REVENUE | SALES MANAGEMENT
How to use the MEDDPICC qualifying framework to win high-consideration B2B SaaS sales
This article tells you the details of how to win and close more high-consideration SaaS deals. It shares a qualification framework that helps you know what deals to focus on and how to win them.
The framework is well suited for any kind of high-consideration business-to-business (B2B) deal.
There’s nothing academic or theoretical here.
This is the second article in a two-part series. The first article explained what revenue leaders should do in the first weeks of a new fiscal quarter to help ensure they make their number.
It will be your loss if you let the ugliness of the name MEDDPICC bias you against exploring its power.
Who should read this
The process you learn here will be of immediate, practical use to you if you’re in any of these roles:
- A founder or CEO in a young company
- A revenue leader such as a chief revenue officer (CRO) or chief commercial officer (CCO)
- A sales leader
- A seller
If you’re a marketing leader or hands-on marketer, this article will help you understand the B2B high-consideration buying process and how your sellers must navigate it.
Why it matters now
Desired outcome or results
You’ll have much higher likelihood of making your number for the quarter.
And once you see how well these steps work, you’ll be more likely to beat your number in all future quarters.
Table of Contents
What is MEDDPICC
What is MEDDPICC?
MEDDPICC is an acronym for a framework you can use to qualify individual sales opportunities.
You can apply it to determine which opportunities are worth pursuing, especially as you head into a new fiscal quarter. You can also use it to help forecast revenue.
MEDDPICC is not a sales methodology. It doesn’t tell you how to sell.
The letters in the name stand for these key elements in qualifying the deal:
- Economic Buyer
- Decision criteria
- Decision process
- Identify the pain or the initiative
- The Paper Process
- The Champion
- The competition
The Economic Buyer is the person with the power or authority to control the budgets involved in a buying decision. The Economic Buyer has final power to approve or disapprove a purchase.
A Champion is a person who works in an account and who has power or influence over a specific buying decision. The power or influence of a Champion gives them access to the Economic Buyer.
Why is MEDDPICC valuable?
MEDDPICC is a valuable qualification framework for 5 reasons. It enables you to…
- Identify a real opportunity fast
- Identify your location in the sales process (or the customer’s buying process)
- Understand the gap between what you know and what you need to know to close the sale
- Build an action plan to get back on track
- Evaluate and refine the knowledge and skills of your sellers.
Why is MEDDPICC more useful than the common BANT qualification framework?
BANT is another qualification framework, better known that MEDDPICC. It’s an acronym for:
Like all qualifying frameworks, BANT has both strengths and weaknesses. Among its strengths, BANT…
- Is simple and straightforward.
- Suggests good topics to discuss in a meeting with the Economic Buyer.
Among its many weaknesses, BANT misses several important things. It doesn’t…
- Suggest what you need to do next
- Qualify the information and people needed at each step and stage of the sales process
- Accurately identify real advancement in the deal
- Help identify and diagnose specific areas where your reps are struggling in accounts
In addition, BANT doesn’t help identify who you must reach to move a deal forward. Specifically, it doesn’t…
- Address the roles and information needs of key stakeholders
- Address the need to develop a Champion or identify and meet the Economic Buyer
- Help understand the competition or the competition’s Champion and their combined strategy
- Identify higher-level pain, problems or initiatives at higher levels of the company, where budgets are controlled and allocated
Nor does BANT address what a seller must do to win the deal. It doesn’t…
- Quantify the current situation and the future desired state into a cost justification
- Frame the customer’s criteria for making a buying decision
- Help you control the decision process
- Identify the steps in the paper process
Finally, BANT doesn’t help you forecast when a deal is likely to close or how confident you can feel about winning it.
Notes on terminology used here
Throughout this article, please be aware that the word seller could refer to any members of what may be an extended sales team. So the term could include your pre-sales consultants, subject-matter experts, and members of your professional-services team.
The term customer usually means your prospective customer or prospect—the organization that’s making the buying decision.
How to qualify deals with MEDDPICC
MEDDPICC enables you to identify the knowns and unknowns in your deals. It helps you know:
- Your exact location in the process
- The upcoming elements to achieve
- The approximate time to winning an order
It also provides an orderly, structured way for you to track…
- What stage you’re in
- The steps you’ve taken
- The people you’ve met
- The information you have
- What added information you need
The 3 stages of a deal
For the purposes of the MEDDPICC framework, we talk about 3 stages or phases of the sales process:
- Discovery. In this phase, the seller—maybe with help from other members of an extended sales team—discovers the customer’s pain and tries to quantify it. You learn about their current state and their desired future state.
- Scoping. In the Scoping phase, the seller looks for a Champion and works with the Champion to create the decision criteria, formulate the decision process, and schedule a meeting with the Economic Buyer.
- Presentation. In this stage, the seller presents the solution and its economic justification to the Economic Buyer. The goal is to get the Economic Buyer’s approval to move forward with closing the sale.
Who controls a deal?
What does it mean to control a deal?
Sales managers, trainers, and coaches often talk about controlling the deal.
But you may ask, as I have, whether anyone other than the customer ever controls a buying decision.
It’s always up to the customer to make the final decision to buy or not to buy. And it’s good for sales managers and other revenue leaders to remember that many elements of any deal are simply beyond a seller’s control.
It’s wise for vendors and sellers to accept the things they can’t control. That’s better than trying to wrestle for dominance where they’re unlikely to achieve it. It’s also better than engaging in a struggle for control that could cost a customer’s trust.
Even if sellers can’t control all elements of a decision process, it’s the seller’s job to influence the momentum and direction of a deal in any way they can. And they must do so more effectively than any competitor.
If that’s what control means, it makes good sense.
To track your situation in a deal vis à vis your competitors, it’s important to pay attention to any shifts in this kind of relative control.
Who can control a deal?
At various times, any of three parties may control the deal:
- The customer
- The competition
The customer is in full control of the decision process during the Discovery stage.
This is when the seller needs insight and information and must depend on the customer to provide it.
A seller begins to gain control toward the end of the Scoping stage.
This is likely to happen when the seller has found a Champion who will advocate for your solution internally. The Champion likes your solution and needs information from your seller to be an effective internal influencer of the buying decision.
A competitor may gain control during the Scoping process.
This is likely to happen if the customer has defined their decision process and criteria without involving your seller.
The customer may tell your rep their criteria and process, but they may have formulated them with the help of a competitor.
A competitor may be in control when…
- You’ve entered the deal late.
- A competitor identifies a Champion before your seller does.
- A competitor’s Champion has more influence or authority than yours.
How to use MEDDPICC in practice
The following section describes how to use the MEDDPICC framework to qualify an opportunity by asking well-considered questions.
Note that the qualification process does not necessarily follow the order of the letters in the acronym.
1. Qualify on the customer’s pain, problem, or initiative.
Do they have good reasons to buy now? (Discovery stage)
Qualify on the 4 whys. Ask your seller:
Why does the customer HAVE TO buy?
How would they describe their level of pain?
What are the specific pain points?
Is their description of pain in technical terms, business terms, or both?
What is the customer use case?
Why do THEY have to buy?
Who is most affected by the pain?
What is the title of the person most affected?
How does the pain affect the metrics by which their job performance is measured?
Why do they have to buy FROM US?
How do our product differentiators tie in to their pains?
Which of our product capabilities is uniquely differentiated?
Why do they have to BUY NOW?
What happens if the customer does nothing?
What company performance metrics will suffer?
Do they have an alternative to relieve the pain?
Is there an impending event that forces them to relieve the pain?
If a seller can’t explain the 4 whys, they’re still in the Discovery stage.
2. Qualify on the metrics.
Quantify the customer’s pain and the solution (Scoping stage)
To qualify on metrics, you ensure your seller meets 2 criteria. You seller can…
- Describe the prospect’s current situation.
- Describe the prospect’s desired future situation.
If your seller can’t quantify the before and after situation for the prospect, s/he can’t build a cost justification. S/he can’t establish the business value that will justify the cost of the purchase.
To qualify your seller on the customer’s metrics, ask these questions:
What is the use case?
Who owns the use case?
How severe is the pain, stated in terms you can quantify with the customer?
Have you outlined the current situation and the desired future scenarios?
In what categories will you deliver value?
Note: Your company can typically deliver value in one or more of 6 general ways. You can help your customers…
- Reduce risk
- Increase efficiency or throughput
- Increase revenue through their current operating model
- Enable new revenue strategies, business models, or opportunities
- Improve the customer experience
- Strengthen the brand
Also ask your seller how you and your customer will measure the value you provide:
What is the quantified business value?
By how much does the gain outweigh the pain?
What is the desired business outcome?
How do you measure the desired business outcome?
What current KPIs will be used to measure the business outcome?
The following questions refer to the role a Champion and an Economic Buyer:
Have you shared the findings with your Champion?
Is your Champion in agreement with each element of the justification?
Have you reconfirmed why they need our differentiators to achieve their future situation?
What price point will you set during your meeting with the Economic Buyer?
If a seller has left out any of these elements, the deal is still in the Scoping stage.
3. Qualify on the customer’s decision criteria.
What is the prospect looking for in the product and vendor they’ll pick? (Scoping stage)
The customer’s decision criteria should state the functional capabilities that must be in the solution to reduce or eliminate their pain.
Decision criteria typically change throughout a customer’s decision process. Your seller may help change them, or your competitor may do so.
The seller who helps their Champion write the decision criteria gains control over the deal.
If a competitor is helping their Champion write new decision criteria, they may have the upper hand in the deal. Whether they gain control depends on the power and influence of their Champion.
The customer’s final decision criteria should include elements that differentiate your offering from any alternatives your customer is considering.
The customer’s decision criteria may also include elements not directly related to your offering. For example, it may be important for the customer to choose a vendor for its financial strength and stability, not just for its products or services.
To qualify the deal against the customer’s decision criteria, you check to see how well your rep is is monitoring any changes to the decision criteria:
- If changes to the customer’s decision criteria are in your favor, you’re in control or gaining control.
- If changes are in the competition’s favor, you’ve lost control or are losing it.
Ask these questions to qualify your seller on the customer’s decision criteria:
Do your product capabilities align to the customer’s pains?
Can you describe their major pain and how our product alleviates that pain?
Did you help your Champion(s) write the decision criteria?
Which of our unique product differentiators are in the decision criteria?
Also ask about possible changes to the decision criteria:
Have the criteria changed since the original agreement?
If the criteria have changed…
Which competitor has influenced the changes?
What of a competitor’s strengths have been inserted into the decision criteria?
When were competitors’ differentiators inserted into the criteria?
Who did the competitor(s) influence to change the criteria?
Ask who is in control of the decision criteria:
Are you in control of this deal or is the competition taking control?
Why do you think you’re in control?
Verify you seller’s plans to approach the Economic Buyer:
Are you prepared to discuss with the Economic Buyer how the capabilities of your solution solve the customer’s business pain?
The customer’s process of formulating and finalizing the decision criteria tells us what we need to know about our position in the sales process. It tells us:
- Whether we’ve entered the process early or late
- If we have a coach or a Champion
- Where we are in the sales process
- How much power the champion has
- How much power the competition’s Champion has
- If we have confirmed agreement with the Economic Buyer
4. Qualify on the customer’s decision process.
What people, events, and timeframes will the prospect use to evaluate their alternatives and choose a solution? (Scoping stage)
You should gain this information by qualifying the customer’s decision process:
- The person controlling the process
- Other key stakeholders involved in the process
- The relative power of your Champion versus that of any competitors’ Champions
- Whether the remaining steps are predictable or unknown
- Timeframes associate with events
- Your seller’s intimacy with the deal
To qualify your seller on the customer’s decision process, ask these questions:
Through what specific events will the customer evaluate solutions?
Examples: Such events might include product demos, presentation of proposals, trial runs of data, proof of concept (POC), etc.
What are the timeframes for each event?
Besides your Champion, who else will be involved in each event in the decision process?
Of the people involved in the process, who have you met with individually?
Here are questions to ask about possible changes to the decision process:
Have any new people entered the process since it was created?
If so, who?
Has the decision process changed since it was first established?
If so, who changed the process?
Were you or your Champion involved in the change?
Ask your seller who controls the decision process:
Is your Champion helping you control the decision process?
Ask how your competitors are involved in the customer’s decision process:
If your Champion isn’t helping you control the decision process, is a competitor’s Champion controlling the process?
If so, who is that champion?
Which competitors are involved in the customer’s decision process?
What is the title of the competition’s Champion?
Ask about the need for a proof of concept (POC) or proof of value (POV):
Will a POC or POV be part of the customer’s decision process?
If so, ask these questions:
Does the Proof of Value (POV) have defined start and end dates?
Will the customer run a POC or POV with any competitors?
Have you and your customer defined the success criteria for the POC or POV?
If so, do you have the criteria in writing?
Ask your seller these questions to confirm the customer’s decision process:
Are you prepared to confirm the decision process with the Economic Buyer?
Can we meet with the Economic Buyer after the Proof of Value (POV)?
5. Qualify on Champions.
Make sure you have a real Champion who can help you win the sale. (Scoping stage)
For individuals involved on the customer’s side of a deal, be aware of how much influence and authority they have.
An individual’s influence and authority may have little to do with their official title or placement on an organization chart.
Use this simple matrix to map how much influence or authority an individual has:
What is a Champion?
As a reminder, a Champion is a person who has power or influence in an account. Their power or influence gives them access to the Economic Buyer.
Sometimes a person may appear to be a Champion but doesn’t have the power or influence you’ll need for them to help you win the deal.
Why you need a Champion
You need a Champion for 3 main reasons:
- To gain access to the Economic Buyer
- To have an internal salesperson working on your behalf
- To gain control of the deal
Do you have a real Champion? And can your Champion help you win?
You want a Champion with influence and authority or with influence but no authority.
To qualify whether you have a true Champion, ask your seller these questions:
Did your seller (or others in your company) help your customer develop the buying decision process and criteria?
Did the Champion work with your seller to develop…
- Your customer’s decision process and criteria?
- The customer’s before-and-after scenarios?
- The economic justification?
- The decision criteria with your differentiating capabilities?
- The customer’s decision process?
- The agenda for the meeting with the Economic Buyer?
Does the Champion have…
- Influence and authority?
- Influence only?
- Authority only?
If the Champion has authority, how do you know they have it?
What level of authority do they have?
If they have influence, how do you know they have it?
With whom do they have influence?
Ask your seller how they have worked with the Champion:
How have you educated and developed the Champion?
How have you tested your Champion?
Ask about your Champion’s willingness and ability to help you sell to the Economic Buyer:
Who does your Champion say is the Economic Buyer?
Will your Champion arrange a meeting with the Economic Buyer?
When does your Champion say your meeting with the Economic Buyer will occur?
Will your Champion brief the Economic Buyer before your meeting?
Can you schedule a prep call that includes the sales manager, your seller, and the Champion before the meeting with the Economic buyer?
6. Qualify on the Economic buyer.
Review how your seller will (or did) reach the Economic Buyer.
Here are good questions to qualify your seller on their preparation for the meeting with the Economic Buyer:
With whom (besides your Champion) has your seller validated the role of the Economic Buyer?
What have you prepared to present at the meeting with the Economic Buyer?
After your seller has met with the Economic Buyer, these are good questions to ask your seller:
Did you confirm the 4 whys with the Economic Buyer?
Why is this initiative a high priority for the Economic Buyer?
Did you present the Economic Buyer with the findings from your Discovery and Scoping activities?
Ask your seller if the Economic Buyer confirmed or clarified your seller’s understanding of the situation:
If so, did the Economic Buyer confirm their agreement with those findings?
Which business metrics or measures are most affected by the pain the Economic Buyer feels?
What business results does the Economic Buyer want?
Did you confirm the before and after scenarios with the Economic Buyer?
Did you review the preliminary economic justification with the Economic Buyer?
If so, did the Economic Buyer accept or challenge the economic justification?
Ask your seller what questions your Champion and Economic Buyer raised during or after the meeting:
What questions did the Economic Buyer ask you?
What did your Champion say after the meeting?
Ask your seller if the Economic Buyer truly has authority to approve this buying decision:
Does the Economic Buyer have authority to approve a purchase of this size?
Will the Economic Buyer allocate budget to the project based on your economic justification?
Ask your seller if the Economic Buyer is in agreement with key elements of the decision criteria and process:
Did the Economic Buyer confirm the steps that are left in the decision process?
Did the Economic Buyer agree that all vendors must test to the same validation criteria?
In what timeframe does the Economic Buyer want a solution?
Why does the Economic Buyer need the solution in the timeframe s/he has stated?
Ask if your seller has established a path back to the Economic Buyer…
If someone tries to change the validation criteria we’ve previously agreed to, can we talk to the Economic Buyer?
Did the Economic Buyer agree to a follow-up meeting if the results from a test, a POV, or a POC materially change your economic justification?
7. Qualify on the Competition.
Explore the relative strength of alternatives your customer is considering.
During this step of your qualification process, you determine these elements:
- Does your competition have a Champion?
- Does your Champion have more influence than your competitor’s Champion?
- Have you gotten to senior decision influencers early in the decision process?
- Have the decision criteria changed in ways that signal your competitor is gaining control?.
Here are good questions to ask your reps questions to qualify on the competition:
Who are your competitors in the deal?
When did your competitors enter the account?
Were competitors in the account before us? If so, which?
Ask your seller about the competitor’s relationship with any Champions:
Have you identified any Champions who support solutions other than ours?
Who are Champions of competing solutions?
Who else are our competitors speaking with in the account?
Do the Champions of competing solutions have both influence and authority? Or do they have influence without authority?
Have our competitors met with the Economic Buyer?
Ask about any changes to the decision process or criteria:
Were the decision criteria set when you entered the account?
Did the decision criteria change to include any differentiating capabilities of our competitors?
If so, when did the decision criteria change?
Has the customer’s decision process changed since our competitor(s) entered the account?
Ask your seller how well your Champion is equipped to help win the buying decision:
How do the Champions of our competitors differentiate their preferred solutions from ours?
What strategies will our competitors’ Champion(s) use to win the buying decision?
Is our Champion stronger than our competitors’ Champions?
Have you armed your Champion with traps to sow fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) toward the competition?
8. Qualify on the paper- and signature-approval process.
The paper process is the step-by-step sequence of administrative tasks or activities through which the buyer’s organization completes a purchase.
If your Champion doesn’t know the customer’s paper process, it might indicate…
- They’re not a real Champion.
- They may be a first-time Champion.
Here are some good questions to ask your seller about the customer’s paper process:
Does your Champion know the administrative process for closing a deal?
Has your Champion been involved in buying a product that involves a higher investment than this deal?
What are all the steps in the final approval process?
What is the timeframe for each step of the process?
What stakeholders are involved in each of these steps?
You might also ask specific questions such as these:
Have you spoken to the contact in the Procurement Department?
If not, who should you speak to, and when?
Has the customer’s legal team reviewed and redlined the purchase agreements?
If not, who on their legal team will do so, and when?
As you’ve skimmed or read to this point, you may have wondered if the effort to use MEDDPICC is worthwhile.
It’s a good question.
The effort may not be worthwhile in these situations:
- Your average deal size is too small to justify the work and time involved in MEDDPICC qualification.
- Your customer’s buying decision is consistently simple and straightforward.
- Your revenue forecasting is already 90% accurate.
- Your sellers and sales managers rarely delude themselves about their chances of winning a deal or achieving their quarterly number.
- You never sweat whether you’ll achieve your revenue goals.
- Your sellers and sales leaders never sandbag their revenue forecast. That is, they never understate the revenue potential of a deal or their chances of winning it.
In most other cases, MEDDPICC—or some variation that uses a similar approach—is likely to work wonders for your revenue generation. It CAN help your sales team…
- Be more selective about the deals they pursue
- Purge your sales pipe of deals you have a low likelihood of winning
- Identify specific things they can do to win deals that remain in their pipe
- Forecast revenue more accurately
- Win more of the deals they’ve forecast
While MEDDPICC is not a sales methodology, it does provide a roadmap and checklist for the key elements your sellers must cover before a customer is likely to buy from your company.
You can use it to build a method for effective deal coaching.
This article, long as it is, provides only a brief overview of how to use the MEDDPICC framework.
The content here draws heavily from the work of John McMahon, a 5-time chief revenue officer at top enterprise SaaS companies.
For more thorough and helpful guidance, I urge you to read his book, cited as a source below.
If you’d like to bring the MEDDPICC framework into your company, see both McMahon’s book and the other solid resources listed below.
Suggested next step
To download an editable Google Docs copy of this article, go here.
The download provides a fast and convenient way to get copies of all the questions you can ask in the 7 MEDDPICC steps for qualifying your deals.
Act soon, because the free copy may not be available for long.
When you arrive at the MEDDPICC document on Google, make a copy for yourself and save it to your drive. You should then be able to edit your copy.
You’re welcome to adapt your copy as you like, subject to copyright laws.
The Qualified Sales Leader: Proven Lessons from a Five-Time CRO. John McMahon. Dev Ittycheria. 2021.
MEDDIC: The Ultimate Guide to Staying One Step Ahead in the Complex Sale. 2020. Andy Whyte.
Always Be Qualifying: MEDDIC / MEDDPICC. Darius Lahoutifard. 2020.
All of these books are solid, and all are written by people who practiced the MEDDPIC qualification framework at the time it was developed at PTC Inc., the company where the framework was developed and refined.
If you’re new to MEDDPICC, I suggest you start with John McMahon’s book. It’s concise and readable, and it includes questions you can ask to qualify reps on all the elements of the framework.
About this article
Driven issue number: 69
Date of publication: August 15, 2021
Date of most recent revision: August 15, 2021
Writer: Dave Vranicar
Publisher: SilverStream LLC
Copyright: © 2021 Silverstream LLC. All rights reserved.