How and Why To Qualify A Sales Prospect

Have you ever been in a meeting with the client, only to find that someone else needs to be in on the buying decision? What are the odds of closing that sale today? 

What, if anything could you have done to make sure that all the decision-makers were at the meeting?

This is called “qualifying the sales prospect”,

and there are three main things that are important in the initial qualifying of the sales prospect. Some of this information you may be able to find out during your initial discovery call, and save both you and your sales prospect the time of either scheduling a meeting or not.

Now, I can already hear some of you disagreeing with me. “But if I don’t meet with them, I might miss something they still need, or a referral” or whatever… But I am here to show you how to maximize your time and sales, and spending my day cold calling for referrals is not the best use of my time.

So, ask questions and/or do research before you call. Do they even need anything I have to offer? Will the client be a good fit for you and my company?

One of my favorite questions is—on a scale of 1 to 10, how committed you are to ________ (the result you’re trying to help them to accomplish)?

Get the right customer in – someone that needs what you have, and you are much more likely to close them, and close them faster.

Eliminate the non opportunities quickly.

The faster you can eliminate the clients that don’t match your criteria, the faster you will be able to find the right ones.

And if someone does sneak past your sales qualification process, and you meet with them, once you realize they are not going to be able to do anything with you, move them out of the meeting quickly, so you can free up your time to find the right customer.

How and Why to Qualify Your Prospects
How and Why to Qualify Your Prospects

When you first start in sales, you will probably have many meetings where people don’t need what you offer. 

You will get to a point where you will get tired of this, and quickly begin to qualify… It happens to everyone, so don’t be frustrated. It just depends how soon you get tired of these meetings, and wake up and start to better qualify your prospects.

Ask questions and offering solutions to fit their situation and needs.

There are two reasons in the qualifying process that I will continue on with the prospect, even if it’s a “not now” answer. 

One is timing – for a number of reasons. The fit is not right now, but there is a potential for later. So I asked the qualifying question, “when do you think you were looking to make the decision or a change?”, and I add them to my “call in the future list”, and I put the date to call them in a month, 3 months, or even 6 months in my CRM.

The other is money. Sometimes, people have money coming in later, and I try to determine that during our conversation. 

Of course, I can offer a payment plan. But I am amazed by the amount of people that don’t want to take on monthly payments. There have been times I’ve said, “well, you can pay it in full” – and they do! 

Or, “you can earn points or miles if you put this on your credit card”, and that excites them and they pay in full. 

Ultimately, you are looking for people that want to accomplish a particular result, and who are willing to pay you to reach their desired outcome. Your job is to create an urgency for them to do that now.

When you qualify your prospects, you free up your time for the customers who want the results you offer and who are willing to commit.

Is there a particular “ type” of person that you close more of?

If you look at your previous or existing customers, you may see a pattern in age, male or female, personality type or the location they live. 

Or if you sell business-to-business, is there a particular type or size of the company you close more of?

This would be your “niche”, and if you focus on more of the clients meeting these qualifications, you will find more people or businesses to sell to.

How and Why to Qualify Your Sales Prospects
Qualify Your Prospects

By asking qualifying questions, you will be able to determine if you and your potential sales client will be a good fit for each other. 

You will find you can easily separate people into yes’s, maybe’s, and no’s as you conversationally work your way through your list of questions.

However, you don’t want to make your potential customer feel like they are on trial. So, be conversational, and interested in their answers.

For your yes’s, you want to schedule appointments to meet with them as soon as possible. Give them your top priority and fill in the gaps with your maybe’s.

For the no’s, you want to quickly answer any questions they may have, and move on.

When you are first starting out in sales, and have more time, you will filter out fewer people then you will after you are more established and have less available time.

The three things you are looking for when you qualify your sales prospects are:

Need, means, and the decision maker. Don’t jump into a presentation unless your potential client meets all three.

Need — determine yes or no through questions.

Means — there’s a difference between being able to afford what you offer, and thinking you charge too much. 

If someone says your product or service is too expensive, you need to work on creating more value for your client.

Decision maker — make sure that everyone that needs to be involved in the decision is available in the room before you begin your presentation.

Set the agenda.

When you set the appointment, make sure that you let the potential customer know about how long the meeting will take, so you will have their undivided attention.

There’s nothing worse than having a prospect show up and tell you, “I have 15 minutes before I have to _____.” Stop it before it happens. 

It’s no news to you that we as sales people have had to adapt and adjust a bit in 2020.

This includes how we  prospect and how we qualify our sales prospects.

I find it easier to reach people over the phone and email, and I am getting more responses. However, I am also finding that more people respond because they have more time on their hands, and are thinking more. 

Which is good, but – there’s always a but, right? I am finding I need to be extra careful about qualifying the prospect.

Are they talking with me because they had a real interest and need in the product or services I offer? Or are they doing research because they have that extra time on their hands? Or even – are they looking for a job?

So, I ask a lot of questions. Even more than usual.

These “prospect qualification calls” take a bit longer than they used to, like everything else in 2020.

But after the call I have the information I need to either: 

Schedule a virtual meeting and put together a solution for them, or 

● Figure out where or even if they’re in a buying process, and put a reminder in my CRM to follow up with them, and when.

Because everything seems to take longer right now, I have to find a way to be more efficient than ever, or work a lot more hours.

I’m seeing two distinct types of buyers these days:

✔︎ those people that need and want help and are open to solutions, and

✔︎ those that really need help, but are certain, that they can figure it out on their own, if they can just pick your brain a little. The “do-it-yourselfers”.

The key with the second type of person is that you can take that opportunity and create the value of how you are able to help them.

Find out what their biggest struggle is. Are they looking to take action quickly? Is there a serious misconception you can see and their ability to solve this on their own? 

With these people, plant seeds and follow up. Some people will never be open to help, and others will come around – and you will be there.

Follow up with this person is super important. Don’t get discouraged, just be creative in your follow-up.

Another trend I’ve seen in my own sales is:

My closing rate has increased, and the average dollar amount of my sales has increased.

I better qualify my prospects by spending more time on prospecting qualification calls.

I am taking more time during a presentation to learn and understand what is most important to them. 

Because of homeschooling constraints

and coordinating their own work schedule during the week, I find more  people are looking for Saturday appointments. In fact, Saturday has become my biggest selling day!

Yes, I’ve had to adapt from a two – day weekend to maybe taking a day off during the week. But that’s sales.

So, when you qualify a sales prospect, ask them if perhaps Saturday might be a better time for them to meet?

And if you have children at home right now, adjusting your schedule so that you will work some Saturdays will help you manage the schooling scheduling.

Parents and Grandparents and Aunts, Uncles and even friends are all jumping in to help parents with the work – school challenge.

And more people are available on Saturdays.

Something for you to think about until a better solution is found and we can find some normalcy again, right?

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