How to Qualify Sales Prospects
It’s incredibly important to qualify sales prospects. After all, if you don’t spend time qualifying them, you’ll end up wasting your time later on in the sales process. Or worse, you may end up with a customer that’s a terrible fit, which can mean headaches for operations and support, and negative publicity if they complain on social channels.
Don’t ruin your chances of winning a deal—now or in the future—by sending sales proposals to the wrong prospects. Take the time to understand the prospective client’s current and future needs, as well as his or her financial constraints.
Check In On Your Process
The best way to see how well your business is at qualifying sales prospects it to look at the following four areas:
- Time to Close: How long is your typical sales cycle?
- Forecasting: Do you know what kinds of deals are going to close and what those deals are worth?
- Customers: How successful are your existing customers?
- Sales Reps: How productive is your average sales person?
See if any red flags are raised in any of these areas, and move quickly to resolve them. Also, take note of your best customers and how they measure up with regards to each of the points above so you can identify early on who will be your next, best customer. Then, it’s time to improve on your overall qualification process.
Here are some questions to research, and ask the prospect, before outlining a sales proposal. Remember, it’s just as important to disqualify a prospect as it is to make sure their company (including their culture) is a good fit for yours.
- Do the prospect’s main goals align with the value you provide?
- What does success for their company look like, and can you definitively produce results for them?
- Can you meet and exceed their short-term goals?
- Can you exceed their long-term goals?
- Can you clearly illustrate success for your prospect according to THEIR criteria?
- Do you solve the challenges they are currently facing?
- Is the prospect’s budget adequate for this project?
- Does the prospect see value in the product or service you provide?
- Who has the final say in funding the solution and will they be accessible to you?
- How do they define success in a business relationship and will you be able to definitively demonstrate how you will achieve success?
You may want to create a simple, one-page document that lists all of the crucial questions you want your salespeople to ask of prospects in order to properly qualify them.
Also, make sure salespeople ask these questions in as natural a way as possible. After all, qualifying shouldn’t be an interrogation.
Don’t Be a Crocodile
Crocodile salespeople have big mouths and no ears—they spend all of their time talking and none of it listening.
Make sure that instead of telling sales prospects what you think they want to hear, be quiet and actually listen. The more you do, the more you’ll learn about the prospect’s true motivations for finding a solution. And the more you know, the better you’ll be at qualifying those opportunities.
The less time you spend chasing and following up with prospects that aren’t a good fit for your company, the more time you can dedicate to qualified prospects that will have shorter sales cycles and higher close rates.
Successfully qualifying sales prospects will benefit both you and the prospect. The prospect will be better able to define the problem s/he is trying to solve and secure executive buy-in for funding the solution. Meanwhile, you’ll be able to better optimize your time, eliminate surprises, expose potential problems, ensure your activities impact revenue, and provide clarity for next steps.
Ultimately, qualification helps salespeople maximize their efforts. Make sure you do your due diligence to ensure an opportunity is worth the investment of your time and effort or if it’s better to walk away. Don’t waste your time on a dwindling deal instead of using it to qualify better sales prospects and win better opportunities.