Five Tips to Effectively Qualify Your Sales Prospects

Sales Tip: Qualify Sales Prospect

Sales Tip: Qualify Sales Prospect

Don’t be ‘That Guy’ . . .

You know the one . . . let’s call him Bob. You duck his calls, delete his emails (unread) and hope you don’t accidentally run into him at a meeting. Why? Because you KNOW he’s going to try to sell you something you have absolutely no interest in buying. You tried to tell him nicely. Then you were more forceful. But no matter how blunt you are, he just doesn’t get the message!

The 80-80-80 Rule

Now, here’s the interesting thing. He’s just as frustrated as you are! He doesn’t understand why you keep running away and thinks that the best way to sell to you is to stay in close pursuit. How do I know this? Because 80% of the sales people I coach spend 80% of their time chasing the 80% of their prospects who don’t want to get caught. This happens so frequently that I call it the 80/80/80 Rule. I’ve even had a few sales consultants brag to me about how they are working on being pushy. And sadly, they think this is how they should enhance their selling skills.
Let’s think about this for a moment. You only have so many hours in your workweek. If you are spending 80% of your time chasing the wrong prospects, that means that you have wasted four out of five days. And that only leaves you with one day where you are making productive connections. If you are having marginal results with one productive day, can you imagine what your sales would look like if you doubled or even tripled the experiences that you are now getting only 20% of the time?
Wow, you would look like a top producer!
Here is the difference. Top producers are spending the majority of their time working with the prospects who are interested in their product or service. These same prospects have more immediate needs and the funds to invest! So how do top sales producers do it? They qualify their prospects early in the sales process.

5 Tips to Effectively Qualify Your Sales Prospects

  1. It’s about them, not you. Before you rush to help with a ‘solution’, help your prospects identify their pain points. Why did they reach out to you (or accept your call) initially? Where are they struggling? Why can’t they take their business to the next level?
  2. What is this problem costing them? Is it time, money or extra staff? Help your prospects to self-identify what it is costing them financially to NOT have a solution. If you can help prospects realize that not taking action is costing them money, you create a sense of urgency and will put the cost of your product or fee into perspective. For example, if my problem is costing me $100,000 per year and the solution costs $10,000, then the solution makes sense.
  3. Bring other decision-makers into the process early. Your prospect may be sold on what you are offering, but his or her boss, spouse or advisor may have a different set of concerns. Who will do a better job addressing these concerns? You, as the expert, or someone who has a much shorter exposure to your product or service?
  4. Ask your prospect to identify the time frame for implementation. Once you know when the prospect wants to move forward, you can show him or her how each step in your process brings the solution (and the end to their problem) closer.
  5. Have a conversation about the budget early in the process. If you have a financial qualification, make sure your prospect meets it. While not wanting to pay your fee is an objection that you can address, not having sufficient funds may rule out the prospect altogether.

Finally, create a comfortable environment for your prospects to share any fear or apprehension with you. If you have qualified your prospects, and there is a good fit, you have an obligation to help them navigate their way past concerns so they can make a decision that will ultimately help them. If you have developed a good rapport and completed the five steps listed above, they will be much more likely to share their anxiety with you, rather than simply ducking your call.

About the Author

FFMFiona Middleton, MSM is the president and and CEO of Fairfield Business Solutions. With more than 20 years’ experience working with business owners and senior management teams, Fiona is an authority on delivering customized coaching and training programs that help organizations obtain results.  She is committed to helping organizations achieve breakthroughs in their sales and marketing and build more productive relationships internally and with clients.  Fiona is a frequent guest speaker at conferences, industry organizations and business groups, offering high-content, motivational presentations on sales, marketing, business relationships and growth strategies.  An expert in adult learning, she has developed cost-effective on-line training courses which can be adapted to individual organizations.   Fiona has a master’s degree in management, with concentrations in training and leadership and is part of the adjunct faculty at Rosemont College.


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