Qualifying prospects to determine their validity as a potential client is a critical step in the sales process. I have seen many salespeople waste valuable time dealing with prospects with a low chance of becoming good clients. Here are some questions that should be asked of prospects early in the relationship to determine the amount of time and energy that should be invested in trying to move them from prospect to customer.
Assuming that there is a good match between what you have and what they need, the first order of business is to get the answer to this question:
What is the specific problem you’re looking to fix?
If they can identify a problem that can be answered by your product/service, then quickly get the answer to these 5 questions:
Are you the person who will be making the final decision?
How have you made decisions like this in the past?
What is your timeline for making this decision?
When do you need delivery?
How do you typically pay for products/services like this?
Once you have determined how the prospect’s decision process works (and that you are talking to the decision-maker and that they have the ability to pay), smoke out any potential objections with a question like:
Are there any reasons why you wouldn’t make a decision today?
Final step is the close. Whenever you have a meeting with a prospect, you should have a goal -- maybe it’s a signature on a contract; maybe it’s an appointment for a detailed presentation – if you can’t reach that goal, reach a benchmark towards that goal (e.g., you were hoping to lock in a deal; if that goal couldn’t be reached, lock in an appoint for a presentation that can end with locking in a deal).
NOTE: Before you have even made the call in which you are going to ask the question above, do some homework on the potential fit between you (your product/service) and their organization. If you don’t think that your product/service will bring value to the prospect, you shouldn’t be wasting your time or their time by making a sales call.
The Bottom Line:
1. Don’t waste your valuable time with prospects who are not positioned to become customers.
2. Make sure you have a group of “go to” qualifying questions that will help you decide which prospects have the potential of becoming good customers.
Do you have any favorite qualifying questions? Feel free to share them.