Learn the importance of qualifying a prospect because when developing a business, it's easy to get carried away by all the opportunities that come your way. But not all prospects are created equal, and some are more likely than others to become new customers.
To avoid wasting valuable resources, you need to eliminate risk and focus your efforts on prospects that can pay off your investment of time, money, and energy.
First of all, it is important to answer the seemingly simple question: what is prospecting?
Prospecting, the first step in the sales cycle, is the process of identifying, often from a database, connecting with potential customers.
The objective of prospecting is to create a sales pipeline, in which a salesperson connects with a potential customer to establish contact with the intention of closing a sale, increasing his turnover.
What is Lead Qualification?
Qualifying a prospect means determining whether someone interested in your services will be a good potential client or not. If so, that person deserves your time and effort to convert them into a customer.
Qualified leads obviously have a better ROI and higher sales volume.
What is a Qualified Lead?
A qualified prospect or qualified lead is a “contact” who has expressed interest in purchasing your product or service.
Each salesperson has a slightly different definition of what makes a qualified lead. You've probably heard of these terms before:
- MQL (marketing qualified lead): is a contact who is believed to have the potential to become a customer, but without any certainty.
- SAL (sales accepted lead): a lead validated by the sales team.
- SQL (sales qualified lead): a lead considered qualified by the sales team as being able to become a customer.
Is prospect qualification important?
Lead qualification saves you time, energy and ultimately improves your sales efficiency. It intervenes very early in the process, ideally during the first contact or even before (for example with lead scoring ).
Qualifying a lead helps you:
- Determine if the prospect is in the right industry and territory to benefit from your product or service.
- identify the needs of your prospects.
- Determine if your contact person has the budget and authority to make a purchase decision (decision maker).
- Optimize and accelerate your sales cycle.
- Improve and increase conversion rates.
How to qualify a prospect for the sale?
To successfully qualify leads, you need to ask the right questions to the right people at the right times, thereby maximizing your chances of converting many qualified leads.
The first three qualifying questions – “Who?” “, ” Or ? “, ” Why? – will show you how to find quality leads.
The what ? is intended to guide your presentation
The “When?” can save you time and maximize your energies in the qualification process.
Finally, the questions “How?” are perhaps the most crucial as many of the answers will evolve from the preliminary questions.
Questions to qualify a prospect
Qualify a prospect – Who?
Here are some sample “who” questions you might consider using in order to qualify a lead (convert “topics” into qualified leads):
- Who has the most obvious need for your products or services?
- Who are the ideal prospects? Don't limit yourself to existing customers (Describe in detail on a sheet of paper who your ideal prospects are).
- Who has the money to immediately buy your products or services?
- Who has the most urgent need to buy your products or services?
- Who has influence over the prospects you are able to identify?
Qualify a prospect – Where?
By asking enough “where” questions, you should be able to qualify a prospect beyond your current client list.
- Where do your ideal prospects live, work, socialize, worship or play?
- Where can you find useful mailing lists of people who match the profile of your ideal prospect?
- Where can you find directories from which you can build your own lists?
- Where could you go to contact new prospects?
Qualify a prospect – Why?
By using “why” questions, you can prioritize so you don't waste your time qualifying leads.
- Why would the prospect be likely to buy your product or service?
- Why would the prospect resist buying your product or service?
- Why is now a good time (or not) to approach the prospect?
- Why is this person likely to set up a date with you?
Qualify a prospect – What?
These questions, if used well, can increase your ability to qualify.
- What will the prospect find most beneficial in your product or service?
- What information could you present, or what questions could you ask that would get the prospect talking about their needs?
- What else do you need to know about the prospect?
- What information should you gather about the prospect before meeting them?
- What is the prospect's biggest problem?
Qualify a prospect – When?
This question is about timing. Don't try to set up an appointment at your convenience.
- When is the best time to contact a prospect? Important advice, if it is a very busy leader never do it on Monday morning!
- When is the most productive time from the perspective of the prospect?
- When is the prospect most likely to give you the time you need?
- When should you contact the prospect again if your initial efforts have not been successful?
Qualify a prospect – How?
You will not be able to ask meaningful questions about “How?” if you haven't thoroughly explored the other five.
- How can you be sure you're doing a good enough job of tracking prospecting? (Look again at the “Who?” questions.)
- How can you use your prospecting time more productively? (“Where?” questions can help you here).
- How can you improve your prospecting and qualifying skills? (Tip: Look for creative ways to leverage your products and services. Look at the “Why?” questions.)
- What is the best way to approach your prospects? (Think of the questions “What?” – What will they want to hear?)
- How can you dedicate more time to meaningful prospecting and qualifying the leads you generate? (The “When?” questions will give you a good indication of effective time management).
The 3 steps to qualify a prospect
- Identify the need
- Know the investment / Budget
- Define the decision-making process
Qualify a prospect – Step 1: Identify the need
The concept of need is used in many sales methods, such as the classic BANT model.
You need to deeply understand the problems of your interlocutor and the resulting financial impacts. This will give you an idea of the buyer's level of commitment to resolving these issues.
During this first stage, if the prospect has a problem but the salesperson is not qualified to solve it, there will be no sales made. If the seller is qualified to solve the buyer's problem but the prospect is not committed to solving it, there will also be no sale.
Understanding the need is fundamental during this first step to qualifying a prospect because if there is no real need, it is better to leave.
Qualify a prospect – Step 2: Know the investment / Budget
The second step in qualifying a sale is the investment. Many salespeople ask the prospect too quickly, “What's your budget?” or “Do you have a budget?” but that's not always the best way to approach this question.
If the prospect really has a budget problem, the notion of investment will come naturally into the conversation. You can underline the time that he will have to devote to it, the internal resources that he will have to mobilize, and finally if he has a budget envelope.
Qualify a prospect – Step 3: Define the decision-making process
The third and final step is the decision-making process. Many salespeople take shortcuts, which is not a good idea because the buying process at a company or even an individual level can be surprisingly complex.
Here is the list of questions that help uncover the prospect's decision-making process. These questions demonstrate the prospect's commitment to solving their problem.
- When will the purchase decision be made?
- Why will this decision be made?
- What will make the purchase decision?
- Where will the buying decision be made?
- How will the purchase decision be made?
- Who will make the purchase decision?
Disqualifying a Prospect
When you're immersed in day-to-day business life, it can be hard to keep in mind just how valuable your time is. The seconds, minutes, and even hours spent here and there on another follow-up email or phone call can seem to have no impact on your sales team's performance. False.
Instead of focusing on increasing the volume of your sales leads, consider honing your skills to identify when it's time to get rid of “cold” leads.
Doing so may end up with fewer potential leads, but it will allow you to focus more time on the deals that are most likely to close.
Why You Should Disqualify Leads Early in the Sales Process
Sales goals and quotas can sometimes make you feel like any scheduled meeting is a step in the right direction. But planning and prospecting just to tick boxes aren't good for anyone in the long run.
Approach prospecting as you would a personalized proposal, remaining aware of the alignment between your sales process and the needs of your customers from start to finish.
How to Disqualify Prospects Early in the Sales Process?
- Do a Thorough Search
You can reach out to anyone who seems even remotely interested in what you're selling. You can also take the time to develop a preliminary research phase in order to spend more time building relationships and closing deals.
Your company's marketing department is a good starting point for developing qualifying criteria for the buying cycle. As part of his brand awareness (or lead nurturing) efforts, he likely established audience Personas with pain points, job titles, needs, etc.
Combine these profiles with commonalities gathered from past deals you've made.
In short, have a sufficient basis to optimize the targeting of prospects in the most methodical way possible.
- Increased competition
Competition is a reality in the world of sales. Few prospects are not looking for demonstrations and proposals from other companies.
The time to start worrying is when prospects are in “conversation” with an excessive number of vendors (more than two or three).
Here's why :
The more a prospect is in contact with a large number of suppliers, the more likely it is that he has not yet found what he is really looking for. This may result in him not having a clear understanding of the problem he needs to solve.
Additionally, it can also mean that there is no rush to implement a new tool or service. He can content himself with looking at what exists without intending to move forward.
- Timing barriers
If a prospect has established a timeline from the start that seems unrealistic or unachievable to you, you need to address this point as soon as possible.
You have to make sure that what you sell will meet the customer's requirements and schedule, especially if he is moving in the b2b universe.
Ask the right questions about the prospect's expectations and pay attention to the long-term process — not just what you need to say to close the sale, but also what you need to do to close a good sale.
- Your contact lacks decision-making power
This is something that can easily slip through the selection process if you're not careful. If your contact has no decision-making power, this may be another sign of a lack of urgency.
Resolving to work on cold prospecting (telephone prospecting or e-mailing) in the new year is a way to better manage this common situation. When you target prospects based on their position, you have more control over building relationships with the people most likely to sign contracts.
Your solution is not prioritized over the problems they are trying to solve
One of the main questions you need to answer when determining whether to quickly disqualify prospects is how badly they need what you have to sell.
That's not to say you can't close a deal with a prospect who didn't even search (passively or not) for your solution in the first place. But you need to understand how your offering fits into a larger business vision and goals. This will help you gauge how seriously a prospect will listen and take action based on what you offer.
Need help? Outsource your lead qualification to ConversionSpree, we can help you clean your email list and disqualify prospects that do not convert into sales.