When you’re qualifying new prospects, what’s the standard you use to determine if they’re an ideal fit for the product or service you’re selling?
Is the prospect looking to buy a product or service that is generally like yours? Or, do they need exactly the value that your product or service can provide?
Does the prospect fit your ideal customer profile? Or, are you continuing to invest your time in this “prospect” merely because they will talk to you?
There are two very distinct approaches to qualification that yield two very different sets of prospects. And, results.
Are you swiping right too often?
The default for most salespeople is to approach qualification from the perspective of qualifying the prospect to buy a product/service that is similar to theirs. Any prospect that on the surface looks like they could use your product are automatically considered to be qualified. In this case, appearances trump everything. So, swipe right and they become a prospect.
Except, they’re really not. This dating app approach to qualification means you are more focused on a classic “sales is a numbers game” approach to selling. ‘Let’s just fill up the funnel and see how many orders we can close.’ This is the primary method qualification method that many salespeople. Its a brute force approach to qualification that may yield some results, but will ultimately be unsuccessful. And, it is wasteful of both yours’ and the prospect’s time.
Look for reasons to disqualify “prospects”
The alternative is a disciplined qualification approach says that you are targeting and qualifying prospects that need exactly the value that you have to offer. And disqualifying those that don’t.
As a salesperson, you’ll have the prospect’s agreement to the following questions about a potential prospect before they enter your pipeline:
What are the specific features/benefits/services that differentiate you from your competition in the eyes of the prospect?
What is the estimated tangible value that the prospect will realize or derive from using your product/service?
If the prospect isn’t in general agreement with your estimates of the value that they receive from your products or services then, then you don’t have a qualified prospect. At that point you’re better off to swipe left and disqualify them from consideration.
This takes more work upfront. It requires the self-discipline to “catch and release” prospects that don’t measure up to your qualification standards. However, just take a second and imagine what will happen to your sales if your pipeline is primarily composed of well-qualified prospects that are in general agreement about the value that they will receive from deploying your product or service. Provided that you are a responsive seller, a zero-time seller, the result will be compressed buying cycles, improved sales productivity and more money in your pocket.
Avoid an unhealthy pipeline addiction
One reason for the persistence of poor qualification techniques is sales managers’ unhealthy preoccupation with the size of their pipeline. The problem is that the quantity of prospects in a salesperson’s prospect pipeline is a lazy metric to assess.
In reality, it doesn’t tell the manager anything about the likelihood of any of the individual opportunities turning into an order. Ironically, most sales managers will say it is easier to forecast their numbers if their pipelines are robust when, in fact, they are dissipating tremendous amounts of sales time with unqualified prospects and creating greater uncertainty about their results.
Obviously, it is easier to fill a pipeline with “qualified prospects” if you’re less discriminating about the quality of those prospects. But this has a major negative impact on your overall sales results because you’ll invest too much sales time on prospects that are never going to buy from you. That time would be much better spent upfront ensuring that the prospect is qualified to buy precisely what you are selling.