The biggest quandary of a salesperson is chasing leads which are vague and require a lot of investment in terms of time and money.To qualify sales prospects on the basis of their ‘readiness to buy’, therefore becomes a good business decision.
Qualifying a sales deal allows a business to ascertain the amount and nature of efforts required to work only on the leads which are more likely to be converted in to an actual sale.
Following questions can be effectively answered by qualifying a sales deal:
- Will a phone contact suffice?
- Is there a need topersonally visit the customer?
- Is a presentation or a demo required to explain the product/service in a better manner?
- How much effort needs to be placed to close a potential customer?
- Is this account big enough to put in our best person for the job?
Once a lead or a sales prospect lands in your ‘sales pipeline’, you can either win that prospect and get a priceless sale out in the process or get rejected by the customer. Qualifying a sales deal opens up the possibility of a third option wherein you can qualify out a prospect i.e. to ascertain if it will be a futile sales deal to chase or not.
Let us explore top 5 ways of qualifying sales prospects:
- Asking the Right Qualifying Questions – You must qualify out a prospect from the sales pipeline if it is turning out to be an expensive engagement. Taking your prospect out of the sales pipeline is one big decision you want to take only after getting convinced about it not materializing in to an actual sale. Smart questioning during the interaction process can unravel the exact interest of your prospect. You need an experienced sales force to pose the right questions at the right time to eliminate such prospects.
- Account – It is critical to gauge the value of the account with pin-point accuracy. Pick the Right Battles. You must be clear in your approach whether a focus towards more profitable accounts is the way to go or not. This would allow you to drop accounts which will not be profitable in comparison to the effort required to close them. E.g. chasing companies on the brink of mergers and acquisitions is a complete ‘No-No’ as they would most likely delay the sales process.
- Strong CRM – There is a serious need for a strong Customer Relationship Management (CRM) process which takes in to consideration a grading of sorts for each sales prospect lying in the sales funnel. It is always advisable to demarcate clearly between your hot and cold leads and the ones lying in between. This would help you prioritize your efforts and focus on value-driven conversions.
- Decision Maker – Many a times it has been observed that a lot of sales effort goes in vain by chasing prospects who are not the ‘decision makers’ or the ‘final deciding authority’ on closing that sale. Eliminate such ‘time eaters’ and make only the right connects. There is no point putting your time and effort to scale up one step of a long-long ladder.
- Market Segmentation – Last but not the least, one of the most understated means of qualifying a sales prospect is through what is called market segmentation i.e. to zero down on your potential customer by way of geography, budget, financial background, age of the business, etc. This process would ensure you have the best leads to focus upon and a lot of time and effort is saved in the process.
In an ideal business scenario, the sales funnel or sales pipeline has to be full at all times. This is very important and would determine the longevity of the business. An interesting reason why it is called a ‘sales funnel’ is because just like a funnel it is wide on top and narrow at the bottom allowing a large number of leads to go in it and only a few actual sales coming out in the process. Enquiries or leads must be pushed across this funnel as often as possible and a careful qualifying process must be in place to make sure the sales funnel is quickly emptied in order to accommodate newer possibilities. There is no logic in hanging around with sales prospects with a hope that they will convert some day. This will turn out to be an uneventful exercise resulting in precious time and money getting wasted.
Let us conclude with an example which can best explain the need to qualify a sales deal:
You are selling ‘Bugatti Veyron’, arguably one of the most expensive cars in the world. In response to a trade show you get enquiries, leads and a big list of sales prospects to pursue. Qualifying ‘An opportunity’ for sure but can all the prospects qualify as a possible sale? The answer would be an emphatic ‘No’. There is a serious need in this case to qualify or filter the sales prospect based on an important factor which is ‘the ability to buy’ or financial competence.
Qualifying the worthiness of the intended sale deal is therefore a very important exercise which must not be compromised with at any point of the sales cycle. All the best!
- Every impression you may on someone will stay with them forever, so make sure the first one that you give them is your best, and you are qualifying yourself.
- And don't let the man with the shovel tell you how many elephants to have in the parade