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No Bad Prospects: Effective Qualifying of Sales Leads


I don’t have to tell you that sales can be a tough business. Just think about the rejections, dead ends, and endless price quotes and proposals that often don’t lead to anything.

Talk about tough!

When a prospect doesn’t buy, we tend to blame them. They weren’t really interested but lied and acted like they were. The timing wasn’t right. It’s a bad economy right now. They already have a supplier. Our price was too high. The list goes on!

Before you start making excuses and blame the prospect, ask yourself this question: Did you really take the time to properly qualify your prospect?

Most likely, you didn’t!

Let’s take a look at the importance of qualifying prospects, how to identify the right ones, some questions you should be asking, and what to do if the prospect says “no.”

The Importance Of Qualifying Prospects

In the competitive world of sales, it's crucial to optimize your time and resources by focusing on prospects who are genuinely interested in your product or service. Properly qualifying prospects can not only save you time and effort but also improve your sales results and overall productivity.

To successfully qualify your prospects, it's essential to identify those who have a genuine interest in your product or service, as well as the financial capacity and authority to make a purchasing decision. To properly qualify your prospects, consider the following:

  1. Uncover their pain: Do they have a business problem that your solution can potentially solve?
  2. Evaluate their budget: Are they willing and able to make the investment necessary to fix the problem?
  3. Understand their decision-making process: How, and under what circumstances, will they decide to do business with you?

If you’re familiar with Sandler at all, these are likely very familiar to you. These are just some of the steps of the Sandler Selling System, a system designed to help salespeople be far more effective than they were before.

Asking The Right Questions

When qualifying prospects, asking the right questions is essential. By gathering as much information as possible, you'll be able to make informed decisions about whether a prospect is worth pursuing. Here are some questions you can ask to help you qualify—or disqualify—prospects:

  1. What issue are you having that led to this conversation today?
  2. How long have you been dealing with this problem?
  3. What have you already tried to solve this issue?
  4. What would happen if you didn’t solve this problem?
  5. How soon are you hoping to solve this problem?
  6. Assuming I can help you with this, what could potentially get in the way of us working together?
  7. Is this issue even worth solving? Why or why not?

Remember, your value as a salesperson isn’t based on how much information you give out, but how much information you gather.

Here are three key pieces of information you want to gather when asking these questions:

  1. Does the prospect have a business problem you can help solve?
  2. Are they willing and able to make the investment necessary to fix the problem?
  3. Under what circumstances will they decide to do business with you?

If you don’t know the answer to all three of those questions, it's your responsibility to pull the plug on that prospect and move on to the next one. Remember, it's not a bad prospect; it's just not a good prospect for you.

Navigating The Four Potential Outcomes

Not all interactions will result in an immediate sale. However, there are four possible outcomes that can still benefit your sales efforts: getting a yes, getting a no, establishing a clear next step, and receiving a referral.

  • Get a Yes: This is often the ideal outcome, as it means the prospect is ready to move forward and do business with you.
  • Get a No: Although a rejection might seem like a setback, a clear "no" can be valuable in sales. It allows you to stop investing time and resources into a prospect who isn't a good fit right now and move on to more promising leads.
  • Get a Clear Next Step: Even if the prospect isn't ready to make a decision yet, it's crucial to establish a clear next step. By defining the next steps, you maintain momentum in the sales process and stay in control of the sales process.
  • Get a Referral: Regardless of the outcome, your prospect may know someone who you should talk to. Always ask for referrals, as these can lead to new opportunities and expand your network of potential clients.

By properly qualifying your prospects, you can avoid wasting valuable time, effort, and resources on leads that won't convert. Focus on the right prospects to improve your sales results and overall productivity. Remember, there are no bad prospects – only those that aren't a good fit for you.

Jim Marshall

Jim Marshall

Jim brings over 35 years of sales, management and marketing experience to the "training table." He has coached hundreds of business owners, sales executives, managers, and corporations to help them achieve greater levels of success and productivity. His areas of expertise range from sales and management training in the advertising and sports marketing fields to professional and business-to-business services, continuing education, new business development, staff hiring and assessments.