In many respects, qualifying prospects is like investigative journalism. The reporter (or, in this case, the salesperson) has to find out the facts of the story, based on who, what, when, where, why, and how. That means coming up with answers to the following questions:
- Does the customer actually have a need for our products or services?
- Can the customer afford to buy what we're selling?
- Is my primary contact the person who has the ability to make a buying decision, or is this person just gathering information? If not, who does have the authority to purchase?
The more you know about a prospect, the better off you are. But the most important part of qualifying the prospect has to do with the why.
Why is what gives a sales professional true insight as to what's really important to the prospect. It also lets the rep know what's necessary in order to sell to that prospect.
Coach your sales reps to find out why this customer is interested in what you're selling. Ask them, "How will partnering with us help this customer?" Encourage them to consider the following when they answer that question:
Will our solution help this customer
- benefit financially,
- trim costs,
- streamline operations,
- increase market share, or
- expand into different applications?
Or is there a more personal reason for the interest, such as to impress the board of directors or replace a current vendor who isn't treating the prospect as a valued customer?
Use these coaching questions to help your reps to become more efficient and effective sellers and keep from getting bogged down by pursuing deals that aren't great opportunities.