Have You Qualified?

Now I’m not talking about race car driving! I am referring to how you qualify your prospects. Remember I’ve said that you don’t want to do business with everybody. And in reality, you can’t – everyone is not a potentially relevant or good client.

One of the most critical steps in the sales process is qualifying your prospect.

Ralph starts communication with a new prospect. He asks some qualifying questions but is having trouble getting some hard answers. The prospect won’t tell him the budget and isn’t clear about who the decision maker is. Ralph has three choices. He can:
a. Keep asking these questions hoping for an answer.
b. Go ahead and provide a quote based on the other information he’s received.
c. Tell the prospect that he really would like to work with them but without these key pieces of information he won’t be able to quote accurately and doesn’t want to waste their time. In this case, Ralph is ready to walk away from the prospect.

Which avenue do you think is the best one? If you answered ‘C’ you are right. Ralph chose ‘A’ and ended up with an angry prospect and no quote. The prospect wasn’t going to answer those questions no matter what and got annoyed because Ralph just kept asking them.

If he’d chosen ‘B’ he would have run the risk of being too high in his quote. Now he could have offered some ranges and let the prospect know that since he didn’t have their budget numbers he was offering low, middle, and high solutions. That can work.

I believe ‘C’ is the best option because when you are talking with someone who doesn’t want to provide you with key information you need, they are sending you a signal that either they aren’t interested in working with you, or they are going to be difficult throughout the process.

Think about this from your own consumer point of view. When you want information from a vendor, don’t you give them as much information as you can so you can get an accurate quote from them? You don’t want to leave them to their own devises and run the risk of being quoted a Cadillac solution when what you really want is the Chevy. Or vice versa.

At the root of all of this is the idea that the salesperson should be managing the sales process – not the prospect. You have to be able to stand firm and be willing to walk away if the prospect isn’t forthcoming. Your time is valuable. Use it wisely.

When I spoke with Ralph about his situation he said that in this economy, you want to take every opportunity you get. Okay. My question is this – was this really an opportunity? Maybe he wasn’t talking to the decision maker. Maybe the person he was talking to didn’t know the budget and therefore couldn’t divulge it. Whatever the reason, Ralph wasn’t getting what he needed to do his job effectively.

As a salesperson your time is best spent with prospects you can work with. Those are the people who will provide you with the answers to your questions. Your job is to ask those questions and get the answers before you move to the quoting phase. You will be most successful when you are willing to walk away from the people who don’t want to provide you with those answers.

Copyright© 2009 Seize This Day Coaching

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