Qualifying a prospect (or a current customer) is a skill that many sales people skip during their sales cycle.
Too many sales professionals think that because the two of you are talking, they must be qualified to buy. That unfortunately is flawed logic and rarely the case.
Just because I have followed up with a prospect 22 times, and they agreed to have a free lunch on me doesn’t mean they are a qualified prospect. I wish it was that easy, I really do. But that is simply not the case.
And as I have grown in my sales experience I have noticed a few things about sales people and when or how they qualify a prospect.
First of all, the time spent properly qualifying a prospect seems to be situational.
When a sales rep has a full pipeline and lots of prospects, they tend to spend a lot more time on qualifying each new lead. Ironically they spend more time in this process of sales.
They don’t have a lot of time to chase rainbows so they want to make sure that they use their time efficiently and only on the sales they have an actual chance of closing.
With a full pipeline, the sales person will be much more direct with answers relating to pricing, timeline, availability, and offerings.
If a prospect calls them up asking for a blue widget to match all their other blue widgets, the busy professional won’t waste time trying to sell them a green widget.
When the sales rep has a thin pipeline, few leads, and a lot of time on their hands they spend less time qualifying a sale. They are more worried about making quota then they are about creating a quality relationship.
They will pounce on anything that moves and are quick to jump the gun on the close.
They are pulled in 5 different directions from prospects that are just using them as column fodder. Using their products, services, and pricing against another competitor who has probably already won the sale.
They will also often lower the integrity of the product or service being offered. If a prospect asks for a blue widget, this sales rep will try to convince them that the green widgets are all the rave now, will help accent all the other blue widgets they have, lower the price of the green widget, and offer a free yellow widget to close the sale.
Not Qualifying Leads To A Bad Experience
This is true for both the salesperson selling and the customer buying.
If you don’t properly qualify your customer you end up trying to convince them to buy something that they don’t want and don’t need.
Let me say that again. If they are qualified they want and need. If they are unqualified they don’t want and don’t need.
There’s no way around it. If you do a poor job of qualifying the prospect then you are trying to push a rock uphill. It’s frustrating and will end up hurting the relationship in the long run.
You come off as a pushy salesman and no one wants to deal with one of those. I know I don’t.
It also will lead more often to buyers remorse. The buyer will think that they were pushed, coerced, manipulated, or bullied into buying something that they shouldn’t have.
Not Qualifying Wastes Resources
As I mentioned at the top qualifying prospects is a matter of efficiency. The more efficient you can be (and have to be) the better job you’ll do at qualifying before working on a sale.
This will lead to better customers, larger sales, more commissions, and fewer headaches.
Below are the five resource areas that are wasted when you don’t properly qualify a customer.
It wastes TIME: Selling to an unqualified customer is like sitting in a rocking chair. It gives you something to do but you aren’t going anywhere.
Every single person on this earth has the exact same amount of time to use in a given day. Where we differ is how we decide to use it.
Believe it or not if you spend more time on qualification you will spend less time on wasted sales. You will quickly be able to tell if you are spinning your wheels on a prospect.
And not to say that they will never buy, but right now may not be the best time for them. And that’s ok. Get their timeline, agree to when the two of you will start the discussion “for real” and move on to other opportunities.
It wastes MONEY: The calls you make, the handwritten letters you send, the lunches you pay for, and the time you spend are all wasting money on an unqualified lead.
Now I do want to differentiate doing the above for the sake of prospecting versus trying to close a deal that will never close.
If you are prospecting, doing all that before you have been able to completely qualify that is one thing. But if you have qualified, and are simply trying to ram a sale down their throat then you are wasting money.
It wastes ENERGY: It can be very taxing trying to sell ice to an Eskimo. They don’t want it and they don’t need it so if you’re trying to sell it to them you are continuously trying to swim upstream.
I promise you, there are people and businesses out there that want to buy your stuff. They are ready and willing. But if you are wasting your energy on only those who have found themselves in front of you, you will not have enough left over for those who want it and deserve it.
It wastes RAPPORT: When you sell something to someone who doesn’t want it or doesn’t need it they very often feel cheated.
You shift their perspective of you as someone who had their best interest in mind to someone who is only trying to make a sale. They don’t feel you are serving them anymore, you are selling them.
This destroys rapport and ruins sales relationships.
It wastes REFERRALS: We all have that friend who we avoid when we see them at the grocery store. The one who sells insurance or knives or vacuums.
We’ve told them many times that we are not in the market (unqualified) for their wares and yet they continue to “have an opportunity” for us.
But what if instead of being the pushy salesman they worked only on developing the relationship like a real friend would do. If they did that, and focused on building relationship, people would know what they sell. And when the time was right they would buy from that sales person.
And if they weren’t viewed as a pushy salesman they would be much more likely to get referrals from those friends.
So how much time do you spend on qualifying leads?
~ Johnny Bravo
Image courtesy of graur razvan ionut / FreeDigitalPhotos.net