One way to decrease the amount of time you waste on bad sales prospects is to get in a habit of asking qualifying questions in your very first conversation with sales prospects. These are questions that determine if the prospect is a fit and has at least a little probability of moving forward with a purchase at some point.

Pre-Qualify is What is Needed at First
For now, we are just talking about asking qualifying questions in the first conversation with sales prospects. This could be meeting a cold call, it could be talking with someone at a networking event, or it could be an email exchange.

But all we want to do with these questions is determine if there is at least the possibility of a fit for what you are trying to sell. You may want to identify if they are the right size or type of prospect, if they use the type of things that you sell, if they are having any challenges that you can help to fix, or if they are the type of buyer that you should be speaking with.

The Goal is to Determine if it Makes Sense to Keep Talking
These qualifying questions that we ask are not going to get a ton of information and that is fine. We only have a short amount of time in the first conversation anyways.

We are just trying to get enough information to confirm that it makes sense to keep talking in the form of possibly moving on to the next stage in our sales cycle. For example, in a lot of situations, a good next step will be to schedule some sort of appointment with the sales prospect.

An appointment is going to take a decent amount of time out of our calendar. Time is extremely valuable and while we have a quota and want as many meetings as possible, scheduling a meeting with a poor-quality prospect that has an almost zero probability of purchasing will hurt our results more than anything.

Deeper Qualify in the Next Stage
As we just explained, we are going to ask fairly light qualifying questions in this first conversation and we will save the deeper questions for a later step in our sales process.

In order to fully qualify the prospect, we might want to ask them questions to identify if they truly need what we have versus just wanting it. It will be good to identify how much purchasing authority the prospect has. You might want to probe to see if money or funding is available for the purchase. You may want to identify how genuine the prospect’s intent to purchase is.

But there is no need to ask these deep questions in the first conversation. Not only is there not enough time and attention to work with, but we also don’t really need to know all of this just yet. Our goal is to move to the next stage of the sales process and it is the lighter qualifying questions that will determine if we should try to pursue and invest time in that direction.