One of the most important steps for a salesperson to take is due to time is limited and one of our most valuable resources. It is important that we get as much out of the time that we have to work with due to time cannot be replaced. To improve sales performance, we need to find a way to increase our time spent with prospects which have a high probability of purchasing and, in turn, decrease our time spent with those that do not. Qualifying prospects is the key way to accomplish this.
One way to approach qualifying prospects is to use a two-step process:
Step 1 Soft Qualifying
Typically, you will begin talking to and working with a prospect early in the sales cycle stage in which the lead is just being created. Some examples are talking to a prospect during a cold call, at networking events, call backs from inbound web leads, etc.
In the early stage of your conversations, you want to soft qualify a prospect first. This means to ask questions to first identify if it even makes sense to continue talking or to meet at all. First, we just need to identify if theres any potential for the prospect to fit with what we have to offer.
It doesnt make sense for either party to spend their time conversation and/or possibly meeting if there isnt at least a slight potential for a fit discovered early in the call. If you reach this point while qualifying a prospect, there could be a positive outcome due to you then proceed to find a prospect that does have a potential need for what you are trying to sell.
The key areas to focus with soft qualifying are outlined below:
- Current state: What are the current processes, systems, and vendors in the area that your products or services impact?
- Level of satisfaction: How are things going? Good, OK, or could be better?
- Organizational details: Is the prospect the right person for us to talk to?
Step 2 Hard Qualifying
Once you have scheduled a formal meeting, its time to work on at a deeper level and performing hard qualifying. While soft qualifying is to simply determine if it even makes sense to keep conversing, hard qualifying is determining if theres a potential deal and if theres a pressing need to move forward.
The following questions can be asked in the following categories in order to measure how qualified the prospect is as well as how high the probability is that they will purchase:
- Need vs. want: What happens if you do nothing?
- Funding: Has the budget for this project been approved?
- Timing: Is there a date when you need the purchase made by?
- Authority: What is the decision making process?
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