By Jeff Beals
When many sales professionals think of prospecting, they think only about the prospect’s interest in their businesses. While that is crucially important, care must be taken to make sure the prospect makes sense for you too.
If you harbor any doubts about the prospect’s likelihood of producing a profit for you, hesitate and do more study before bringing him or her on board.
It’s easy to be blinded by a high-profile, glamor client. You have to be wary of the client who is too good to be true. Too many businesses bring on a client who appears to be outstanding but ends up costing the company more than he generates.
Such costs could include an actual loss of dollars, time, resources, reputation, goodwill or employee happiness and productivity. Factor in opportunity costs as well. A client who is marginally profitable but causes you to miss out on other business is indirectly a money-losing client.
A business can always “fire” a client, but it’s better to not sign up bad clients in the first place rather than go through the unpleasant experience of cutting them off at a later date.
In a sense, prospect qualifying is essentially a form of risk management. All prospects come with a certain degree of risk. It could be the amount of time they take, their lack of willingness to pay or the damage they could do to your reputation just because you’re associated with them.
Getting all star-crossed by a glamorous client can be dangerous especially if it’s the sales manager who falls under the spell. It’s not as big a deal when sales reps are blinded by a fancy client but the sales leaders must be gatekeepers who ask the tough questions.
There’s an old adage among football coaches: “You don’t want to play against a kid six days a week just so you can have him play for you one day a week.” The same thing applies to your business clients – you don’t want one who makes some splashy purchases but runs you and your colleagues through hell the rest of the time.
How do you become a good qualifier or “sales risk manager?”
For starters, keep your eyes and ears open during the sales process. If you see a red flag, don’t ignore it; look into it just to be safe. Conduct some background research. If a prospective client has a reputation for arguing vendor fees or slow payment, they’ll probably cause those same problems for you.
Because qualification is so important, you want to use any and all means at your disposal. Do your homework. Ask questions.
In any business, qualifying whether a prospect is right for you can be a crapshoot, but if you invest time and effort, the vast majority of your clients will turn out to be profitable and enjoyable relationships for you.
Jeff Beals is a professional speaker and award-winning author, who helps professionals enjoy greater success through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (402) 637-9300.
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