By Jeff Beals
Perhaps more difficult than sourcing prospects is the art of qualifying them.
Prospect qualification is one of the most significant factors separating highly successful deal-makers from mediocre ones and certainly from the poor performers. Qualification allows you to work efficiently, separating the suspects from true prospects. It allows you to spend your time wisely by identifying which prospects have the highest likelihood of becoming clients.
When you qualify, you are determining the prospect’s level of interest, identifying who influences them (or who the real decision maker is), thus establishing the client’s time horizon and assessing whether the client would be sufficiently profitable if signed. The most successful sales professionals have developed advanced qualifying skills, most important of which are questioning and listening. You qualify prospects by finding out as much as you can about them and their motivations and then honestly assessing if they are truly interested in you and whether or not you can properly serve them. Ask tons of questions. Do your due diligence by thoroughly vetting prospects. This means you research them through a variety of means often without their knowing it. The earlier in the process you can qualify a prospect, the more efficient you will be with your time and money.
Sometimes you have to get a little personally involved in order to discover the true decision maker, but be careful not to get too personally committed. That can make it hard to see possible signs that landing the sale would be unlikely and not worth your time. In your business, ask questions such as, “Who are the other people who will weigh in on this decision?” “Who else in your company do I need to meet?” “How useful would it be for the two of us to meet with your boss sometime?” You must identify who is really calling the shots as early as possible.
With only 365 days in a year and a limited number of waking hours per day, prospectors cannot afford to waste valuable time “chasing windmills” no matter how grand and glamorous such prospects might appear on the surface. Be aggressive and set stretch goals for yourself, but be brutally honest too. Can you truly solve the would-be client’s problems? Can you provide great value to the prospect?
Remember that clients determine what is valuable—not you. If you are not convinced you are equipped to perform according to the prospective client’s specific needs and values, you will most likely not get that client.
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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