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Qualifying entails gathering insights necessary to make a good judgment. Only after you’ve qualified leads can you really know if investing your time and other marketing resources is worth it. After all, you want to spend your time and resources on people who will actually buy into your business and not just any random person who may or may not be interested in whatever it is that you are selling.

Basically, on how to qualify prospects and leads, you need to be able to answer the following questions:

  • Should I sell to a given prospect?
  • What is the best course of action to close a deal?
  • Is this prospect a good fit for my offer?
  • Is this a viable sales opportunity?

There’s this excitedness that causes many salespeople to make the mistake of jumping to the pitch too quickly, without having first gained a proper understanding of their prospect.

If you step back to process what happens when you don’t qualify a prospect, you will realize that you’re essentially throwing darts in the dark, operating like a mindless sales monkey (no pun intended), and this will only hurt your performance on several levels and might even make you loose some level of confidence in yourself and/or the product/service. In essence, qualifying leads will help you channel your resources to the right set of people and this is what we encourage of our Independent Marketers at NYCBusines.

Do you know that in order to increase your chances of selling, you need to listen more and talk less? A lot of salespeople believe that convincing leads and prospects to buy is in the multitude of words that they speak to them. Your prospects could easily loose out of what your true motivations are because you’re too busy telling them what you THINK you want to hear. This is what will often make your chances of selling much lower if you’re talking rather than actively listening.

Sometimes you might successfully sell to people who shouldn’t buy your product in the first place and while this will put a smile on your face, it will usually not have a positive long term effect on your business that would have translated to more sales especially through referrals and loyalty.

Some of the questions that will motivate a great sale are:

  • What are their pain points?
  • What’s the context in which they evaluate your solution?
  • What kind of person/organization are you dealing with?
  • What is their buying process?
  • How long does it take this company to buy a product?
  • What’s the deal value?,

Answers to these questions will help you customize your pitch for your prospects.

Some of your best prospects might only become a customer if you invest a certain amount of effort into getting them on board. If you don’t know who those high-value prospects are, you’ll miss out on the chance to sell them.

Qualifying your leads properly, will help you divert your resources in the right direction so you don’t waste a lot of time following up, and attempting to sell to prospects that are not a good fit for your company.

How to Qualify
Qualifying prospects and leads is all about asking the right questions and eliciting the right information from the prospects.

There are four areas you want to focus on with your questions.

Needs

What are these customers needs? Is it about reaching certain goals in revenue? What are the needs of
the individual, the team, and the company?
You have to know how to fulfill their wants and needs. What are the results they want to get? And how will those results affect them, their team and their company ?

Decision making process

How do they make decisions? How many people are involved? Which departments are involved? What’s
their typical buying process like? How much time does it takes them to buy a product? For instance, some organizations have 10 month purchasing processes. If you need to close deals in  three months, then going on with them is no good except you need to  When do they plan to buy? Maybe they're not ready to buy now,
but will in the future.

Customer profile

How well do they match your ideal customer profile? How big is the company? What industry are they in? Where are your ideal customers located? What is the ideal use case? Which tools have they used in the past? What kind of ecosystem are they playing in?
The good thing to do when considering a customer profile is look out for pointers where you solution is not needed, for example, if someone earns $200 a month, it might cost them a fortune to learn English with our NYCEnglish app and they are better off using a free alternative. If however, someone earns $1000 a month, it’s way easier to ask them to use our English learning app as it’s within their comfort zone and should find this helpful, it will be way easier for them to recommend their friends who are in the same, or higher pay grade as them.

Competition

Who are you competing against? Which other vendors have they worked with? Are they evaluating your solution vs. building their own solution? What are the criteria they base their decision on? If you know all these things, you will have a really great idea if someone is a qualified prospect or not.
Create a simple, one-page document that lists all the crucial questions you want to ask or the information you want to elicit.

How NOT to qualify

Just like every other processes, there are Dos and Don’ts in the process of qualifying. While the most common problem is without a doubt that sales reps don’t qualify their prospect well enough, there are also some people who take qualifying too far, and simply do it badly.

You can’t just rapidly fire questions at your prospects thereby turning it into an interrogation of sort. You need to be  smooth about it and make the process as natural as possible. Weave the qualifying questions into the natural fabric of an engaging conversation, and approach them with an open sense of curiosity which will make it easier for you to Identify red flags during qualifying.

Some of the easily noticeable red flags include that the answers you get from prospects won’t paint a coherent picture as some of the things they say doesn’t fit together with other things they are saying or responding to. At other times, a prospect is not completely forthright with you. You need to know if they’re not being honest with you and by simply letting them know for example that you feel like they are not following, or that they are not being open with you can in some cases cause them to be intrigued at how much attention you are investing in the sales process.

Some of the easy ways to bring up such point is by stating that you are struggling to understand this or that or that you don’t get how you got from conversation A to B. You could also choose to ask them a question from a point they just made to see if they even know where their conversation is headed.

You can also use the recommendation technique at times like this and it involves explaining how another prospect had doubts like he/she is having and how you both did this to help the prospect see sense in what you were saying.

Don’t just listen to what prospects say, but also to how they say it. If they tell you they’re super excited about implementing your solution, but their voice is flat and muted … maybe they’re not really super excited but are looking for a way to have you end the conversation. When you notice this, give them opportunities to clarify things. A great thing to say is “Great, will you like a test period?” if you solution has a trial period. If their voice is really flat, you can ask “What are the problems you anticipate using our solution.” This could help you understand them better or even craft for them a more suitable option.

There are times your qualified lead is always passively with you, or even while qualifying the lead, they are sounding switched off, it’s often best to give them some space but not let them out of your site. Ensure that you have them in a mailing list, or they are following your on an active social media account. You won’t want to be hard on them and you also don’t want them to not have a chance to easily connect with you should the need arise!

What if many/most of your prospects don’t qualify?

Sometimes the vast majority of people you talk to simply are not a good match for your product/service and that’s not a bad thing. If this is where you are right now, it’s either that your search is too generic or you’re not looking in the right places. Try other ways to get and qualify leads and keep improving the ones that work the most.

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