Not all contacts can be defined as is a lead, correspondingly not all leads are “sales-ready”. Some sales teams assume that every lead that marketing has offered is already qualified for sales. They go through the whole process of trying to nurture the lead and close a deal, but all their efforts are wasted due to the leads not being qualified.
An efficient lead qualification screening can help your sales team save time by not wasting time and resources chasing ill-suited prospects. This also allows the marketing team to more closely align with the needs and goals of the sales team.
The key to overall corporate success is to make sure that you are pursuing the right prospects, and that they are properly qualified. By qualifying prospects, you ensure not only corporate success but also, in the long run, customer success.
Read more tips on how to create customer success in sales here.
Determining whether a lead is qualified or not is not only done according to just a single rule. Companies typically follow a set of definitions to measure the sales qualification of the leads. Whether you run a marketing and sales team, or if you’re on your own, one crucial step at the start of lead generation is to decide what actually makes a ‘good’ lead.
A ‘qualified opportunity’ is more specific than a ‘lead’, and will need to meet certain criteria that you identify as the right fit for your business.
When you talk to new prospects you need to know how to qualify customers effectively first. This is the process of establishing whether they are “the MAN”.
In order to help prospects, you would need to ask them a variety of questions. Without asking questions, it’s impossible to know how to best to help a prospect find a solution, or even know if you have the right products to help them out.
The first thing we need to know and understand is that, for a lead to be called a “good lead”, we have to be able to answer “yes” to these three questions.
Do they have the money?
Do they have the authority to spend it?
Do they have a need that we can satisfy?
Making sure your prospects can afford the solution you are offering to fix their problem should they decide they want it, is part of the qualifying process. But as with all things in sales, the sales questions we ask, how we ask them, and when we ask them makes the difference between closing and losing a sale.
Money questions will help you discover whether your prospect can afford your product or service. What is your budget question? You will need to draw out a figure on how much your prospect expects to spend for the investment to fulfill their needs solve their problems. Now would be a good time to convince them about the typical ROI for your solution and what makes their investment worth it.
Adapt these questions to fit your product, service, personality, drill and rehearse them until they become automatic for you:
Are you responsible for establishing the budget?
It pays to know who has the power and control over their sales budget. If you end up facing a pricing objection, you’ll know exactly who you need to talk to about getting the additional budget. Remember that budgets are decided by different stakeholders at different companies. If the one you’re talking to already is the one responsible for the establishing the budget, it’ll be a lot easier discussing their budgetary investment.
Do you already have a budget allocated?
Most of the time, a company will have a specific budget set aside for purchasing solutions. Knowing this info, it will enable you to apply strategies about potential up-selling and cross-selling opportunities. Even if prospects don’t reveal what their sales budget is, knowing that they have a budget in place should help you understand how sales-ready they are.
What are you ideally looking to invest?
Instead of using the word “spend” with your prospects, help them to realize that purchasing your solution is an “investment.” You can also launch a conversation about what the returns on their investment can be to help you negate pricing objections before they even arise. It also puts the responsibility on you to discuss ROI for that investment, so always be prepared.
During your first conversation with a prospect, it’s important to understand what their vision is for the business. That is the only time you can identify how or if you can help. In order to have a successful first call, it’s first and foremost important to understand if you’re talking to the right person.
Authority questions should be to help you figure your prospect company’s organizational structure. Asking these questions will give you a better idea on who the key decision makers are in the company.
How does your company evaluate new solutions?
Asking how their company evaluates new solutions can provide you with very useful data. Your prospect may also volunteer exactly which stakeholders are involved in evaluating new purchases that will be made. Likewise, they might freely volunteer who has the authority to make decisions.
In addition to yourself, who else at your company is facing these problems?
This question offers another view for learning who has authority on purchasing decision. It’s important to quickly know who all the key decision makers are in your prospect company. If possible, try to figure out who the primary decision maker is and who are the influencers. Each company is different in terms of corporate structure, so keep in mind that sometimes the decision maker with the most pull might not be who you think it is at first.
What’s your purchasing process?
When selling to companies, it’s strategically important to be aware what their buying process is. Does their CEO need to sign off on deals? Does their company prefer to start small with pilot programs? Would setting up a group meeting with all the key stakeholders be more ideal? Instead of asking all of these questions individually, you can simply ask your prospect their process for reaching a purchasing decision. They’ll likely talk you through their entire process and give you valuable information that can help you manage the deal.
Need questions are needed to determine whether your product or service is suitable for your prospect. You need to believe that your product or service is able to solve their problems.
A prospect who has a need for what you’re selling won’t necessarily be aware of it yet when you first reach out to him. This is why the sales qualifying questions you’re going to ask your prospects are important since these can help them to realize that need and at the same time you’re uncovering information for yourself.
What’s the business problem you’re seeking to fix with this offering?
Change is never easy. Businesses don’t undertake new implementations and processes just for the fun of it. If there’s no real problem the prospect is trying to solve, there’s no real reason for them to buy. Establish what their pain points are before diving into other questions. It can either be a known issue or a problem the prospect wasn’t even aware of.
Have you tried to solve this problem in the past? If so, why didn’t that solution work?
On the other hand, it’s possible that the prospect has attempted a solution before, but for whatever reason, it didn’t work. Digging into the past can uncover that what the best solution is – or that your prospect needs what you sell ASAP.
What happens if you do nothing about the problem?
If your prospect’s answer goes something like “well, not much,” they don’t have an urgent need for a solution. In this respect, the sales representative should either disqualify the lead or explain to them the possible problems that lie ahead if it goes unresolved (only if they truly believe this).
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