James is a sales rep at a popular company in Bengaluru. He is known for his eye for detail and sharp listening skills. He knows everything about the company’s products and services. He makes a good salesman owing to his clear understanding of the customer and their pain points. But he has one drawback – he can’t seem to close more deals.
Although he understands their pain points, he finds it hard to determine if the client is a good fit for his services and if he can convert them into long term customers. He finds it hard to analyse if the client is worth his time and effort. He has closed a few deals in the past, but he could not nurture the relationships beyond the first purchase.
Do your circumstances resonate with James? Then, read on to know the importance of qualification in the sales process and how you can make good judgments while prospecting.
Why is sales qualification important?
It is important to involve qualifications in your sales process as it will help you narrow down leads that will benefit you. You needn’t invest time and effort in pursuing leads that aren’t interested in what your business has to offer. You can also avoid pursuing leads that won’t last long. With clear and concise qualifications, you can convert leads into lasting customers that will stay loyal to your business.
“It also gives salesmen a sense of motivation. They can wholeheartedly invest more time and nurture their leads if they know they will last long. They can do their research more thoroughly and understand challenges and pain points. This will help them offer permanent solutions and personalised suggestions to their leads. The leads as well will appreciate the attention and open up more to the business. Trust and consistent effort will go a long way,” said the Sales Team Lead from a popular agency in Chennai.
What is the process of qualifying my leads?
There are different types of leads that your team will bring in. Some of them include:
- Marketing qualified leads
- Sales qualified leads
- Conversion qualified leads
- Product qualified leads
- Unqualified leads
While the first four have shown some level of interest in your product or services, the last one should be the point of your focus as you need to analyse and check if they are worth pursuing. There are times when a lead doesn’t know yet that they require your services. It takes a bit of persuasion and clear explanations of what you can do for them.
In order to qualify your leads, you can ask them a series of strategic questions. Those who qualify will move into your sales funnel. The others can be set aside to pursue at a later date. In any case, no lead is useless, and you need not discard them from your prospect list.
What kind of questions are we talking about?
The best way to know something is to ask directly. Ensure that your questions are a mix of open-ended and close-ended questions. It will help them answer accurately and it will help you efficiently evaluate the answers too.
Keep your questions specific and objective – not subjective and opinionated. Do your research as well on the company and use that to ask more meaningful questions. Focus on things only the decision makers can answer. Here are some good qualifying questions to get you started:
- What are some challenges that you are currently facing?
- What actions have you taken so far to resolve those issues and has it helped you?
- What results are you expecting in your business?
- Who is most likely to use the service in your team?
- Who will I be speaking to for updates and follow-ups?
- What does your budget look like?
- How soon do you need the product/service?
- Will the decision makers on your team be directly involved in our project?
How do I proceed after I receive my answers?
This is the tricky part – the qualification process. You need to evaluate the prospect list at every stage of your sales process. If any prospect seems to be losing interest or showing signs of doubt, it is best to tend to them individually.
Keep in mind that qualification is a continuous process. From the discovery call stage till closure, you will keep learning more about your leads.
Here are three stages of qualifying that are important while making decisions:
- Organizational level
Should you do more research on your leads? Do you have experience in this industry? Is the company size okay for your business? Match the buyer personas with your requirements and what you can offer them. Check if your products or services can meet the solutions the client is expecting within the estimated budget.
- Opportunity level
How is the prospect benefitted by my service or product? How can I connect my business to their pain points and make them realise their needs? How can I modify or customise my services to help my prospect afford them? How can I get repeat business from this client?
- Stakeholder level
Who are the different stakeholders involved in the customer’s company? Who will be present during the meetings and update your team? Whose decision was it to make this investment with your business? How often can you connect with them and is your budget suitable for them? Who is the key decision maker in the company?
The reason these three stages are important is that you can disqualify a lot of prospects.
“I was pursuing a prospect and things seemed to be shaping well. When I asked them who would be the contact person for the project and how often I could connect with them, we hit a roadblock. They had nobody who could allocate time to speak to our team and nobody in their business knew about all their needs. This was a turn-off for us, and we had to disqualify the lead,” said the Sales Manager of a reputed digital marketing agency in Chennai.
What is the process to disqualify prospects?
If your customer’s strategic goals don’t align with yours, there is no point in pursuing them. It is a process for mutual benefit and if one party is poorly compromised by the deal, then it isn’t worth pursuing it. Here is a simple way you can decide if your leads need to be qualified or considered for disqualification:
BANT Qualification – Budget, Authority, Need, Timeline.
Budget – Does the lead have a budget for this project and is suitable for you?
Authority – Does the person you are speaking with have the authority to sign off on the deal? How many decision-makers are there?
Need – Does the customer have a need for your product or service? Will it solve their pain point?
Timeline – When does the lead want to purchase? Is the timeline provided suitable for the business?
Sales qualification is a vital step in your sales process, and it is something James must learn at the earliest. Yes, a good salesman pursues many leads to arrive at useful ones. But it is pointless to go behind prospects that are not interested or will not receive any value.
James must filter his contacts and ask them relevant questions to determine if he can create value to them, while still making profits for the company. This will help him focus on the contacts that matter and effectively help them find solutions.
Today is the best day to begin learning the importance of sales qualification and understanding how to go about it. If you, like James, wish to enhance your sales qualification process and bring success to your business, click here.