Most people don’t know how to qualify a prospect. The biggest mistake I see salespeople making, is trying to sell to prospects that are not qualified. They think that as long as they are a smooth-talker, they can convince the prospect to buy from them. In reality, qualifying a prospect is the most important step in the sales process.
You must learn how to qualify a prospect if you want to succeed in sales. You want to find out early if the prospect is qualified, so you can make a decision to either hop on a call or move on. In order to find out if a prospect is a good fit for your product or service, qualify them based on these 4 factors:
This is how to qualify a prospect. If even one of these factors are missing, move on. Your time is too valuable to waste on unqualified prospects. The time you spend trying to convince an unqualified prospect, is much better used on a prospect that is ready to buy. Let’s discuss each of these 4 factors in more detail:
When Should You Ask The Prospect To ‘Show You The Money’?
The first factor is money. Here’s an age old question in sales: When should you talk about the money? Should you discuss about price upfront, or talk about it at the end after the prospect sees the value?
Most people who I’ve asked this question, think you should talk about it at the end. That you should tell them all the benefits beforehand and let them see how valuable your service is, before revealing your price. The problem is, you could spend two hours talking with your prospect, getting them excited and then when it’s time to discuss payment, they tell you they have no money.
Now, you just wasted two hours talking to a prospect who can’t afford your product or service. That’s two hours you could have spent with a prospect who DID have the money, and was ready to pay you. That’s why when I am qualifying a prospect, I want to find out as early as possible if they can afford my fee. If they don’t have the money, or they are not willing to spend that kind of money, there is no point for us to go any further.
However, that doesn’t mean you should turn down every prospect who doesn’t have enough money. There is a difference between someone who is unwilling to pay and someone who can’t pay. They may not have the money now, but they may be able to come up with it in the future. Payment plans, IOU’s and installments are always an alternative option when doing business. That’s why when you are qualifying a prospect, focus on if they are willing to pay, rather than if they can pay.
How To Close Deals Faster By Finding Out When The Prospect Is Ready
The second factor you should qualify your prospect’s on, is time. You’ve spoken with the prospect and they are more than able to pay your fee. However, when they do it is another question.
Let’s say the conversation goes something like this:
You: “So Mr. Prospect I understand you are interested in my service and that I charge $2K is that correct?”
Them: “Yes that’s correct. $2K is no problem for me.”
You: “When would you like to get started?”
Them: “Uhh I need to think about that…”
A prospect that needs time to ‘think about it’ is not qualified. Imagine if I gave you a million dollars – all you would have to do is say yes to my offer. Would you be ready to say yes right there and then, or would need time to think about it? If your prospect really is interested, they’ll be ready to move forward immediately.
When qualifying a prospect, find out if the prospect is immediately ready to move forward. If they aren’t, chances are that the prospect will never be. The more time you give a prospect to think about it, the more likely they are going to say no to your offer. Treat a prospect who is not time ready as an unqualified prospect, and find another. It saves countless hours in meetings, follow ups and conversations for both you and the prospect.
Nothing is worse than repeatedly following up with a prospect who isn’t ready to make a decision. It wastes your time and energy, and annoys your prospect. If your prospect isn’t ready to make a decision on a million dollar offer, when will they be?
Finding Out Your Prospect’s Needs And Desires
The third factor to qualify a prospect on, is do they have a need? Do they see the value you bring? Is your product or service desirable to the prospect? If there is no need, there is no desire. And when there is no desire, there is no sale.
Here’s my question to you: Why are you talking to a prospect in the first place, if they don’t see the value in what you do? A prospect that does not see the value in what you can offer, is wasting your time. You are going to spend the entire meeting trying to convince them why your product is superior, why they should choose you over the competition, and why they need you. That is not a sales meeting, that is you sucking up to the prospect.
If the prospect does not see the value, they will not be interested. And if they are not interested, there is no way you will be able to close them. The reason you want to qualify a prospect, is so you don’t waste your time. If the prospect isn’t interested, move on. There are other people out there who are interested, and waiting for you to find them.
Don’t Try To Sell A Steak To A Vegan
I know many salespeople that think they can close a prospect that has no need for it. It’s like trying to sell a steak to a vegan – no matter how good your product may be, they are not interested.
Salesperson: “Would you like a taste of our world famous beef steak?”
Vegan: “I don’t eat meat.”
Salesperson: “Oh but you don’t understand – this is the finest AAA quality grade beef in all of North America. It’s tender, juicy, and succulently melts in your mouth. Our brand of beef has been featured in the most prestigious cooking magazines around the world.”
Vegan: “That sounds terrific, but I don’t eat meat.”
In order to know what needs your prospect has, find out their problems. Your prospect’s problems are causing them pain, and they are looking for someone to take that pain away. If there is no pain, there is no need. And if there’s no need, your prospect will not see why your offer is valuable. A prospect with no problems is not a qualified prospect. Move on and find a prospect that does have problems and wants you to solve them.
Remember: Where there’s a need, there’s a desire. Position your product or service as the desirable solution to their problems, and your prospect will be begging to pay you for it.
Speaking To The Decision Maker
The fourth factor to look at when qualifying a prospect is decision. You want to find out if you are speaking to someone who can make a decision – called the decision maker. In most cases, this is the CEO or someone else who has a level of high authority.
A prospect who is not in a position to make decisions is not qualified. Ask yourself – how would this prospect know what the boss wants? It’s like speaking to a 9-5 employee and telling them you can help the company generate an additional 200% in revenue. Unless that employee is in a managerial position, they are not going to care what you have to say. It has nothing to do with them – and they do not benefit from it. All they care about is their paycheque and keeping their job.
Whenever possible, speak directly with the decision maker. They will be interested to hear what you have to say, because they are in a position to benefit from your offer.
The Obstacles Standing Between You And The Decision Maker
Of course, speaking to the decision maker is not always possible. Between you and them, is a hierarchy of people that act as gatekeepers. These gatekeepers prevent unwanted visitors from bothering the people at the top, who are very busy with their everyday schedule.
For example, if you called my office and wanted to get my autograph, it would be nearly impossible. You would have to go through my secretary, managers, supervisors, and directors, before I even considered talking with you. And if your request is not worth my time, forget about it.
In certain scenarios like this, it might be necessary for you to speak with people who aren’t who you’re looking for. They may not be the decision makers, but they are someone who can get you in touch with one. Treat them the same as you would treat the CEO – because they’ll determine whether or not you get to speak with them.
Realize that if they are in a position to make a decision, they are most likely an important person in a company. The more importance you hold, the more power you have, and the busier you will be. That’s why you should treat everyone with respect, even if they aren’t the decision maker. You may be surprised – sometimes the least likely person to be a decision maker is the person you wanted to speak to all along.
The Secret To Successfully Closing Deals: Qualify Hard, Close Easy
When it comes to qualifying prospects, you want to be as strict as possible.
“But Dan, won’t strict requirements turn people away?”
That’s exactly why you want to be strict. You don’t want to talk to prospects that aren’t ready to buy. Statistics show that 50% of prospects are not a good fit for what you sell. Instead of getting on a call and wasting hours of your time trying to close them on something they had no intention of buying in the first place, you can use that time to close prospects that are actually serious about considering your offer.
When you spend the time to properly qualify a prospect, you are also making it easier to close them. A properly qualified prospect does not need to be sold anything. They are already interested in your offer, and want to learn more. As a closer, your only job when talking to a qualified prospect is to show them how you can provide value and solve their problems. If you are able to do that, they are more than happy to pay you your fee, and move forward immediately.
However, an unqualified prospect is an energy vampire. They’ll expect you to come up with a suave sales pitch to convince them to listen to what you have to say. They will ask you all sorts of dumb questions, that have nothing to do with the conversation and drive you crazy. And after you’ve spent hours talking with them, they’ll tell you that they need even more time to think about it.
That’s why properly qualifying a prospect is so important to the closing process. If you do your homework properly, the prospect will close themselves without you needing to do anything.
Should You Automate The Qualifying Process?
I often get asked if salespeople should qualify prospects automatically. Such as posting your price on your website and listing out exactly what kind of prospect you are looking to do business with. The answer is, it depends.
You don’t want to qualify prospect’s by putting your price on a website for the whole world to see. There’s no quicker way to turn prospects away than by immediately stating that your fee is $5,000 – because that is all they will focus on. People can’t judge value based on just a number. If you are offering a valuable service, the price you charge isn’t going to be cheap.
Instead, what you want to do is find out as much information from the prospect as you can. That means taking the time to discover what their needs are, whether or not they are the decision maker, and the reason behind why they are interested in talking to you in the first place. Once you have a better picture of who your prospect is, you can get them on the phone and close them.
Get Them On A Call: The Phone Is Your Best Friend
The point of doing all of this work – qualifying a prospect and seeing if they are a good fit, is to get them on the phone.
Everyone buys for different reasons. And until you talk to the prospect, you won’t know what that reason is. The biggest mistake you can make, is trying to assume you know what they want.
You think they are buying because of X reason, but in reality they could be buying for Y reason. Now all of a sudden you are pushing your beliefs onto the prospect when you have no idea what they want.
You: “I’m confident that you’ll love the V6 engine in your new sports car. There’s no other model that competes with what we have in stock.”
Them: “But I’m buying it because I like the color.”
Prospect’s Lie All The Time: Don’t Listen To What They Say
The second reason you want to get your prospect’s on the phone, is because they lie. Prospect’s lie ALL THE TIME. They could tell you they aren’t interested in buying anything, but give you their credit card the minute you make them an appealing offer.
Human beings are naturally indecisive. We change our minds very easily, and don’t always do what we say. That’s why when it comes to closing, there’s additional factors you need to look at besides the words people use. Body language, tonality, and subconscious behavior, are all things that reflect on what the prospect is actually thinking or feeling. A good salesperson will know how to detect these behaviors, and leverage them to gain control of the sales conversation.Prospect's LIE. Don't always believe what they say. Click To Tweet
The Best Salespeople Qualify Before They Close
If you want to increase your closing rate, learn how to qualify a prospect. The most successful salespeople understand that properly learning how to qualify a prospect is just as important as having the skills to close them.
Closing qualified prospects is much easier than dealing with unqualified ones. You’ve put them through a set of requirements, and have a good idea about their budget, needs, position and how soon they are looking to get started. All that’s left, is for you to show them how you can provide value to their business. Finding qualified prospects is hard, closing them is easy.
If you want to know more in depth information about closing, click here to learn how my Executive Director, Desmond sets the agenda and qualifies his prospects.