There are few things more disheartening than focusing time, energy and thought on a particular sales pitch, only to have it end with a shake of the head and a firm “No thanks”. You wonder where it went wrong: you thought this was a guaranteed sale, but did you pre-qualify your prospect?
Naturally, there can be a variety of reasons for losing a sale, but often it can be when you don’t pre-qualify your prospects. We all remember Alec Baldwin’s mantra in the film Glengarry Glen Ross – ‘Always be closing.’ But sometimes, those in sales try to close a sale long before it’s even a sale. Consider the salesman who sees you walk into the shop and immediately launches into a well-rehearsed and confident sales speech – and this is before they even know why you’re there!
Qualify Your Leads
Rather than blindly selling to those who may not even want or need your product or service you need to qualify warm leads. It begins with communication. Before you even launch a sales pitch – whether it’s on a shop floor or at a business meeting – you need to know, and ask, probing questions to understand your potential customer and their specific needs.
The Who, The What, The Why
So what sort of questions should you be asking, in order to create a successful, qualified sales lead? First, you ought to ascertain precisely who it is you’re talking to, and follow this up with questions that can reveal what it is they’re looking for. This should be followed by discovering their ultimate purpose – are they genuinely looking to buy, or are they still considering their options; are you their only choice or are they simply getting a feel for each company they’re in talks with before committing?
Assess the Finances and Solution
It is then worth gently questioning whether or not they have the money to spend on your particular product or service. If they do, you must then discuss with them whether or not you can actually solve their problems with what you’re offering. If your service or product can’t fully help them, they’re not going to buy from you, no matter how convincing you are – and if they do, it’s only going to cause problems down the line as they demand refunds, disharmonise your reputation and eventually cancel their account with you.
Making the Decision
One of the biggest questions you need to ask yourself is: can this person authorise this sale? Are you dealing with the decision maker? Can they personally sign on the dotted line? If the answer is no, you’ll need to talk to the person that can – you know best what your company can do for the client, and hearing it first hand is far better than convincing a lower-level employee, only to have it rejected by the boss.
Disqualify to Qualify
In effect, to qualify the lead, you must go through all the steps that could potentially disqualify the lead. This is only achievable through the use of effective communication – converse with your potential customer, listen to them rather than simply talking at them, take the time to get to know them and their ultimate requirements. Only then can you be sure that you’re dealing with a genuine sales prospect.
To truly pre-qualify your prospects is an art-form, and we hope you found our tips on how to pre-qualify your prospects useful. If you would like to outsource sales lead generation, learn more about how we can assist with outsourced telemarketing services or are just looking for some virtual sales support – feel free to call us on 0800 994 9016 or ask for a free consultation.