Qualification is one of THE most important steps when it comes to sales. Without knowing what a prospect is looking for and what their needs are, you can’t have a structured sales process.
There are a lot of definitions when it comes to sales qualification. For me, sales qualification is a process of determining whether both parties have a mutual fit. By both parties, I mean the buyer and the seller.
You’re probably familiar with terms such as BANT, MEDDIC or CHAMP. These are some of the different ways in which you can qualify leads. The biggest flaw in qualifying leads in such a way is that it feels very robotic for the person on the other end of the line. Conversations always go through the same flow and don’t leave much room for deviating from the topic, since at the back of your mind, will always be the qualification questions you need to ask.
Your job is to identify qualified prospects, help them understand their needs and help them gain confidence in you so they will do business with you.
I, wholeheartedly agree with the above statement. Your job as a salesperson is to identify qualified prospects. But, most importantly, it is to determine what the needs of a particular prospect are and if those needs can be solved by the service you provide.
Budget or money shouldn’t be the top priority questions for you (until and unless a prospect specifically asks for pricing). As a salesperson, you need to show the value of your product and show a clear ROI of a prospect using the product you’re selling. You should always zero in on your prospect’s pain points and engage them in a conversation where they give you as much detail as possible about the issues they are having and things they’ve tried and tested in order to remediate them.
Pro tip: Always make notes in the CRM on the fly, while you’re speaking to prospects. This will help you save a lot of time with data entry and greatly reduces the chance of you forgetting major points later on.
The more information you gather and write down, the more ammunition you will have in the later stages of the sales funnel to use in your follow-up emails. Looking for a guide on how to write killer follow-up emails? Have a look at this: Follow-up email guide.
What exactly is a Qualified Lead?
A qualified lead is someone that fits the ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) of the company. Moreover, they have a need that can be solved by your offering.
Very often, you will speak to prospects that don’t fit your ICP or don’t have a need for your product, those leads are unqualified leads. It’s best to remove them from your pipeline and focus your time on qualified leads.
What to focus on while qualifying leads?
Need, need and need. Can’t state that enough times. You have to identify the needs and pain points of the prospect. What pain point are they looking to solve? Have they tried solving it in the past? If so, how? and what methods are they currently using?
These are some of the very basic and important questions you should be asking your prospects. Avoid, if you can, strategies like BANT, which is a one script fit all. Imagine talking to someone, and they know exactly what you’re going to be asking and you also have to stick to a script. It will fee un-natural, right?
I always recommend talking to your prospects in a friendly and open manner, you are there strictly in the capacity of a guide, to help them. Help them solve their problems and to determine if indeed there is a mutual fit.
Next up, focus on who exactly needs to be involved in the conversation. Often times, you will speak to the person doing the preliminary research and gauging different tools in the market. While you qualify them, give them a demo, create a deal and turns out now they want you to give a demo to the rest of the team. You do that, then a back and forth of questions, perhaps now the team wants to try the tool as well. There go another 14 days on the free trial and so and so forth the sales cycle keeps on increasing.
It’s incredibly frustrating and easily solvable. If a prospect has a definitive need and they indeed are serious about resolving it, I don’t see a reason why they wouldn’t involve all parties that will be using or might use the tool.
It’s enough to just ask. Perhaps, the demo might be delayed a few days, while everyone finds a suitable time that works them. But, that beats the back and forth and several demos being given to the same company.
But, wait! Isn’t the budget question important?
The age-old question, should I ask my prospects about their budget. Well, if you have pricing on your website and they don’t specifically ask for the pricing, I don’t see a reason why you should.
Here’s why. Anyone who comes to you with a budget is buying on price first, and quality second. Anyone who comes to you without a budget predefined is coming to explore your quality first to try to get the budget approved second. I don’t know you but I’d rather talk to those without a budget.
Once your prospects indeed see that your tool is a good fit for them and they are satisfied with it, they will carve out a budget for it somehow. They will champion your product in their company. Think about it, have you ever tested a tool and really liked it and pushed your manager to buy ASAP?
Well, that’s what you need to do. It’s your job to show the prospect why they need you, why they need you sooner rather than later, and why whatever you cost, is cheap compared to the cost of not having you.
Once you make those points, the budget should come in easy. Hence, I wouldn’t get hung up on the budget question, definitely, not on the first qualification call.
Sales Qualification is an ongoing process, you can’t qualify the prospect once and just stop there. On every interaction, make sure if they are still on board, if they have any questions regarding the product, perhaps they are looking at another vendor?
It’s always better to ask rather than letting the suspense of the unknown kill you. Constantly qualifying also helps you to adopt a more proactive approach to sales, rather than reactive. It helps you stay on top of the prospects and your chances of converting them into a paying customer rise exponentially.
If you can, use scheduling software like calendly. It will save you a ton of back and forth, while you and the prospect agree on a time that works for the demo or a phone call. It’s automatic and sends the instructions to join the call, it’s a must-have for any salesperson.
Lastly, always try to talk to your prospects on the phone. Email is fine occasionally, however, I wouldn’t make a habit out of qualifying prospects over email.
There is a lot more freedom while you’re conversing over the phone and can ask various different questions, perhaps even can jump into the demos at the same time.
Always set aside at least 15 mins for each sales qualification call, chances are some people might ask you to give them a demo right away (happened to me several times). Which is great, because most of the people I speak to, if they want a demo right away, it’s a good sign since they end up purchasing a subscription super fast.
So, always try and save a 15 min slot, should a need for a demo arise, you can always jump on the demo right away and give them a short presentation.
Hope this blog post helps you qualify prospects better and helps you succeed in sales. Remember, be consistent and keep at it. Good luck!