Marsue Sams is a Sales Growth Specialist with Braveheart.  She is a passionate sales strategist and coach with over 20 years of award-winning corporate sales and sales leadership experience.  Marsue has written multiple sales guides and motivational sales programs for a wide variety of organizations during her time in corporate America and has spoken at national and regional user-group meetings.

hot-leadsI have seen many sales people fall into the habit of believing that anyone who requests information about your product or service is ready to buy. This is a dangerous mindset and a huge time and resource waster.  Learning how to properly qualify a lead can be the difference between gaining profitable new business and wasting lots of energy, time and money

So, what is a qualified lead anyway?  Essentially – it’s anyone who has a need for your offerings; has a budget to buy that offering; has the ability to sign off on a sale: and will do so in a short period of time.

Closing sales and growing a business isn’t about selling to everyone; it’s about selling to everyone who is a “qualified” prospect. Successful sales professionals don’t sell, they help their customers buy.  Maintaining control of the sales conversation and asking the right questions can quickly weed out prospects that are just mildly curious, not truly serious, have no money or have no authority at all. It’s up to you to find out and the sooner you do the better before wasting valuable time and resources.

Qualifying is a slam dunk when you know these things about every prospect:

A need – A qualified prospect needs your product or service now or relatively soon. It’s up to you to ask questions relevant to that need, uncover their pains, problems and issues around fixing that need and find out if they’re serious or curious. Serious people are ready to fix their problems. Curious people enjoy talking about their problems with no intention of fixing them. Try asking these questions:

  • What are you finding most challenging right now?
  • Is this a problem that both you and the business feel is worth solving?
  • What are the possible implications, both to you and to the business, of not finding and implementing the right solution?

A budget.  A qualified prospect has the money to buy your product or service. Don’t waste time pursuing someone who truly can’t afford to buy what you sell. If they only have $500 to fix a $5,000 problem, you must walk away. It’s not a fit. Suggest other options but pursuing this type of sale wastes your time, money and energy.  Try asking these questions:

  • Do you have the budget to allocate to your solution if something worthwhile is presented?
  • Are you on a calendar or fiscal budget year?
  • When do you start planning your budget?
  • Where will the budgeted money for a purchase like this come from?

The authority to buy and an understanding of the decision process. A qualified prospect is empowered and prepared to take action. They don’t have to go to anyone else for approval and they have the authority to sign on the dotted line.  Try asking these questions:

  • Provided I show you enough value in using our service or product, how do you typically make the final decision to make these types of purchases?
  • Who else needs to be involved in making a purchasing decision with regards to this product or service?
  • Is there a committee that needs to approve the decision?   Who is on that committee?

Timeframe  A qualified prospect knows when the decision to buy will be made and when they want to sign your agreement.  Try asking these question:time-to-act

  • How quickly do you want or need to address this issue?
  • What’s the urgency to act now or what kind of deadlines are you working with to solve this problem?
  • What makes you want to address these challenges now?
  • How long will the approval process take?
  • What is your buying process?

Qualifying prospects properly up front helps you use your time and resources wisely. When you ask great questions to find qualified buyers, you avoid wasting time, energy and money on people who were never going to buy in the first place.  And when you work with truly qualified and serious prospects, you’ll feel more satisfied, and you’ll close more sales.

If you are struggling with sales and/or keep running into the same obstacles and issues, reach out and schedule a call with me.   You never know…it could change your sales results and bottom line.