One of my clients called me frustrated about the amount of time wasted talking to people who weren’t qualified buyers. I gave her a few ideas and then remembered this article Krista wrote about a conversation she had with a mutual friend of ours Janice Mars. I shared it with her and then thought, why not share with everyone. We all need a reminder about what it takes to talk to qualified prospects.
A Conversation on Qualifying
By Krista Moon
I was recently talking with a friend of mine, Janice Mars, founder of SalesLatitude, a sales consulting firm, about how to forecast and qualify prospects. Salespeople by trade are usually quite optimistic. We’re determined, visionaries, and persistent. That’s what makes us good, but it can also hold us back.
Pursuing prospects takes a lot of time and energy, and going after the wrong people can dramatically inhibit company growth. Janice gave me 3 simple questions that can help you quickly determine whether they are worth your time investment or not. The faster you can qualify prospects, the faster you can fill your pipeline with high-quality sales opportunities.
1. Who is Your Target Niche?
You can’t qualify a prospect if everyone is a prospect. You need to focus on the ideal type of customer that can get maximum value from your product or service. Some basic qualifying criteria might be things like; industry, location, annual revenue, and the number of employees. Taking a targeted approach makes it easier to sell the right stuff to the right people.
Developing your target sounds easy enough, but it can actually be really hard. Check out our Buyer Persona Worksheet – it can help you identify your ideal customer profile.
2. Is There a Need?
Once you have a general idea of your target niche, it’s time to narrow things down even more. Just because someone fits into your general niche criteria doesn’t mean they actually need your service. In our case, for example, if a company in our niche already has a strong online presence, consistent growth, and available resources to do inbound marketing well, then they obviously don’t need our services.
On the flip side, if we come across a company that has an outdated website, no blog or email marketing, and mostly self-promotional social media posts, they have a need for our services.
3. Is It a Priority?
Even if there is a need, it’s not always a priority. This is one of the most important things to remember.
For example, let’s say I come across a company that fits the “need” criteria – they have a marginal website and aren’t really doing much in the way of inbound marketing. However, their business is booming right now and they can barely handle all of the work they’re currently getting. They’re totally swamped, and can’t handle any more with their current setup. In that case, it doesn’t make sense to invest in new growth strategies until they figure out how to scale to the next level. So while there is an opportunity for me to provide services, it’s not what they need right now.
On the flip side, I might get a prospect who has the capacity – and desire – to grow. They want to figure how to get more qualified sales leads and shorten the sales cycle. They fit into the niche, have a need, and it is a priority. Check, check, and check!
Janice said something to me that really hit home for me: “Krista, you’re not the one buying!” So yes, I can find companies all day long that I feel strongly could use our services and get results. But, if it’s not a priority for them for whatever reason, they aren’t a qualified prospect.
Important note: That’s not saying to forget them forever – the timing may just be bad. Put them on the “lead nurturing” list and use inbound marketing strategies to try to further develop the relationship until they’re more ready.
Win Fast, Lose Early
I’ll admit that one of my downfalls is that I don’t give up. If I find a prospect I know I can help, I feel like I should move heaven and earth to try to convince them to work with me. It’s hard to let go of potentially really good customers!
Our time is our most valuable asset. What Janice reinforced to me during our conversation is to qualify quickly and move on.
Thanks to Krista for letting me share this article with you. You can find Krista here.
Do You Need Help?
Are you having trouble quickly qualifying leads? I’d be happy to spend 30 minutes on the phone with you to help you apply the tips in this article or solve any other sales challenge. To schedule, just click this link.