One of the most important skills in a salesman’s toolkit is their ability in successfully qualifying a prospect. This qualification determines how likely the prospect is to purchase from you, rather than your competitor.
Successfully qualifying a prospect helps determine our success as sales professionals. It quickly determines if the relationship should continue, and if so, what next steps are appropriate.
Levels in Qualifying a Prospect?
A discovery call is where you might do the bulk of your qualification, but it certainly is not where qualification starts or ends. At every step of the sales process, you should be continuously qualifying prospects for more and more specific buying signals.
Research indicates that prospects can be qualified on three levels:
- Organization-level. This is the most basic level of qualification, similar to an Ideal Customer Profile definition. (Hyperlink to article)
- Opportunity-level. This determines whether your prospect has a specific need or challenge you can satisfy. Also, whether it’s feasible for them to implement your particular product or service rather than your competitors.
- Stakeholder-level. This relates to whether your point of contact actually has the authority to either influence or pull the trigger on a purchase decision.
Asking the right questions
Below are some ideas of questions that can help in qualifying a prospect to determine the deal makers from the time wasters.
1) “How have you attempted to overcome this challenge in the past?”
If you always do what you always have done you will always get what you have always got. (Henry Ford (1863-1947)
Prospects often exhaust internal or moderate measures before looking externally for help. If the buyer’s problem is relatively serious, they should be able to describe at least one tried strategy.
Follow up this question with, “What were the results?”. The answer will tell you how pressing the issue is.
2) “Why is this a priority right now?”
What timeline is the client working towards and are there any cliff edge moments or events that may influence the decision.
3) “Change isn’t easy. How committed are you to revamping your [business area] strategy?”
Driving change within an organisation requires commitment, time, and effort. It will help you differentiate a buyer who is unsure if they are ready to take the plunge from a buyer who’s fully bought in.
4) “Here’s what it takes for a customer to be successful with our solution. Is this something you’re ready to commit to?”
For many solutions, the real work does not begin until after the buyer has purchased.
Just as you are qualifying a prospect for a sale, you should also qualify for commitment. This question will eliminate buyers who are not truly dedicated to solving their business pain.
5) “Who else will be involved in making this decision? Do they know we’re speaking?”
Often the purchasing decision is not determined by the buyer, rather by the person writing the cheque. Determining the decision-making process is key to maintaining control of the buying / selling process.
These key qualification questions should be used to focus on deal makers and help eliminate the time wasters.
Supporting good qualification questions is the ability to apply a qualification framework. A qualification framework is essentially a rubric that salespeople can use in qualifying a prospect. Every customer and every sale is different, but all closed-won deals share commonalities. Sales qualification frameworks distil those shared characteristics into general traits reps can look for when qualifying.
One of the most common frameworks is the BANT Framework.
BANT Qualification Framework
BANT seeks to uncover the following four pieces of information:
Budget: Is the prospect capable of buying?
Authority: Does your contact have adequate authority to sign off on a purchase?
Need: Does the prospect have a business pain you can solve?
Timeline: When is the prospect planning to buy?
How can CRM help when qualifying a prospect?
What a CRM system offers is transparency on the success rate of sales opportunities. This includes two key indicators, conversion rate and conversion timelines.
A CRM system allows management to monitor lost and abandoned opportunities enabling educated business decisions to be taken. Are opportunities being lost because they are poorly qualified?
ProAptivity are an independent CRM solutions provider. We focus on the implementation, training, and support of highly customised CRM software solutions. Our CRM software supported by our sales training provide customers with the tools needed to deliver successful sales process management.
Fundamentally, we help organisations embed CRM best practice throughout their organisation.
If you need help in understanding why my business needs CRM, maybe some of our eBooks could help! Alternatively visit Maximizer CRM or Pipedrive CRM for more information. Contact us today on 028 9099 6388 or via firstname.lastname@example.org. We can help you assess if your business is CRM ready.