The importance of Sales Qualification (part 1)

This feature is designed to stimulate thought and offer practical advice on best practice. This article focuses on getting the best business result for the money you spend in your sales and marketing functions.

Central to Sales & Marketing effectiveness is the appropriate targeting of resources.

  • Who is your ideal customer?
  • How can you reach them?
  • And when you identify a prospect customer: how should you proceed?

Qualification qualifies

It’s a great interview question for any prospective sales person:

  • ‘What is sales qualification?’ – or
  • ‘What does qualification mean to you?’

Candidates will suggest that qualification is ‘the process by which they determine how likely they are to write business with a given customer’. They will explain that they qualify, and continue to qualify, a deal rigorously from first customer engagement to the close. Qualification should also enable you to make the decision on when to walk away from an opportunity – to ‘qualify out’ and spend their time more productively elsewhere.

Most sales people are able to quantify budget and identify the key decision maker. Maybe they’ll suggest that timescale is important, and some will talk about a ‘compelling event’.

Some will mention SPIN (Situation, Problem, Implication, Need) or Target Account Selling or Bluesheet (actually sales methodologies rather than just qualification tools). Some may talk about SCOTSMAN (Solution, Competition, Originality, Timescales, Size, Money, Authority, Need) or POSTMAN or SALESCOACH or any one of several acronyms which help sales people to remember the key elements of qualification.

Qualification in your organisation

You can certainly debate the merits of one qualification acronym over another. In practice the adoption and enforcement of a consistent qualification approach is more important than trying to determine which is best.

Qualification helps us to discover what we don’t yet know about an opportunity and should inform our action plan for it. It shows us where best to spend our time and helps to answer some of the key upfront questions:

  • Can we win?
  • Is the customer likely to buy – from us or anyone else?
  • Will the cost of sale outweigh the value of the deal?
  • How well do we address the customer’s need compared with our competitors?
  • How is our proposal viewed by those with influence over the decision?

And only by having a clear and consistent approach to qualification can we hope to accurately predict when – and if – we are likely to close business. Accurate forecasting is only possible with robust qualification

ProAptivity specialise in the deployment of CRM solutions into small and medium size businesses. They are the Northern Ireland solutions partner for Maximizer CRM which offers both on-premise and on demand solutions with full Mobile CRM capabilities. For more information contact 028 90735630


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