Qualifying Sales Opportunity – Be Prepared to Say “Next”

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Not only does effectively qualifying sales opportunity make sound business sense it also makes you feel terrific!

Qualifying deals puts you in control. And when you’re in control you are focused, decisive and you feel strong. Effectively qualifying deals has a powerful positive effect on your mindset and performance.

Here are 5 Major Benefits to Consistently Qualifying Sales Opportunity:

  1. Demonstrates that you are strategic, business savvy and on top of your game
  2. When you are effectively qualifying your deals, along with consistent prospecting, your pipeline is real and you are guaranteed to hit your number
  3. Enables you to invest your time and resources in deals where you stand a much better chance of winning
  4. Increases your closing ratio and your income
  5. Earns the respect of upper management. (Sales Managers, VPs, Presidents, CEOs and Owners have the utmost respect for any Rep that consistently puts qualified deals in their pipeline!)

It’s all about the questions:

I’m sure you realize that the primary driver in effectively qualifying deals is the questions you ask.

It’s paramount that you gain a clear understanding of where you stand with each sales opportunity.

However, my observation has been that the vast majority of Sales Representatives are not comfortable asking the number of questions and the quality of questions that are necessary to really understand the prospect’s intent and what their compelling reasons are to make a change.

You need to know specifically what is motivating the prospect and where you stand!

Often Sales Representatives are afraid the prospect will become irritated and upset with all the questions. It’s common for Sales Representative’s to feel they don’t have the right to ask prospects the questions that will move the conversation beyond the surface level.

This uncomfortableness stems from insecurity and a lack of belief. When a Salesperson does not recognize that they’re in a position to bring significant value to the table, when they feel their role as Salesperson places them beneath the prospect, when they are not prepared, they feel uncomfortable asking the volume of probing questions that is necessary to identify if a sales opportunity is real or a waste of everyone’s time.

Here’s a Short List of Questions to Get Your Juices Flowing:

  • How does your company typically make this type of a decision and who will be involved?
  • Will the money come out of your budget?
  • Have the funds been put aside for this project?
  • What is your time frame for making a decision and why is that date important?
  • Who is my competition?
  • What criteria must the chosen supplier meet?
  • What are the short and long term consequences if you don’t fix this problem?
  • What actions have you already taken to fix this problem? What happened?
  • What benefits will you realize if you take advantage of this business opportunity?

Red Flags:

The term “breathing real air” has always elicited an effective reminder in my mind.

It reminds me that in selling it’s very common for us to take an overly “optimistic” view of a prospect or particular deal by not paying attention to red flags. (One of my mentors used to tell me it’s not as much an optimistic view as it is being desperate because I didn’t have a full pipeline of qualified deals. As usual, he was right.)

Here’s a Short List of Red Flags to be Aware of:

  • Not returning your calls or responding to your emails in a timely fashion
  • Not being given the information you have requested
  • Not giving you access to other contacts within the organization
  • Inconsistency in their statements, answers and actions
  • Doesn’t know the answers to your questions
  • Doesn’t have the authority to make a decision

Selling is Interesting:

On one hand many Americans look down on the profession of selling. On the other hand nothing happens in the world unless a sale is made. (It’s true, take a few minutes and think about it!)

Many people don’t view selling as a “profession”. Yet top producers are right up there with Doctors, Attorneys and CEOs when it comes to personal earnings.

My wish for you is that you will have pride in your work and the value that you deliver. I hope you will hold your time and expertise in high regard, and take the time necessary to ask all the questions you need to ensure you are crystal clear on where you stand and what you need to do to win the business.

You could argue this is more a game of “disqualification” than “qualification”.

Have the courage to say “NEXT”.

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