Tips on How and When to Ask Qualifying Questions

Effectively qualifying leads is an essential and critical aspect of building a solid, opportunity filled pipeline. As you know, there are 3 key qualifiers you must identify:

  • Does the prospect have a need and an interest in your products or services?
  • Does the prospect have the budget to pay for your products or services?
  • Does the prospect have the authority to make the final decision?

How convenient would it be if you could just come right out and ask these questions during your first conversation? It would be easy enough to justify too; you’d be saving both yourself and your prospect time and money. Combine that thought with the drive and desire to close the deal and it’s easy to see how a sales person might lose focus, abandon their own process and end up asking key questions at the wrong time, or avoiding them altogether.

It is possible to ask and get answers to your questions in a timely manner without them sounding like they’re coming out of left field. For example:

  • If you’ve done your research and prepared for your initial meeting, you’ll be able to engage your prospect in a conversation where discussing relevant business drivers and issues are both comfortable and in context. As the credibility of your content becomes apparent, they are likely to explain a process or two that they leverage to solve problems and advance their agenda. This provides you with an opportunity to gauge their interest in using your products and services as options that can help them move forward with their business goals.
  • Asking “what is your budget” as a stand-alone question can be awkward. However, integrating it into a conversation about the prospect’s view of risk and ROI will make your question both relevant and logical.
  • When and how you ask the prospect if they are the final decision maker is crucial to the conversation, but it can also be problematic. One way to compose the question is: “When your company buys products (processes or services) like the ones I represent, how do you typically go about making your final decision and who gets involved?” The answer to this question should clarify if the person you are speaking with is another part of the process, or the person with the power to make the decision.

Getting answers to your key qualifying questions may sometimes feel a bit awkward, but they will become just another part of your process when you take the time to figure out how to give them context and integrate them into the flow of your business conversation. Do this and your prospect will have another reason to respect you, your knowledge, your credibility, and the value of what you bring to the table.

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