16 Aug Sales People- Remember – Qualify in and Qualify out – Sales Confidence
As a salesperson, your best resource is also your biggest obstacle. I’m talking about time.
Time is the one resource you can’t make more of, the one resource you can’t get back. When it’s gone, it’s gone.
If you’re going to maximise your revenues, and achieve the goals you’re setting for yourself, it’s important that you use your time wisely. No, this isn’t an article about scheduling or keeping meetings short, I’ve done one of those already.
I’m talking about not wasting time dealing with prospects who are never going to buy from you. If you’re wasting time every month courting a client who isn’t buying, then I’m afraid the blame lies with you, and your qualification process.
Imagine if you could develop a system where you know everyone you speak to is going to buy. How do you think it would affect your position in your team, and your pay packet?
With a bit of realism and ruthlessness, it’s possible. Let’s go back to the first day of sales school and talk about qualifying.
When you first call a lead with a view to selling your product or service, it’s essential that you qualify them properly.
We’ve all been there. The chances are, that you are a nice, generally decent human being. It’s also likely that the prospect will be a nice person too. You’ll get along well and build rapport. You’ll tell them what you can offer them and how it will help you. They’ll make encouraging noises. You’ll put the phone down with a big smile on your face and put them on your potential list. After all, they need what you’re selling, and they didn’t tell you to go away. Then you’ll send them a proposal, and call them once or twice a week for the foreseeable future, but never do the deal.
The reason this has happened is that you didn’t ask the right questions. You probably asked what their business needs were, whether they could benefit from what you’re offering. What you didn’t do is find out if they are able to prove that they are likely to do a deal with you.
Here are some key questions to ask at the qualifying in stage.
Are you the decision maker?Do you have access to the budget?Do you agree and commit to the timeline for the sales process?What could prevent this deal from going ahead?What are your concerns with the product/service?
There are many others you can ask, but all of the above can determine whether or not the prospect is likely to buy from you? Be strict on getting positive answers to these questions. Get commitments in writing if you can. Get this part right, and you won’t waste your time.
If you’re qualifying in correctly, you may never need to qualify out, but hey, let’s cover it anyway.
Qualifying out is about assessing your list of prospects to see who is worthy of your time and effort. It’s the part when you stop dreaming and start being realistic. If you have that nagging feeling in the back of your mind that the prospect is never going to buy from you within a realistic timeframe, it’s time to stop wasting time on them.
Here are some questions you must ask yourself when you’re qualifying out prospects.
Do they pick up the phone when you call them, or are they avoiding you?Have the decision makers got skin in the game?What are the consequences for their business if they don’t buy from you?Have they specified a time when they are going to make a decision?Could my time with this prospect be better spent?
Use strict, measurable criteria to assess whether you need to cut ties with these prospects. Remember also that situations change. Just because a deal looked likely yesterday, it may not be as likely today.
An overlooked skill?
Qualifying out is a fundamental sales skill, but it’s often forgotten about. There are a few reasons why salespeople don’t like qualifying out.
There’s always the nagging doubt. ‘What if I just call them one more time? This call could be the time they buy.’ Sure it could, but if you use strict, measurable criteria when you’re qualifying out, you’ll know for sure.
There’s also the thought that you’ve spent so much time on a prospect already, you can’t face letting it go. You’re like a gambler chasing your losses at the casino. You need to draw a line under things, walk away.
Finally, no one likes admitting they were wrong, especially salespeople. Qualifying out a prospect is like admitting you’ve failed. However, this can be avoided by qualifying in better, or qualifying out earlier.
We all make mistakes. Be confident enough to walk away from a bad prospect, and move on to something that will be more profitable. Only work with people who have proved themselves worthy. Your time is too precious.
Over to you now. What are your favourite qualifying questions? How do you move prospects from time-wasters to buyers? Leave us a comment to let us know.