Finding suspects is not difficult.
Finding prospects who really want your products or services though can be very hard.
Today, in B2B sales you can’t afford to waste time with opportunities that do not have a great potential to deliver results. And your clients and prospective clients do not want the deal with suppliers who waste their time.
In sales, like in any other area of your business, you need to be working to minimise waste and add value. And the greatest waste is time spent of opportunities that provide little or no real potential. These add no value to your business or the prospects. Prospects get motivated to work with you when you help them to discover that you can solve their problem better than anyone else.
The challenge for every business is to have a sound qualification process.
Qualify fast….qualify early!!
Qualifying your opportunities early in the sales cycle helps you focus on business you can win and not waste your time chasing opportunities you can’t, or are very unlikely to win.
Qualified opportunities are those that have been screened for their level of interest in what you offer; people you or your sales team has a good chance of closing a sale with – they’re prospects.
Successful salespeople develop techniques to check out enquiries to determine whether the buyer is serious or ‘just looking’ – they develop a series of careful questions that qualify the prospect ‘IN’ or ‘OUT’. The nature of the questions may vary from business to business and one individual to another, but they all need to answer the same basic question – “Is this opportunity real, or am I just wasting my time?”
The questions should give you an idea of the prospect’s ‘sales readiness’and as well as determining how much effort you are going to put into this lead as it can also influence your approach.
There are many ways to qualify prospects, but the simpler you keep your process, the more likely you are to adopt it, and for you to be able to systemize it with your staff.
For any enquiry you need a quick and reliable test to be sure you are going after the right opportunities and you need to know now!
You can use this quick Litmus Test – 8 simple questionsthat are ranked to give you a final score that indicates the reality of then opportunity.
First, start by creating a scoring system for your questions. The following works well:
- Very Weak
- Very Strong
Will your lead pass the Litmus Test?
Score each question and then add up the total at the end to see if you have a real opportunity or just a ‘tyre-kicker’. Not all leads are opportunities and not all opportunities can be won. The Litmus Test helps you filter out the good leads from the bad. Thoise to drop, those to chase and those you might want to ‘park for later’
- Has the prospect got a need?
Is there a need for the products and services you are selling? Does the prospect have a problem you can solve? Does your product/service/solution help them generate more business? Do you understand their need?
If in doubt, check it out. If the prospect is serious, they will share information with you that will help you deliver the best solution. If they don’t, that’s the first ‘red flag’.
Remember, your business is unique; your products have different benefits, your business a different competitive advantage. You have your own strengths (and weaknesses) and way of packaging a solution. Make sure they understand this and that it is what they want.
It’s quite easy to assign a score to this by understanding how much pain they are in and what are the consequences of not solving it. Or conversely, the increased sales or profit your solution might create.
- Is there a compelling event?
What is driving the customer to make a decision or a change in the current situation? What is the payback if they make a change? What are the consequences if they do not act? If there is no compelling event, the urgency to make a decision can delay the sales process and waste your time.
- When do they need it?
What specific date is associated with the compelling event? What is their timing? When does the problem have to be solved? When does the target need to be met? If it isn’t urgent then are they really looking for a solution now? If there is no urgency, treat the opportunity as ‘suspect’, keep in touch for when they may be ready, but don’t waste time that could be better spent.
- Do you know the prospects decision-making process?
If you don’t know who and how the decisions are made within the prospects business, if you are not dealing with the right people, this will score low. If you cannot get to the right people, it’s a strong indication you will struggle to close the deal – it’s a low score.
- Is there future opportunity with this prospect?
Is there a strategic reason or long-term gain for winning this business? If you win this business what other opportunities might you be able to uncover? Does this company have affiliates or contacts that may be useful in the future? Is it part of a larger organisation that, if you do well here, might lead to greater opportunities? You don’t want to spend a lot of time and expense on a small deal at low margin if you can’t see any way to sell something else in the future.
- Can they afford you?
The prospect may have a need, may be the right person, and may even be willing, but without the money, your sale won’t happen. Determine that the prospect has the necessary budget for your service. They may not tell you their budget but you can usually get an indication and also get confirmation that a clear budget has been approved.
- Can you support them?
Depending on the type of product or service you are selling, this can be a non- issue or critical. You need to be able to service the sale. Is this done remotely (internet or phone) or do you need to do it personally? And it’s not just location. Do you speak their language? How you provide follow-up service can make or break your business, especially in today’s world of social media. Be realistic.
- Have they got the skills to use it?
This is often overlooked, but is very important. Have they got the right skills and sponsorship to implement your solution? You want them to implement your solution and be a great reference.
How did you score?
If you used the suggested scoring you will have a result from 0 to 40.
· Drop It (Score 0 to 12)
If you scored less than 12 forget it. It’s hard to say ‘NO’ but don’t waste your time. Spend the time on the opportunities you can win and not those you can’t. A prospect list is just a sales funnel and not everything can go through. So don’t try to force poor leads into opportunities – let go early!
You must give your time to the few that will return rewards, not the many that will waste your time.
· Gather More Information (Score 12 to 30)
In between you need to ask a few more probing questions before you decide.
· Chase (Score 30 plus)
If you scored more than 30 the opportunity is well qualified and deserves your time.
But even is you scored above 30 and had a low score several questions, you need discover more information on those areas.
With your opportunity qualified in or out, put together a sales plan to target the business. If it is real, commit the necessary resources to win the deal. Make sure you understand what the prospect sees as value and work to deliver this.
By working on less opportunities and adding more value, you will win more business.