Are You Qualifying Your Business Prospects?

October 19, 2017

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every business prospect turned into a profitable sale? Business would be so much easier and profits would most likely soar but in the real world of business, this doesn’t happen. The more a business can qualify prospects…regardless of the type of business…the better the chances are that the sales efforts will prove successful.

Typical Sales Cycle

Depending on the type of business, the typical sales process will be either (1) active prospecting and appointment setting by a sales representative or (2) having a prospect contact the business usually inquiring about additional information needed. After this stage, the process becomes very similar:

•    Introduction
•    Information gathering
•    Discussion of products or services, benefits derived, and problem solutions
•    Possible product demonstration
•    Sale closing
•    Delivery and/or implementation of products or services

Potential customers must be able to see value in what they are purchasing. After a quick introduction to establish rapport, information must be gathered, so the owner or company sales representative can immediately create interest from the prospect by developing a value match.

Qualifying a Prospect

Some prospects are immediately aware that they have a pressing problem to be solved and can understand how a business’ products or services can benefit them. Other prospects will recognize that current issues exist but still cannot see a value for them in purchasing what a business has to offer. Obviously, qualifying a prospect will be the result of determining which category the prospect falls into. 

Probing questions must be asked, so benefits and solutions can be matched to a prospect’s desires and problems. While many business owners and sales representatives love to talk about their products or services, a sale will never take place if a value match does not occur. Asking the right questions and listening to answers that will elicit valuable information about a prospect’s needs is more important than touting a product or service that might not the right match for a prospect.

Introduction is Important

An effective introduction creates a positive tone right from the beginning of the conversation. It should be a quick highlighting of the company and its products or services. The owner or sales rep should project an image of being competent, credible, interested, and focused on providing the right product or service to meet the needs of the prospect.

Anything that is known about the prospect and mentioned during the introduction phase can help establish rapport and lessen anxieties leading to a more relaxed atmosphere. Showing understanding and relating similar situations can be an “ice breaker.”

Reducing Anxieties

Some buyers have no anxiety when it comes to purchasing. Others, however, are apprehensive about the process and what the eventual outcome will be if they make a purchase. Even if they do not verbalize their anxieties, they are thinking:

•    What happens if I purchase or don’t purchase this product or service?
•    How does the purchase affect me?
•    What will it cost me to purchase this product or service?
•    Should I look at alternatives to purchasing this product or service?

Addressing these issues upfront and phrasing questions can help alleviate stress the prospect might be experiencing. When questions are asked, answers should also be readily available to counteract anxieties and resistance. 

Closing the Sale

Prospects need a reason to purchase. They are meeting with a sales representative, called a business, or walked into a business with the sole reason to determine if they should purchase a product or service from this business or another business. When logical reasons for purchase are presented and the prospect is qualified (he or she understands the value match between their needs and what the product or service offers), then it is time to close the sale. 

Although many prospects will hesitate with one delay tactic or another, a closing technique is to agree with the prospect (“I understand your concern, etc.”) but to then clarify exactly what they are looking for in a product or service, and how your company’s product or service meets their needs. “What is it that you need to think over?” Find out their thoughts and zero in again on how a particular product or service is just what the prospect is looking for. Now, the prospect should be ready to close.