#17: Sales qualification

Following on from my past few articles on direct, indirect and other routes to market, it is now time to turn out attention to Sales Qualification, and why this is a key component of the sales process.

Having a Sales Qualification Process is very important. It has a number of purposes:

  1. It will help you to turn strangers in to cash in the bank.
  2. You can profile the clients you want (as opposed to merely accepting those who find you).
  3. You can weed out potential timewasters.
  4. You can weed out bad debts.

The sorts of things you would want to cover in your sales qualification would include:

  • Source of lead or referral – where did the opportunity come from? Is it from a trusted source, who you know would only pass you a qualified opportunity, or is it a less trusted resource that may be passing you a problem?
  • Potential size of transaction – if it’s huge, don’t just rub your hands together with delight; think about whether you can actually deliver or whether you would embarrass yourself if you could not cope. If it’s tiny, don’t decline out of hand; think about whether you are being tested, and if you do a good job will you get something more substantial down the line.
  • Size of company – in days gone by, the larger the company the more likely they would be there to pay you when you finish the work. But the current economic climate has indicated this is not necessarily the case. With smaller businesses you may want to check their ability to pay. There are credit checks you can do by using agencies that have access to the same databases that the banks have; they normally do debt recovery also! This is obviously for business-to-business (B2B). The credit cycle with retail clients is obviously a great deal shorter.
  • Identification of decision maker – nothing is more frustrating than pitching to the wrong person. If you have identified the decision maker – that’s great, go for it. If not, can you positively influence the person who is representing your interests to give a good account of your proposition? Make sure you understand the decision-making process.
  • Identification of budget – find out if your prospect has a budget. If the prospect has not allocated a budget, then how serious are they?
  • Clarity of requirement – are you clear in your mind what the client wants and whether you can deliver it?
  • Urgency of requirement – Is this mission critical for them or not? If it’s not, then if they get busy could it cease to be important?
  • Finally, why are they talking to you? What has prompted them to contact you? Are they serious about getting a quote or are you just there to make up the numbers? If that is the case, you do not want to waste your time if there is no chance to win the business.

If you stop and think for a moment, you can begin to appreciate that, if you follow this process every time, you will have eliminated all the reasons for not wanting to sell to the prospect. Equally, the prospect has eliminated all the reasons for not wanting to buy from you! So, he or she is going to be surprised if you don’t ask for the business – but we’ll come back to that in a future article.

Posted in: Consultancy

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