If only we know which deals would close. As salespeople we often wish we had a crystal ball – so we’d know where to focus our energies and efforts. It’s incredibly frustrating when the deals we are working on don’t progress – or fade away into nothing.
Qualification is perhaps one of the greatest skills you can develop if you are serious about your sales pipeline. Qualifying means asking the hard questions, AND being prepared to listen to the answers. This will help you sort the deals that will progress and close from those that won’t, but can still suck up all your time and energy!
Let’s take the example of a good friend of mine, who was selling solutions to medium sized companies to help manage their expense payments.
Upfront, there were some pre-qualification things he would always want to know. For example that their business was financially viable and that it was the right size and shape for him to do work with. For the expense management solutions he targeted companies with between 50 and 250 employees. Any bigger and they wouldn’t consider doing business with him. Any smaller and they simply didn’t have a big enough problem to warrant his solution.
He also needed to know that they had the potential to buy from him, so he qualified out any that had already outsourced their expense processing to a third party and also foreign-owned companies where their decision making for solutions of this type was handled elsewhere. He just didn’t have the capacity to deal with those things.
Here are the top 10 questions to qualify opportunities, through his lens of selling expense management services:
1. Is expense management (or project/pain area X) an area that you are involved in/responsible for?
He wanted to confirm that he was speaking to one of the right people. If not he would ask them who the best person was (after asking them a couple of questions which could still help to understand the situation better.)
2. Is expense management a recognised problem or pain area for the organisation?
If there isn’t a problem, pain or project, there isn’t an opportunity. You have to create one which is the hardest sell of all and not one he was prepared to tackle. The best you have is a relevant contact that you can add to your lead nurture list but not a sales opportunity for your pipeline.