During my career I have noted that most salespeople waste a lot of their time by not properly qualifying their sales prospects. How does one separate suspects from prospects? I have found that there are four hurdles you need to ensure that a suspect clears before you spend any significant time with them. The four hurdles are:
- Need. Does the prospect truly need your product? You should ask a few well-chosen questions to ascertain whether the prospect truly needs your product or service. If they don’t really need your product or service, move on. Some prospects just like to chat and will waste your precious time if you let them so be sure to determine that they really need your product or service before you make any further calls on them.
- Authority. There is nothing worse than spending a lot of time on a prospect only to find that the person you have been romancing doesn’t have the authority to make the purchase. You have to be careful about how you determine whether the person you are calling on has the authority to make the purchase because you don’t want to make him an enemy. I have found that asking, “Will anyone else be involved in making the purchasing decision? If so, can we invite him to sit in with us?” works most of the time.
- Timeframe. When talking with a prospect ask probing questions that will tell you if the prospect’s timeframe for making purchase is now. If not find out when the purchase will be made and follow-up closer to that date.
- Ability to pay. It always amazes me that salespeople will spend time calling on a suspect without checking with their company’s credit department to see if the potential prospect has acceptable credit. It’s extremely frustrating to salespeople (and sales managers) to spend weeks or even months trying to get a sale only to have the credit department shoot it down. Don’t waste your time calling on suspects until you have found out that your credit department will allow you to accept an order from them.
Time is the most precious commodity for all salespeople but my experience has been that most salespeople end up wasting a lot of time by not ensuring that their suspects have cleared the above four hurdles. If you aren’t already ensuring that your suspects can clear the hurdles noted above try doing this and let me know your results. I bet you that your sales will pick up significantly.
Copyright 2012 by Jim Sobeck. All rights reserved. This information may be reproduced as long as full credit is given to the author.