The 5 Characteristics of a Qualified Prospect

The 5 Characteristics of a Qualified Prospect Your Salespeople Should Be Checking For | The Brooks Group

One of the challenges we hear come up over and over again with sales professionals is time management. There are only so many hours in a day to get everything done, so your salespeople have no room for wasting time.

What’s the number one way your sales reps can start using their time more efficiently? Getting hyper-focused on the characteristics of a qualified buyer.

Understanding the characteristics of a legitimate sales opportunity is a core principle of IMPACT Selling—and for good reason. There are plenty of potential clients out there that will be a perfect fit for your sales team and organization; Talking to anyone other than those highly-qualified leads is time wasted.

Build your lead qualification process around these 5 key characteristics:

#1. Awareness of Need

In order to be truly qualified, a prospect must have a need that they are aware of. They might not know exactly what the solution is—or that your company exists—but a qualified prospect will know they have a problem.

Your salespeople should be asking questions during initial conversations that will reveal if a prospect has a need that they are aware of. (Using an inbound marketing strategy for lead generation will go a long way to check this box as well.)  

#2. Authority and Ability to Buy or Commit

There’s nothing more frustrating than spending time and effort with a contact who is not in the position to make a purchasing decision. No one wants to hear “I’ll have to run it by my manager,” after they’ve spent time preparing and presenting.

Your reps should quickly determine if the person they are dealing with is a decision maker with the authority and budget to buy.

Early conversations should include the following two questions:

  • “Who else, other than you of course, will be involved in the buying decision?”
  • “Could you describe for me the process you will be using to make this decision?”

Once your salesperson has determined if their contact has the authority and ability to buy, they will want to better understand the decision-making process and the structure of the decision-making unit.

#3. Sense of Urgency

Your reps have a target to hit. What they don’t have, is time to spend with prospects who aren’t in a hurry to make a decision.

Coach your salespeople to use open-ended questions to identify if a prospective client has an established timeline.

If they have a need and are aware of it, but are unclear on timing, your salesperson doesn’t have to throw them back out to sea. Have them set a meeting in the future to circle back, or hand the lead back to marketing to continue to nurture until the time is right.

#4. Trust in You and Your Organization

A potential client must trust your salesperson and your organization in order to be fully-qualified. You can download a free Positioning Questionnaire at the bottom of this post to determine how your salespeople are perceived by their contacts.

Developing that trust from the very beginning of the relationship is key, and using a consultative sales process is a great way to do that.

#5. Willingness to Listen

The final characteristic of a qualified prospect is typically the easiest to recognize. Is the buyer willing to listen to what your salesperson has to say?

Have your salespeople keep in mind that lots of people may be willing to listen to them, but if they can’t buy, or don’t want to buy, they are not worth spending precious time on.

BONUS #6: Strategically Aligned with Your Organization

While the above 5 characteristics can be gauged externally by assessing the prospect, the 6th bonus characteristic focuses more internally.

Is there alignment with the buyer relative to the value of your offerings? Can you sell and service the account profitably?

Just because you can sell something to someone, doesn’t always mean that you should. Sales reps should consider the profitability of an account and whether it makes sense for your organization to go after it.


Your sales team’s biggest asset is time. They can get more done in less time if they understand your company’s ideal buyer persona and can quickly evaluate how qualified a prospect is using these characteristics.


Jeb Brooks

As the Chief Culture Officer of The Brooks Group, Jeb Brooks is responsible for the initiatives that create and maintain a strong company culture. Jeb believes fervently that companies don’t grow, people do. The purpose of The Brooks Group is to help team members grow as people and professionals so that they can help clients do the same. Jeb’s work is centered around identifying opportunities for everyone to push their comfort zones and extend beyond their limits.

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