Most sales professionals today are spending much more time prospecting than they ever have before – and it’s not an easy task. According to research, 40% of sales professionals say that prospecting is the most challenging part of the sales process.
The increase in activity required for lead generation means sales professionals need to be more efficient than ever when determining if someone is a qualified prospect. Getting hyper-focused on the characteristics of a qualified prospect, and understanding the characteristics of a legitimate sales opportunity, is at the core of everything we do at The Brooks Group. Our IMPACT sales training program gives sales teams a proven framework to connect with prospects, ask the right questions, and truly understand their business challenges.
Part of this refinement includes making sure sales professionals optimize the time spent on finding the type of client that will be the best fit for your sales team and organization; talking to anyone other than those highly qualified leads is time wasted.
To reduce time spent looking for leads, we recommend building your lead qualification process around characteristics that are often consistent with quality sales prospects.
Build your lead qualification process around these five 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 sales team should be asking questions during initial conversations that will reveal if a prospect has a need that they are aware of. For examples of the best sales prospecting questions to ask, read our Ultimate Guide to Asking Open-Ended Questions on Sales Calls.
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 sellers should quickly be able to qualify sales prospects. Without spending too much time, sales professionals need to be able to determine if the person they are dealing with is a decision-maker with the authority and budget to buy.
Early conversations of the sales process should include the following two questions:
- “Who else, other than you, of course, will be involved in the buying decision?”
- “Could you describe 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. If it is a good sales prospect, getting in contact with the decision-maker of the company should be done early on in the process.
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 they’re further down the sales funnel and ready to commit to your service or product.
Good sales prospects will be hyper-aware of their problem and eager to find a solution. Sales teams should be able to pick up on this urgency early on in the sales process. By recognizing the urgency from the customer, sales reps have a better opportunity to speak to the solution at hand.