The convention halls are empty. The restaurants are a dicey proposition right now. And even showing up at the door with a box of donuts is no longer what it used to be.
Indeed, in the era of COVID-19, finding leads has become a decidedly digital affair — and those trade shows, dinners, and drop-in visits are simply no longer your best option.
For most sales pros, this has turned your world upside down — you are likely spending much more time prospecting than you ever thought you would. One study says that today’s sales pro spends at least double the pre-COVID time on sifting through LinkedIn, completed website forms, and other digitally derived leads.
This increased lead generation activity means you need to be more efficient than ever when qualifying buyers. 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 Virtual Selling with IMPACT sales training program offers sales managers and sales teams the chance to refine their prospect-vetting activities from the comfort and safety of the home office.
Part of this refinement includes making sure you’re optimizing your 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.
We recommend you 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 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 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.
SPEAK TO A SALES PERFORMANCE EXPERT ABOUT IMPACT SALES TRAINING TODAY
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 our free Positioning Questionnaire 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 No. 6: Strategic Alignment 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 – an asset that is too valuable to waste on prospects that aren’t well suited for your company, and its products and services. 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.
Interested in helping your sales pros sharpen their skills to meet today’s realities? The Brooks Group has a variety of virtual workshops, sales training programs, and bootcamps that can help get you on the right path, right away! Complete this form and someone will reach out to you.