How to Qualify Sales Prospects the Right Way

Qualify Sales Prospects

Chasing unqualified prospects that never close is one of the largest wastes of your sales team’s time and resources.

For this reason, it’s key to equip your salespeople with the ability to quickly assess whether a prospect is truly qualified, and throw them back to sea if not.

Having process in place and a tight lead qualification process will improve your forecasting accuracy, decrease wasted time and resources, and allow your salespeople to focus their attention where it has the greatest impact.

Use these tips to teach your team how to qualify sales prospects the right way.

1. Follow a Formal Sales Process

Sales prospecting should occur within a formal sales process that defines when and how to qualify sales prospects before moving them into the pipeline and onto the next stage.

Make sure your salespeople are equipped with appropriate sales prospecting skills and tools, so they aren’t reliant on one source of lead generation. They should understand that a lead should be qualified before they move on to the following steps of the sales process.

2. Identify Your Ideal Buyer Persona

Make sure your salespeople know exactly what your ideal customer looks like.

You can identify the characteristics of your ideal buyer persona by looking at your current client list and determining who is the best fit for the solutions you offer.

Take into consideration the following:

  • Demographic
  • Industry
  • Size of company
  • Pain points
  • Job role

You may have multiple buyer personas, and that’s ok. Just try to keep it to a few (and get as detailed as possible) so your salespeople can easily target prospects and recognize those who may not be a great fit. 

Not every qualified prospect will match your ideal customer profile 100%, but they should all meet basic criteria you define in advance.

3. Eliminate Unqualified Leads Quickly

Unnecessary time spent with unqualified leads is simply money thrown in the trash can. Train your sales reps to ask open-ended questions that quickly eliminate bad leads before excess time is invested in them.

Then train them to let them go and move on to the next prospect.

4. Know the Six Characteristics of a Qualified Lead

A qualified lead will match your internally defined criteria, and should also exhibit these six characteristics:

  1. Awareness of Need. Your qualified prospect may not know about your solution, but they should be aware that they have a problem.
  2. Authority and Ability to Buy or Commit. Before you invest time and energy in a prospect, make sure you’ve reached a decision-maker who can take action or influence the decision-making process.
  3. A Sense of Urgency. A prospect without a timeline is a prospect who will waste time–if they don’t already feel a sense of urgency, teach your salespeople to create it.
  4. Trust. A hesitant prospect is likely to drag their feet and delay the purchasing decision. Teach your salespeople to develop trust from the very beginning, and to maintain it throughout the sales process.
  5. Willingness to Listen. The prospect should be open to hearing what your salesperson has to say and engaging in a two-way communication about potential solutions.
  6. Strategic Alignment. Just because you can sell to someone, doesn’t always mean you should. Consider alignment with the buyer relative to the value of your offerings to determine whether you can sell and service the account profitably.

BONUS TIP: Treat Qualification as an Ongoing Process

Qualifying leads before they enter the pipeline to become opportunities is critical for reducing wasted time and increasing forecast accuracy. But don’t stop there.

Teach your salespeople to use a consultative questioning strategy throughout the sales process to maintain alignment with prospects and confirm they are still qualified and worthy of the investment of time.

The Bottom Line 

Efficiency is everything when it comes to sales success, as time is your team’s most valuable resource. Streamline your team’s daily workflow by training them with a straightforward, six-step sales process.

IMPACT Selling keeps your salespeople organized and on track as they guide prospects through each stage of the buying process. Train your team with a proven system, and set them up to achieve defined results in a consistent and predictable way.

Hear from one of our clients on her organization’s experience with IMPACT Selling

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WRITTEN BY

Lisa Rose

Lisa Rose is a Regional Vice President of Sales at The Brooks Group. Lisa has passion for helping managers develop a unique, motivational sales culture in their organizations. She can drive sales managers who merely put out fires day to day to flourish as visionaries who can motivate their team and generate results for their sales organizations.

Published on September 26, 2019

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