This blog was originally published last month by Krista Moon, founder of Moon Marketing, based on a recent discussion we had about prospecting and forecasting. We agreed that salespeople by trade are usually quite optimistic – we’re determined, persistent visionaries. Although that makes us good at what we do, it can also hold us back. Read on for three simple yet important qualifying questions to ask when engaging a prospect.
Pursuing prospects takes a lot of time and energy, and going after the wrong people can dramatically inhibit revenues. The faster you can qualify prospects, the faster you can fill your pipeline with high-quality sales opportunities. Here are 3 qualifying questions that can help you quickly determine whether or not they are worth your time.
You can’t qualify a prospect if everyone is a prospect. You need to focus on the ideal type of customer that can get maximum value from your product or service. Some basic qualifying criteria might be things like: industry, location, annual revenue and number of employees. Taking a more targeted approach makes it easier to sell the right stuff to the right people.
Developing your target sounds easy enough, but it can actually be really hard. Check out Moon Marketing’s Buyer Persona Worksheet to help you identify and profile your ideal customer.
Once you have a general idea of your target niche, it’s time to narrow things down even more. Just because someone fits into your general niche criteria doesn’t mean they actually need your service. In our case, for example, if a company in our niche already has a strong online presence, consistent growth, and available resources to do inbound marketing well, then they obviously don’t need our services.
On the flip side, if we come across a company that has a dated website, no blog or email marketing, and mostly self-promotional social media posts, then they have a need for our services.
Even if there is a need, it’s not always a priority. This is one of the most important things to remember.
For example, let’s say I come across a company that fits the “need” criteria – they have a marginal website and aren’t really doing much in the way of inbound marketing. However, their business is booming right now and they can barely handle their current workload. They’re totally swamped and their current set-up is maxed out. In that case, it doesn’t make sense to invest in new growth strategies until they figure out how to scale to the next level. So while there is opportunity for me to provide services, it’s not what they need right now.
On the other hand, I might get a prospect who has the capacity – and desire – to grow. They want to figure how to get more qualified sales leads and shorten the sales cycle. They fit into the niche, have a need, and it is a priority. Check, check and check!
Janice said something to me that really hit home for me: “Krista, you’re not the one buying!” So yes, I can find companies all day long that I feel strongly could use our services and get results. But, if it’s not a priority for them for whatever reason, they aren’t a qualified prospect.
Important note: That’s not saying to forget them forever – the timing may just be bad. Put them on the “lead nurturing” list and use inbound marketing strategies to try to further develop the relationship until they’re more ready.
I’ll admit that one of my downfalls is that I don’t give up. If I find a prospect I know I can help, I feel like I should move heaven and earth to try to convince them to work with me. It’s hard to let go of potentially really good customers!
Our time is our most valuable asset. What Janice reinforced to me during our conversation is to qualify quickly and move on.
A huge thanks to Krista Moon for this blog on crucial qualifying questions. Moon Marketing creates integrated sales and marketing campaigns that build a following, generate sales leads, and help salespeople sell.