If a prospect shows any level of interest, it’s tempting to get excited and start thinking about the potential sales opportunity. All sales people should be focused on opportunities that they can win. This is what sales leaders and sellers both want but it’s not so easy to achieve.
Talking to someone does not make them an opportunity ready lead - even if they were very interested in the conversation. There are many possibilities when qualifying a lead, but here are 3 questions sellers should always ask themselves when qualifying.
A lot of times when companies come to us for help on qualification, it’s often the case that the company does not have a consensus on a lead definition. Is it a marketing lead or a sales lead? What should be the difference between the two for your company?
For the purpose of sales qualification, let’s assume a lead is defined as a prospect that marketing has deemed ready enough to send to sales for follow up and outreach. Now that we know what kind of lead qualification we are dealing with, let’s start figuring out whether or not this lead is an actual opportunity.
Opportunities are always generated due to the actions taken by the buyer. No matter how often sales people call or how compelling the messaging is, some buyers will not budge from their status quo - 56.5% of them to be exact.
According to multiple research projects, buyers fall into 3 main market segments at any given moment in time. If you take a snapshot in time of any B2B or B2G market, you will find that 56.5% of the market is completely satisfied with the status quo, 40.5% of the market is frustrated with their current situation but not motivated enough to immediately act on that frustration, and 3% of the market is actively seeking the type of solution you are selling.
This is not a permanent picture. Buyers move through these stages in a cyclical fashion. Therefore, when someone is in the 56.5% market segment, there is no reason to spend energy towards these prospects. The 40.5% need a seller’s attention but the real opportunity lies in prospects in the 3% market segment.
Since the approach is different with each market segment, sellers have to be able to dissect which segment the lead belongs in. This is the second phase of qualification.
This is perhaps the most important question for a seller to ask themselves in any qualification process. Qualification is not just a step in the sales process, qualification is the entire sales process. Sellers need to ask themselves, “Is this still an opportunity?” after every single interaction with a prospect.
Just like how buyers can move forward in their decision to act, they can also retreat and conclude that the status quo is satisfactory. Sales peoples’ efforts need to reflect those changes. Sellers should not be pursuing opportunities they hope will close, they should be focused on deals that can actually close.
For that to be a reality, sellers have to always be questioning whether or not a lead is an active opportunity.
Your sellers need to be armed with skills to qualify properly. Qualification can get very complex when you include multiple decision makers with a high level of influence on the decision. Therefore, you will grow beyond just these three questions however, these three questions will serve you in any opportunity.
Make sure you know what your company defines a lead, determine the prospect’s market segment, and constantly evaluate whether or not a lead is an active opportunity.
Tom Snyder is the founder of Funnel Clarity; a training and consulting company focused on humanizing sales. Snyder’s passion is helping companies achieve measurable sales performance improvement. Previously, Snyder spent 10 years with the sales training firm Huthwaite Inc, culminating in the role of CEO. He later founded Business Performance Partners, a sales and strategy consulting firm that evolved into Funnel Clarity. Snyder is a sought after international speaker and was named one of the Most Influential Sales Leaders. He has authored two McGraw Hill best sellers, “Escaping the Price Driven Sale” (2007) and “Selling in a New Market Space” (2010).