Thursday, July 8, 2010

What the Hell - Qualify the Damn Customers!

OK, I'm a bit frustrated today. Rookies are one thing, but when salespeople represent themselves as seasoned veterans, you'd assume that they know how to ask the important questions during the first qualifying meeting to really understand whether we move forward or whether we politely tell the customer that may not be a fit.

Qualifying is one of the most important parts of the sales cycle and is really performed on every step, on every meeting and gives the salesperson the critical information to determine whether their product/service really CAN have an impact on the prospect. Some of the giants in the industry actually call selling: "The Art of Disqualification." I couldn't agree more.

Look here folks, you only have 8-10 hours in a day. We must always be disqualifying customers who will probably not buy from us and move on to other prospects that are really qualified. How do you qualify a customer? Well, it really involves:

  • Ask open-ended questions. I can't tell you how many salespeople ask an opened-ended question, only to quickly close the question by offering suggestions to the customer to answer it. Are you kidding me?

  • Talk about their company. You want to learn everything you can about this prospect. Their vision, goals, plans, structure, finances, competitors, customers and how they make decisions. You'll pick up great information that might uncover opportunities for you.

  • Talk about their existing products/services that you sell. This will give you keen insight into what traps are hidden behind the decision.

  • Talk about the criteria they'll use to make this decision. I've found that the best approach is a direct one, "when you think about this decision, what are the characteristics that you'll use to really determine one solution is better than the others?"

  • Talk about budget and money right up front. Here's a great one, "Given the information you've given me a typical solution will probably cost between $125,000 to !160,000. Does this number align with your budget?"

  • Talk about time lines. A classic blunder here is not talking about time frames and later finding out that they need the solution in a week, when you can't possible even order the product in that time frame.

Come on salespeople! Step it up. Qualify, Qualify, Qualify.

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