Qualifying every prospect is an important step in the sales process. But, some reps aren’t sure how to qualify a prospect so they either don’t bother or don’t do it effectively. The key to an effective qualification is asking the right questions. John Barrows, in an article for Sales Hacker, points out the importance of asking questions. He even believes that there are certain questions that reps should ALWAYS ask.
He shares an extensive list of 10 questions that reps should be asking during each qualification process, and he explains the reason behind each’s importance. Below are a few from his list, including reasons why they are so important for qualifying:
- What are the details of the decision making process and who is involved? While this may seem like an obvious question to ask, Barrows notes that a surprising number of reps don’t ask! It’s imperative to know the details of the decision-making process, and you should find out right away to save yourself from wasting time. Getting pushback from the prospect? Barrows suggests explaining that "you can help them make their buying process as efficient as possible by ensuring you have the right resources lined up on your end.” Still getting a vague response? This may be a sign that the prospect isn’t a good fit.
- What’s the best way to communicate with you going forward? Don’t guess how you can reach the prospect. People prefer different methods of communication, and the prospect may have a preference. Once he or she answers, Barrows recommends saying the following: “I promise I won’t abuse it, but when I do reach out to you it will usually [be] in the interest of getting you what you need to make an informed and timely decision. With that, can I get your commitment that you’ll respond back to me in a timely fashion?” This sets firm communication expectations immediately.
- Do you have a calendar in front of you? During the sales process it’s important to have a clear, mutually-agreed upon next step. “Too often sales reps get off the phone with a prospect or a client with nothing more than a ‘follow up with me next week’ as a next step,” he writes. “They then play the ‘touching base’ and ‘checking in’ game with the prospect as they try to get back on their calendar.” After each communication, set up the next call or meeting. By asking if the prospect has a calendar, it’s hard for him or her to avoid setting a date. Most people will be talking to you from a desk, where it’s highly likely there is a calendar nearby.
Check out Barrows’ entire article to read about every must-ask qualifying question. He does a great job of explaining the importance of each. And, he includes other relevant tips and advice as well. You can use his article as a guide to crafting your own qualification process and ensure that process will be a success.