On social media this week I’ve been sharing some really useful sources, including videos, that have outlined several tips about how you can not only survive but thrive in a recession or economic downturn as a sales professional.
If you missed these, have a look at my LinkedIn feed or my other social accounts where you’ll find all the information.
The final tip I shared this week is vital. It’s something that if done poorly – or not at all – causes people to waste huge amounts of time. Worse than that, it also tends to lead to poor results, and if you’re not careful, that can lead to a loss of self-belief that can drag you into a spiral of negativity and worsening fortunes.
What is it?
Qualifying your leads effectively.
It’s the key difference between successful salespeople and business owners and those that fail. It really is.
So, because it’s so vital that you qualify as effectively as possible, I’ve decided to share with you one of my key prospecting tools.
Like all the best tools, systems or “hacks” it’s really very simple. When you are prospecting, make sure you have a print out in front of you that allows you to score every lead you speak to. These scoring criteria will let you easily decide if they are a fit for you and your business.
You need to come up with a set number of criteria – I recommend somewhere between 8 and 12 – and for each one, relevant questions that prompt the prospect to give you the information you need to score them on each of them.
So you get a prospect quality judging system that you can use to complement your existing scripts. You can download a FREE template that I’ve built for you by clicking on this image:
Here’s how it works. By making sure that you ask the questions against each of your criteria in the right way, you will prompt useful answers from the prospect. For each answer, simply mark it with a one for a “good fit” and a zero if it’s not what you were looking for,
So, let’s say you’ve identified 12 key criteria. As an example, one of these could be that their business is of a certain minimum size. A client I was working with the other week told me that their service is only really of major benefit to businesses that turnover more than £1 million. Hence that’s one of the prospecting criteria. So far, so straightforward.
BUT, don’t just ask “So what’s your current turnover?” Asking blunt, direct questions like this makes you sound like… well, it makes you sound like a salesperson.
How about something along these lines. “Can you tell me more about your company and how it’s grown?” Only if they don’t give you specifics should you follow up with something a bit more directed, such as “That’s really impressive! How big have you actually become now?”.
If their answer meets your criteria, they score 1 point for it. Otherwise, mark it as zero.
It can be useful to highlight your criteria in different ways. For example, you can highlight or weight those criteria that meet your definition of the PERFECT prospect. These are usually going to be more important than the others, so even if they score zero on the rest, if they score on all the highlighted areas, you could consider qualifying them ahead of a prospect with a higher score, but fewer of these key criteria met.
Obviously, you need to think hard about your own business or sales practice and nail those criteria and which are more weighted than others, if that’s what you choose to do. This is something I work through with all my clients. Not only is it important, but it’s also unique to every business and every salesperson, so it needs to be tailored!
Once we’ve finished our marking, you get a score out of 12. You’ll see on the download I’ve shared, on the right-hand side, that there is a key for the total score they received and gives an indication of the fit of the prospect.
A low score means they have not scored highly and they’re not a good fit. You can say to them, “Thanks very much, but I don’t think we’re right for you based on X, Y and Z”. This actually then gives the prospect a chance to either confirm your suspicion that they weren’t a good fit or perhaps to clarify some of their answers.
Also look at lower scores overall who scored well on all your highlighted “perfect prospect” criteria. These are prospects you probably want to set up a further meeting with to explore a bit more. Start to build a relationship with these prospects because you can see that it probably won’t be a complete waste of time.
An excellent overall score means you’ll want to move this prospect forward along your process and can proceed in the usual way to get them along your pipeline.
Finally, anyone who gets full marks is your sale to lose! This means they are a perfect fit for you and you really want to look after them. Prioritise them for action and make sure you follow all the right steps to convert them from “suspect” to “prospect” to “customer”.
I hope you can see how using this more structured qualification technique can save you a shed load of time. But be strict with your cutoff point. Set a rule that you won’t take anyone to the next stage who scores less than a certain number.
Be disciplined enough to realise it’s not going to work and recommend an alternative. If you do it in a positive way, such as “I don’t want to waste your time or money working with us when I don’t think we’re right for you”. That will leave them with a positive impression of you, and hasn’t burned any bridges or slammed shut any doors when you contact them again next year or even further down the line.
This qualification tool that I’ve given you, set up correctly, is a very simple but highly effective way to qualify your leads and I encourage you to use it.
As I said, the key is nailing those criteria and developing the right questioning techniques. I’d like to help people who aren’t using this tool to build one that will work for their business. The first TWO people to drop me an email to [email protected] asking for help will get a free 30-minute session with me where we can work together to build the template into a personalised one for your business. I look forward to speaking with you soon!
You can always contact me through my website, by email to [email protected], or through the usual social channels – LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube – by searching for “jameswhitesales”.