A new email pops up in your inbox. It’s a name you don’t recognize, but the subject line says- “Pricing info.” You open the email to find that it’s someone who found your information online. They’re interested in your product and they want more information. Even better, they want to know if you have time for a phone call later this afternoon.
It’s every salesperson’s dream, right? If only more prospects would magically appear in your inbox.
You have a call with the prospect and he seems very interested, but he needs more information. You have a face-to-face meeting with him. Then another call. You mail out information and send some follow-up emails. Soon, the excitement of the initial email wears off. What once seemed like a sure-thing now seems like it may not happen at all. The sale has lost all traction.
Every time you try to move the process forward, you get the same response – “I need more time.” Or maybe, “I’m still thinking over my options.”
What he’s really telling you is that he’s not interested, but for any number of reasons, he won’t come out and say it. Why would someone ask for information on a product they don’t intend to buy? Maybe they really do just want information. Maybe they realized the product was outside their budget. They could have put the cart ahead of the horse and subsequently realized they don’t need your product quite yet.
Instead of trying to read your prospect’s mind, you would be better served by analyzing what you did (or didn’t do) to get to this point. You were thrilled when you got the information request. You assumed that you had a sale in the bag. But you never qualified your prospect, and that’s why you’ve lost hours of your time to a person who will likely never complete the transaction.
Years ago, IBM came up with the BANT method for its salespeople to qualify prospects. The idea is that by qualifying the prospect upfront, you can avoid the risk of losing hours of time on those who aren’t qualified. BANT stands for:
- Budget – Can they afford your product?
- Authority – Is your prospect the decision-maker on the purchase?
- Need – Do they need your product?
- Time – Is their need urgent? Will they complete the deal relatively soon?
The only way to uncover that information is to ask. Now, you may not want to come right out and ask, “Can you afford this product?” However, there are other ways to go about it. Below are seven great questions to ask in an early call or meeting to determine whether your prospect is qualified. You may want to develop your own questions and add to this list.
- What is the problem that you are trying to fix?
- What does this problem currently cost you?
- What would happen if you didn’t resolve the problem?
- How much has been allocated for a solution to this problem? (this will probably not be answered on the first call, but it is good to test the waters on the ballpark your solution is relative to what not resolving the problem will cost them)
- Why now? What made you decide to take action?
- What is the decision making process? Do you have the final sign-off on this deal? If not, who does?
- What is your deadline for having this issue resolved?
The great thing about asking these questions is that they give you information you can use later in the process. If the prospect is dragging their feet, you can remind them that their deadline is fast approaching. If they balk at your price, you can point out that your price is less than what they currently spend on the issue.
Qualifying your prospects is one of the most important steps in any sales process. Unfortunately, far too many salespeople skip right over it. They want to go straight from getting the lead to closing the sale. When you waste time on an unqualified prospect, though, those are hours that you will never, ever get back.
If you need help qualifying your prospects or guiding them through your process, let’s talk about it. I have coached and trained sales people for more than 30 years, and I would welcome the opportunity to help you reach a new level of success. Your first coaching session is no-cost and comes with no-commitment. Schedule your session today.
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