I’ve been talking with a lot of sales counselors lately, and on several occasions the subject of qualifying leads has come up. What made these discussions worthy of a blog post, in my mind, was that in each case I thought the sales counselor really understood the objective of qualifying a lead.
Too often when we’re asked to evaluate an under-performing sales process or marketing situation, we find the sales team is too quick to dismiss leads generated from the promotional activities. We’ll be told that the leads they have had to work with are of poor quality. Why, we ask?
Generally, the response is some version of, Well, I can tell by their zip code, or I looked up their home value on the Internet, or They said they couldn’t really afford it. Because of this, many qualified leads are dismissed, when perhaps they were just displaying the typical consumer behavior of putting some distance between them and any salesperson.
But at the same time, if you aren’t qualifying, you aren’t discovering which leads warrant your time and attention. What it comes down to, then, is practicing effective qualifying. And effective qualifying comes from asking good questions and knowing when and how to introduce price. Let’s face it, most prospects really want to know what it’s going to cost, and we want to know if they can afford it. So getting to that conversation pretty early in the process helps both sides.
The sales counselors I referenced above who impressed me with their qualifying skills had a few things in common. One, they were comfortable discussing sensitive issues, of which money is one. And I think this was the case because of a second quality they possessed ─ professionalism. They aren’t asking someone how much money they have, they’re genuinely trying to be of service to an individual who is inquiring about the community. Isn’t determining whether someone can qualify an important part of being of service?
Perhaps ask yourself why you’re qualifying a lead. If the answer is, So I know who not to waste my time on, then you might want to revisit your qualifying process. You might be cutting corners, or starting with the assumption that most prospects aren’t qualified. But if your answer is, Because we both have a vested interest in understanding their ability to afford the product before we spend my time and theirs exploring it, then you’ll have positive results even with those who don’t qualify.
Give this selling skill some time and attention. It can pay huge dividends.