In order to improve sales effectiveness, it is critical to improve our ability to qualify the opportunities that we work on. This is important because time is limited and valuable, so we must optimize our time management by working only on deals that are real in terms of interest, budget, and authority to buy.
Below are some good questions to help with qualifying sales opportunities to weed out any time wasters.
Why are you looking to make a change?
As a sales person talking to a prospect, you will typically know why they should buy from you as you know your products features and benefits inside out. But in order to classify the opportunity as qualified, it is critical for the customer to know why they would buy from you or one of your competitors. Instead of telling them why the should change, ask them to tell you why they are looking to change and the answer will tell you a lot in terms of the quality of the opportunity.
What is the impact of doing nothing?
It is common for us to see the other companies that we are competing with for the business as the only competition, but one of the biggest competitors that we face is the option to do nothing. When qualifying sales, it is helpful to ask what happens if they do not make a change or purchase. If the answer is that there is not a huge impact from staying the course, then the quality of the opportunity is less as there is not enough pain and pain is a key motivator for change.
Is there an event that is dependent on this happening?
Identifying an event that the purchase is tied to can help to qualify an opportunity. This is referred to as a "compelling event" and examples are a contract expiring, a current system being discontinued, an organizational change, etc. With the purchase being tied to an event, you then know that the prospect is more likely to do something and you know about when they are likely to do something making the opportunity qualified.
Who else are you looking at?
When qualifying sales, it is critical to identify what other options and vendors the prospect is looking at. Are they only talking to you or are there other options they are considering?
How do you feel about your other options?
If you identify that the prospect is looking at other vendors, ask them how they feel about their other options. Explore to identify their level of interest in your competition while qualifying sales.
How far along are you with the other vendors?
A key data point is how far along the prospect is with your competition. If they are far along and you are coming in at the end, this opportunity is not as qualified.
Is the project budgeted?
It can be uncomfortable to discuss numbers early, but one easy way to do that is to ask if the project has been budgeted for. A “no” will not necessarily disqualify, but a “yes” can help with qualify the opportunity.
What is the decision making process?
When qualifying sales, you will want to determine the level of power that the person you are dealing with has so that you can get executive sponsorship. One easy way to determine this is to simply ask what the decision process is and map that all the way out to point where a contract is signed. The map will tell you how much power the person you are dealing with has and the more power that person has, the more qualified the opportunity is.