Top 3 Reasons Why Qualifying Sales Prospects Never Works
Qualifying Sales Prospects
Qualifying Sales Prospects in B2B Sales has never been more important, given the longer sales cycles and the ever increasing cost of sales. Pursuing an unqualified opportunity can be a huge waste of time, money and resources, that companies can ill afford. Recently I talked with a VP of Sales who had signed off on $25,000 of non-chargeable pre-sales costs, based on one of his Sales People qualifying a prospect as REALLY, REALLY HOT. With a potential upside of $375,000, everyone was so excited they couldn’t wait to get started. Three months later despite the completion of the $25,000 of non-chargeable pre-sales work, the project has been shelved by the client. Yes the VP of Sales should bear some of the responsibility, but how many of us have done some form of “Unpaid Consulting” in advance of a Purchase Order? A simple 1 hour meeting with a prospect has to be paid for by someone. Who pays for the many hours it takes to write a bid or proposal, only for the client to say “Sorry, priorities have changed, we no longer require this”. So why does Qualifying not work?
1) Process – despite the huge waste involved, some companies to this day, still have no formal Qualification process in place, and others have a Process, but simply fail to follow it. In the past, simple sales qualifying processes were created such as B.A.N.T (Budget, Authority, Needs & Time). As Sales People evolved to meet buyers who were more informed and looking for more complicated Solutions, then models such as S.C.O.T.S.M.A.N. (Solution, Competition, Originality, Timescales, Size, Money, Authority & Need) were used for qualifying sales prospects.
2) Mindset – as the word qualify is generally perceived as positive and the word disqualify is seen as negative, then immediately Sales People take on the wrong Mindset. If Sales People “Want” or “Hope” the prospect will qualify, then they will “Help” the prospect qualify by being less rigorous with their qualification. Furthermore the need to hit Sales Targets and pressure from Sales Managers only adds to the problem, and fuels the wrong Mindset. If Sales People were incentivized and compensated on how many Prospects they Disqualified, you can bet many of the problems would disappear.
3) Management – great Sales Managers coach and mentor their team to succeed. Using Post-Call Debriefing to objectively review whether a prospect is qualified or not is a great Coaching tool. Inserting “Go and No Go” points early in the Sales Process, so decisions based on logic not emotions can be made. Furthermore sharing information on the cost of Pre Sales, helps Sales People understand the importance of Sales Qualification.
There is one thing worse than NO Sales and that is NO Sales with a huge bill for Cost of Sales. After talking with a client who was about to book a trip to Australia to demonstrate a piece of machinery, I suggested they might want to check the door size of the building they had agreed to do the demo in. Yes it turned out the door width was too small for their machine, and no one had thought to check. Flights for two to Australia, hotel and the Shipping costs of a 40ft Sea Container for their demo machine were close to $15,000. When the Business Owner asked the Australian prospect some qualifying questions, he uncovered the fact they would only ever buy from an Australian based company as Aftercare and Support was so critical for them.
The biggest problem for Qualifying Sales Prospects will always be the emotions of Hope and Excitement combined with the simple inner desire all Sales People have to sell, all serve to cloud our judgement.
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