Just as the rise of digital commerce has transformed so many aspects of our everyday lives, it has also shifted the ways that business and sales operate. Whereas salespeople of the past carefully honed each sales meeting, the online access to both potential clients and buyers has made it ever more important to analyze the fit between them. In short, the sales process has been transformed, making the qualification of sales leads essential to avoiding wasted energy and guiding the conversation.
Guiding the Conversation
One of the first things you should be aware of in the qualification of potential clients is the effective pacing of the initial meeting. It’s important to contain your enthusiasm, as this is less a showcase than a chance to establish a personal connection. Not every potential opportunity will work out, so salespeople should weigh long-term implications. In the past, the BANT model of Budget, Authority, Needs, and Timeline served this purpose by analyzing fit in terms of the client’s budget, needs, and timeline, according to decision-makers. As times have changed, so too have the methods of evaluation.
Determine the Fit
With more informed potential clients, the goal has shifted to adding value through the sales process. One method proven effective is referred to as MANIAC-T, which represents the following.
- Impending Event
Click here to read more about the MANIAC-T qualification method.
Throughout this process, it’s important to work with your marketing team in preparing to be qualified as much as you qualify the prospective client. Remember that both parties are vetting one another to see if the fit is a good one, so be ready to respond to potential questions.
Ask the Right Questions
The central means to qualify sales leads is through well-crafted questions. From the get-go, remember that the goal is to ensure a strong fit between your company and the prospective client. So rather than enthusiastically dropping the pitch early on, which can lead to an overly defensive first interaction, the focus is on crafting an emotional connection. You can do this through probing questions that tap into the prospective client’s concerns by first seeking out decision-makers, then asking about criteria, and finally questioning the qualities of their ideal client. In the process, you can expand what might otherwise be a brief conversation and establish whether a sales relationship is possible.
Envision the Future
Two key components to qualifying a lead are establishing the potential client’s budget, and identifying decision makers. For qualification, it’s important to both know your prospect’s financial resources and to establish that you are talking to the right people. If it’s not possible to talk directly to authority figures, salespeople will need to turn the influencers with whom they work into champions of the decision-making process. At the same time, you could have either negative or positive consequences to a strong proposition. It will be necessary to consider both when formulating powerful questions, as they can be the deciding factor for overall fit.
Each of these steps will ensure your ability to control the vetting and qualification of potential clients, mainly through the creation of targeted and effective questions. Remember that this is a chance for both you and the client to evaluate your potential fit and long-term relationship, so be prepared to answer probing questions from your prospective client, too.