Gone are the days when simply qualifying a prospect was enough; now sales people must be much more sophisticated to move the lead through the early stages of sales cycle. If your sales people are not qualifying sales leads effectively, time and sales are being lost. Following are three reasons why your sales people might not be effectively qualifying their leads and suggestions for how to remedy the cause.
1. Sales People Are Not Qualifying Before the Call
With the amount of information available over the internet and through peer networks, many basic queries for qualifying sales leads can be answered before sales people even pick up the phone. This is important for your sales team to appreciate because prospects' first instinct will be to hang up if sales people asking basic questions about their business; questions that could be answered with a simple web search. Make sure that your sales people are qualifying sales leads effectively by:
- Coaching your sales team on how to quickly and efficiently find information about prospects using readily available tools, including the internet, subscriptions to prospect databases, and peer networks.
- Helping your sales team understand which pieces of information are the most important when planning to call a lead (hint: The first call is all about the lead and his or her position in the company).
- Training your sales people to look for red flags, such as recent regulatory filings, that could impact receptiveness to a sales message.
2. Your Sales People Could Be Better Engaged
Qualifying sales leads takes time, and that is time that most salespeople feel they don't have. Sometimes, sales people fall into a false mindset where qualifying sales leads does not seem as important to the big picture as it should and can disengage from the qualification process. A sales prospect can sense this disengagement from the moment the sales person speaks. Since a prospect is not likely to share important or sensitive information with a sales person without rapport, and rapport cannot be built unless a sales person is fully engaged with the prospect, this can have a negative influence on the ability to qualify sales leads. If you suspect this might be happening, talk with your sales people about how qualifying sales leads fits into the overall sales process and the importance of making every lead count.
3. The Right Questions Are Missing From the Qualification Dialogue
Although a great deal of information for qualifying sales leads can be generated before the first call, it is rare that all of the qualification questions can be answered without picking up the phone and starting a conversation. Yet if your sales people are not asking the right questions using an approachable, conversational tone, one of two things might be happening to prevent effective lead qualification: The right information might not be uncovered, leading to wasted time, or the prospect may feel pressured and decline to engage. Help your sales people qualify leads more effectively with questions such as:
- Has your organization ever taken on a project like this before? What were the benefits and/or drawbacks for you?
- Assuming that our product is the right solution for your needs, what would be your organization's timeline to implement?
- Can you tell me more about how your organization makes a decision like this, and who the other decision makers who might need to be involved would be?
- If your company decides not to pursue a solution right now, what do you think your alternate plan of action will be?
Qualifying sales leads generates long term sales success by ensuring that sales people are spending the greatest amount of time pursuing leads that are likely to result in new business. Make sure that your sales team has the tools it needs for qualifying sales leads effectively.