What makes a Qualified Prospect, Qualified?

Questions to help you determine the potential to make a sale!

Have you ever asked yourself:
What are the specific characteristics of a qualified prospect?
What are the minimum pieces of information I need to know to determine if the potential for a sale exists?
What pieces of information are required before you consider a prospect qualified?
Am I using a consistent sales system or process to successfully obtain the information needed?
Here are 17 areas with questions you may want to ask yourself so you can create a qualified prospect profile or what I call an Account Sales Profile TM.

Basic Demographics
Ask yourself “Which type of organization do I make the most money off of a sale?”
What types of organizations will provide the highest payoff in return for your limited amount of selling time?
What are the demographics of a most profitable account in terms of:

  • Industry Verticals
  • Gross Sales
  • Number of Employees
  • Products, Services or Solutions

    Business Practices
    How does the account currently conduct business?
    Where are they now?
    How did the account conduct business in the past?
    What is the account’s future strategic direction?
    Where do they want to be?
    How does the account plan to get there?

    Need, Problem, Challenge, Project or Critical Business Issues, Drivers
    Is there a perceived or unperceived need for your solution?
    What are the needs, challenges or problems the account is facing?
    What is keeping them up at night?
    What is required to solve the problem and does your solution fit the bill?
    Are they actively searching for a solution, which you can provide? Do they have any current or future business or technical initiatives?
    Have they expressed an interest in what you have to offer?
    Do they have a compelling business issue that needs to be solved?
    Are they using outdated technology, which may need to be replaced?
    Is there a for a specific technology but they can’t afford time/money to build their own technical infrastructure?
    Are they using some type of solution and not yet seeing business results?
    Is the contact starting to look at competitors?
    Has a specific person been assigned to find a solution to a specific need? Does your contact have a serious intention to buy or are they just being time wasters?

    Timeframes
    What are the timeframes for:

  • The RFI or RFP or RFQ (Request for Information, Proposal or Quote)
  • Evaluation period
  • Decision date
  • Roll-out of a pilot solution
  • Implementation of an enterprise wide solution

    Budget
    Do they have a budget already set aside?
    Can they get it from someone else’s budget or next year’s budget?
    At what level are further signoffs required? ($10,000, $50,000? 100,000?)
    What amount is budgeted for a solution?
    Is there a deadline where they will lose the budget or funding (usually in schools or government organizations)?

    Good Fit
    Does your solution make good business sense?
    Can we establish an ongoing relationship?
    Have you calculated the ROI?
    What is the Net Payback Period or how fast will the solution pay for itself?
    Have you created a cost justification?
    What would make them smile?
    Are they growing or in trouble?
    Has the account bought into the vision or proposed solution?
    Can our solution help them produce tangible or measurable results to calculate the ROI?
    Is there a technological fit with the current technology in use or will additional technology be required?
    Is the contact willing take action towards a solution?

    Evaluation Criteria
    What is the evaluation criteria, if any? Will they fax it to you?
    Do you have a criteria you can provide them with?
    What will the final decision be based on?
    Is there an agreement on what is important or what is of value?
    Have evaluation criteria been defined?

    Business Impact
    What is the cost of inaction or taking the wrong action?
    What are the consequences or penalties if the account does not take action by a certain date?
    What is the cost of losing a customer?
    What is the cost of shopping cart abandonment in their web store?
    Have you calculated the cost of the business impact?
    What does your contact personally stand to gain or lose if a solution is or is not implemented?

    Processes
    What are the exact evaluation, budgeting and decision-making processes?
    Who does the negotiating?
    What is negotiable and what is non-negotiable?
    Who signs the final Agreement?

    People
    Who will be involved or influence the final decision (This can be one or different individuals).
    Is there an individual (or individuals) that understands the value of [a certain technology], but hasn’t found a good fit yet?
    Have all the key stakeholders been identified and contacted?
    Are you speaking with the correct contact, which, assuming you have the right solution, has the authority to buy?
    Do you know how much authority your contact has before further approvals are required?
    Who are the decision-makers, evaluators, influencers, and end users of your potential solution?

    Final Decision Maker(s) signs the check.
    Motivation: What is the effect on our bottom line?

    Evaluator(s) screen out and says no.
    Motivation: What is the best solution that meets our needs?

    Guide(s) want to help guide you through the process.
    Motivation: I like your solution. How can I help you get your solution as the one chosen?

    End User(s) are concerned about the effect on them and their job.
    Motivation: Will it make my job easier or harder?

    Initiator(s) want to look good.
    Motivation: How can I show that I did a good job of gathering information?

    Purchasing/Legal/Contracts are responsible for negotiating the terms and conditions.
    Motivation: How can we get the most favorable terms and conditions for our company (i.e. additional discounts, extra technical support or consulting services, lower pricing, more training or extra sets of documentation, better payment terms, guarantees, etc.)?

    Organizational Chart
    What is the formal and informal organizational structure?
    Who reports to whom?
    Who influences whom?
    Who are the counterparts, back-ups, peers and subordinates?
    Who are the assistants?
    Do you have all names and titles spelled correctly?
    Do you have the correct street address (room, floor, suite, mail code, etc.) , e-mail addresses, fax numbers and extensions?
    What are the responsibilities of each of your contacts?

    Technology
    What types of technology (hardware and software) are in use?
    Does the prospect have the necessary technology in place or available to implement your solution? Could the correct technical environment to support your solution be put in place.

    Competition
    What other companies are also being considered and why?
    Who is favoring the other company’s solution and why?
    What is it they like or dislike about their current supplier?
    If they had a wish list and could have or change anything they wanted with their current or a potential supplier, what would be on the list?

    Locations
    Are decisions centralized (one location makes the decision for all locations) or decentralized (each location decides for themselves)?
    How many locations, subsidiaries, partners, alliances and/or joint ventures are there and do we do business with any of them?
    Is it possible to sell your solution on an enterprise wide basis rather than a departmental or business unit basis?
    Do any other locations have an existing relationship with your company, partners or affiliates?

    Confidence
    Does the contact trust you?
    Have you established credibility?
    Does the contact know the company you represent?
    Does the contact believe you sincerely have their best interests at heart?
    Do they have confidence in your company’s ability to provide them with and support your solution that works?

    Resources
    Does the contact have the time and staff necessary to conduct an evaluation?
    Does the contact have the time and staff necessary to prepare a cost justification?
    Does the contact have a budget available or access to discretionary funds?
    Does the contact have the right technical environment (hardware, software)?

    Next Steps
    After summarizing your conversation, follow up with a next step question such as:
    “What’s next?” or “What’s the next step?”
    “Where do we go from here?”
    “If we had a solution that would help you do a better job than your current solution what is the process you go through to look at new solutions?”
    “What do we need to do to move forward on this?”
    What actions need to be taken by you and the prospect to get them to evaluate your solution?
    Have you set up a Sales M..A.P. (Mutually Agreed upon Process)?
    When do these actions need to be completed by?
    What is the timeline or milestones for moving the sale to its completion?
    Next steps need to be time and date specific. "I'll call you back next month" is not the same as "We'll speak next Tuesday at 3p.m. Eastern Time to discuss the merits of the proposal after you have had the opportunity to review it with your peers, correct?

    Examples of Next Steps
    Do you have permission to send literature, an email or a fax while also setting a specific date and time to call to be sure the information is received and to answer questions or discuss the materials?
    Are they willing to accept or do they want a demonstration or presentation?
    Is a technical call required to answer or clarify any technical issues?
    Are you in the habit of following a phone call with a fax or an email?
    Do you follow a fax with a phone call or an email?
    What about following an email with a phone call or a fax?

    Conclusion
    If you or your sales force has not defined the characteristics of a most profitable prospect, it is time to do so. Consistency of definitions and the use of a well defined sales system will result in better-qualified, more profitable prospects who can and will buy.

    Ron S. LaVine, MBA - ron@intellworks.com
    Chief Executive Officer
    Intellworks, Inc. - Live TeleSales Call Sales Training Workshops

    Copyright 2001-2002 by Intellworks, Inc. - Live TeleSales Call Sales Training Workshops. This article was reprinted with permission from Intellworks, Inc.'s Sales TIPs for Sales Success FREE, weekly, email newsletter. Sign up for your FREE subscription now at: http://www.intellworks.com/.


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