The first step to fixing your lead qualification process is figuring out whether your lead qualification process even needs work. We can do it in the spirit of comedian Jeff Foxworthy – just not as funny. You might have a qualification problem if you have customers that make you think, “Someday I am going to get rid of this guy.” You might have a qualification problem if you have clients who are disappointed in the work that you do, even though you go out of your way to take care of them.
"You might have a qualification problem if your high-maintenance clients carry the lowest margins"
You might have a qualification problem if you are doing things outside of your sweet spot on a regular basis.
We talk in sales about getting past gatekeepers, but are your salespeople acting like a gatekeeper? You are doing good work. You are making your clients thrilled by the results that you bring them, so why don’t you guard yourself from getting clients that you don’t want? Similar to the way a gatekeeper makes you prove that you should be let through the gate, your sales people can get their prospects to prove to them that they should be let through your gate. Now who is selling who? Wouldn’t that be easier?
Identify the qualities of the customer that you want
Take some time and identify the customer that you want to have. Qualify your prospects to those standards and get rid of the rest so that you have time to pursue the right ones. Remember that they are the ones that need help. Your doctor doesn’t convince you that they are the right ones to help you, so you shouldn’t be doing that for your prospects.
Have a list of questions that force your prospect to play light defense
Don’t send in your salespeople unarmed. Spend the time to equip them with some questions that effectively get your prospect to reveal whether or not they are going to be good for you. For example, instead of: “How much business could I expect to do with you in a year?” Ask: “We find it difficult to work with smaller accounts, what is the potential business that we could expect from you—if you decide to choose us—to help us with efficiency?”
Your people need to be curious, not like a guard at the castle gates. They need to posture by showing concern and demonstrating to the prospect that they want the post-sale relationship to be long term. Cautious skepticism is best, not being a brick wall that prospects have to force their way through. Otherwise the prospect will think that you really do not want their business and will find someone who does.
Brian Kavicky is Vice President/Owner at Lushin, Inc. He has spent his entire career in sales, sales management and operations management in high growth companies. Working with Presidents, CEO's, Entrepreneurs and their sales teams, Brian helps them strategically achieve sustainable growth through challenging their current beliefs and behaviors. To contact Brian, send him an email.