In this article, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston discusses 5 ideas that will help qualify your sales meetings with prospects better…..
Okay, so I’m a big fan of qualification. Qualification of the prospect. Qualification of the opportunity. Qualification of the individual. And most certainly, qualification of the meeting.
This is something that most salespeople miss (or are scared to do), that often comes back to haunt them later on in the sales process!
The task of qualification is made a little more difficult is someone else is making the calls for you, particularly if it’s not someone in your organisation, i.e. you’ve given the task to a telemarketing agency or similar. You now have two choices. You can either get the person making the initial call to do some qualification for you (if it’s an internal person) or make a call once the appointment has been booked to do some additional qualification yourself.
A good rule of thumb to use here is that the more time and energy you’re investing in an appointment (in terms of research, driving time, appointment time and paperwork), the harder you should qualify. Most salespeople should certainly thing twice about attending an appointment made for them “blind” – without much knowledge of the company, their potential needs or what they’re after.
If you haven’t made the appointment yourself, then it’s always a good idea to make a call to do some additional qualification. First of all, this will give you a good idea of the quality of the appointment, but it will also allow you to build up valuable rapport with the prospect and start to understand more about their potential needs – making the face-to-face meeting much easier.
Now I know some of you will be saying “But Andy, doesn’t that make it easier for them to cancel the meeting?” Yes, at some level it does. But let’s be realistic about it, an appointment that cancels when you ring them to do some additional qualification was very likely going to cancel anyway, or turn into a “no show” or an “I forgot you were coming”.
Also if it’s done in the right way, very few (if any) meetings cancel, and the ones that are attended are more serious!
So let’s take a look at the sort of things that we should consider qualifying or finding out before the meeting……
I know this sounds obvious, but you’d be amazed how many appointments are booked with people who aren’t the decision maker for what you offer! There are many reasons for this, ranging from people being scared to ask the question, just assuming the person the person they’re talking to is the decision maker and even the old favourite “I need as many appointments as possible to hit my activity target, so any appointment will do!”
Now I know this is not needed for most salespeople, but for some of my clients it’s essential! The larger the purchase and the longer the sales cycle would mean that there has to be some sort of budget set aside, or “financial sponsor” in place, otherwise the project has little chance of moving ahead.
Are they expecting you to come and do a presentation? Or come and look at their challenges and suggest potential solutions? Or are they interested in what you have to offer? Depending on what their expectations are, the meeting will need to be prepared for and conducted in a different way.
How have they tried to solve the problem already? Have they looked at any of your competitors? What are the other solutions they could do? (including doing nothing).
This is the last step and one of the most important! I’ve lost count of the amount of salespeople who’ve told me that they’ve arrived at the wrong premises, for an appointment with someone who works at another office! Make sure you confirm time, date, location, who will be attending, any equipment or facilities needed etc.
Obviously the suggestions on the list above are purely ideas of qualifying questions you could ask. Depending on your market, your role and your industry you will have various things that you may need to qualify before it’s worth going to an appointment – including distance, potential spend, potential of future business etc.
The exact questions asked are entirely up to you. Just make sure you ask them and start to qualify your appointments properly!
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