In an previous article, we discussed why you should qualify your appointments and what a difference it can make to you. In this article, we’re going to look at how best to do it and examine the critical things we need to consider when qualifying our appointments.
The Task Of Qualification……
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 going to cancel anyway, or turn into a “no show” or an “I forgot you were coming”. Also the better you are at qualifying and handling objections, the less this becomes an issue.
So let’s take a look at the sort of things that we should consider qualifying or finding out before the meeting……
1. Is the meeting is with the Decision Maker(s)?
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!”
2. Is there a budget for the product or service I’m offering?
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.
3. What are their expectations of the meeting?
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.
4. What solutions have they already looked at?
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).
5. Confirm appointment details
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!
Follow the tips above and watch your sales soar! I look forward to hearing your sales success stories and your sales “learns”.
If you liked the article above, why not call us now on 0845 130 6779 and find out how we could help you with your sales?