We cannot forget that not all prospects are created equal. Some prospects are actually not prospects at all, they’re just suspects in disguise. Everybody in sales cannot find enough time to prospect. If we’re already challenged for time, shouldn’t we focus our time on the best opportunities?

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One concept I strongly advocate is to qualify a lead fast to ensure that you’re quickly able to know who has potential and who does not. This allows you to keep a cleaner pipeline, so you’ll have more time to spend on your best prospects.

The question is how do you know that the person you’re talking to is even capable of being a qualified prospect? Here are five things I would encourage you to look for to help answer that question. If you’re not qualifying them fast enough, ask these tough questions to get you the answer faster.

First, has the prospect shared any proprietary information with me? This is information unknown to the public – AKA: confidential information. No one will share this type of information unless they have a high level of confidence and trust that you can help them, or they’re in so much pain that they need help right away. Either way, this is a win for you, because they could be a great customer.

The second thing you should do is understand their timeline for making a decision. Your greatest competitor in sales is the “no decision.” Every one of us hear it! This happens when the customer doesn’t move forward with a decision, because they do not have a compelling reason to do so. Another reason you hear a “no decision” from a prospect is because they’re locked into an existing contract, or there’s some other roadblock. In the end, none of this matters. If they can’t give you their decision making timeline, ask yourself if you want to work with them. Are they worth your time?

The third piece you look for is if the prospect is willing to invest their time into the buying process. When a prospect is willing to spend some of their own time outside of the meeting on the buying process, you have someone who is engaged. I like to share key information or questions with the prospect outside of the sales call and ask for their input. Most likely, the prospect that’s motivated to work with you will respond in this kind of discussion. Ask yourself: would they choose to spend their time engaged with you if they weren’t interested in working with you? The answer is no.

Fourth, know who the players are in the decision-making process. This may sound simple, but too many salespeople spend way too much time with fake prospects who are just gathering information. These people ask good questions and they get involved, but when you go to close the sale, they tell you that they have to take it to others to make a decision. These people are not prospects; they are nothing more than a librarian who gathers information and shares it with someone else. You don’t have time for these people, because now you’re forced to make a double sale: sell to the librarian and then, the librarian sells to the decision maker(s).

The fifth and final way to help you find out if he/she is capable of being a qualified prospect is learning the prospect’s reasoning for buying. If you can’t uncover this in the prospecting phase, run for the door! All too often, salespeople spend a great deal of their time talking with nice people who are willing to meet. Sometimes, a lead may not immediately know their need; however, if your questions don’t point them in the direction of their need, it’s time to exit.

Over the next 5 weeks, I will dig deeper into each of these five points. Your ability to qualify leads fast will help you improve your sales pipeline more than anything else. It all comes down to how you choose to spend your time which must always yield the greatest return on your investment.

As we talk about this subject over the next 5 weeks, I suggest you take 2 important action steps. First, buy my book, High-Profit Prospecting – available in paperback, audiobook and Kindle. Second, join my High Profit Sales Coaching program here. I promise both will yield valuable results for you and your business.

Copyright 2019, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog. Mark Hunter is the author of High-Profit Prospecting: Powerful Strategies to Find the Best Leads and Drive Breakthrough Sales Result

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