Even the most brilliant sales pro can't sell to a prospect who isn't actually qualified to buy.
But that's exactly what too many sales teams are trying to do. They're pursuing bad-fit people who are not prepared to make a purchase from them.
This process of chasing unqualified leads and prospects costs a lot of time and resources. Fortunately, there's a simple solution for this.
This is where sales qualification is essential.
What Is Sales Qualification?
Sales qualification is a crucial part of the sales process where a sales representative asks key questions to determine whether or not a prospect is qualified to purchase the product or service they are selling.
Typically sales reps have an ideal customer profile to use as a tool for comparing ideal customer criteria to the prospect's characteristics that they exhibit. If they don't match well, the sales rep no longer tries to sell that particular prospect.
For salespeople to qualify prospects, they need to think about the four things that prospects consider before purchasing. These four sales qualifiers are:
- Budget: Does the prospect truly have the money available to pay for the solution?
- Authority: Is the prospect actually the decision maker for this type of purchase?
- Needs and Requirements: Can the solution deliver the kind of results the prospect expects?
- Timeline: Does the prospect want the solution within a reasonable span of time?
When the answer to all four of these core questions is yes, you have a fully qualified prospect. Life would be easier if you could limit your calls to four questions, of course – in the real world, there are more than four questions.
You must dig deeper to gauge a prospect's interest and willingness to purchase.
The Importance of Qualifying Prospects
Qualifying prospects is important because it helps you save time, resources, and money.
When you qualify prospects early on in the sales pipeline, it allows you to determine the following aspects:
- If the prospect is in the right industry and area to benefit from your product or services.
- If they have pain points your product or services can solve.
- If there is an opportunity to provide more value than your competitors.
- If the prospect is in the position to make a decision about purchasing your product or service.
Once you find out these aspects, you can disqualify the prospect and save time by qualifying others who appear to be more prepared to make a purchase. If they do qualify, then you have a greater chance of closing the deal.
The importance of qualifying leads lies in the ability to quickly determine the intent a person has to buy your product or services.
This can help make your sales reps more efficient, motivated, and productive since most of their time will be spent on people who are truly interested in doing business with you rather than spinning their wheels talking to people who will never close.
Now that you have a deeper understanding of the importance of qualifying prospects, you can now review some important sales qualification questions to ask during this process.
40 Sales Qualifying Questions to Ask Every Prospect
Here are 40 sales qualifying questions for you to look at that address each of the four sales qualifiers – budget, authority, need, and timeline.
1. How Did You Hear About Us?
This is an essential sales question because it helps you understand why the prospect is interested in what you're offering. It also reminds them of the reasons why they are taking the time to talk to you about your products or services.
You will ultimately learn if they were specifically searching for what you have or if they just happened upon your information.
Ask this question early on in the conversation to help you gain insights into the prospect's wants and needs, so you have an accurate idea of how to approach the conversation.
2. How Much Have You Spent on Similar Solutions in the Past?
The amount your prospects have spent on other solutions can help you gauge how much they are willing to spend on your product or service. It is important to know where your product or service falls on their predetermined price range.
If your price is above their range, then you will likely need to convince them that the value your product has outweighs the price.
3. Is Price a Major Factor in Your Decision?
If price is a major factor in decision making for a prospect, then you may begin by discussing their budget and your pricing options.
If the price is just too much for them, then no amount of value that they get out of the product is going to make a difference because they most likely won't purchase. Ask this question early on in your discovery to help disqualify prospects earlier to save time.
4. How Does This Solution Compare to Our Competitors?
Asking this question will help you to discover if your prospects have already considered other solutions from those in your industry.
This allows you to see how you measure up with the competition so you can provide your prospect even more value than your competitors can.
5. Have You Ever Considered Building Your Own Solution to the Problem You Are Currently Experiencing?
Sometimes prospects will consider developing their own solutions to their problems, but they want to call around to businesses first to get an idea of what the parameters are and how much it costs.
Asking this question gives you the opportunity to show them the benefits of using your solution rather than building their own. You might even give them examples you have about other customers who have attempted to make their own solutions, but soon realized it wasn't feasible for the long run.
6. Is There Anyone Else in Your Company You'd Like Me to Loop In?
This helps you understand who the key decision makers are in the buying process. You don't want to provide all the information to one person and then have to present all the same information to another person who is responsible for making the decision.
Asking this question will encourage the prospects to include other key decision makers in your meetings.
7. What Would an Ideal Solution to This Problem Look Like for You?
It is essential to know what exactly your prospects are looking for to help them the best way you possibly can. You don't want to focus on pitching key features of the products that are of no interest to them.
When you know what your prospect needs, you can spend time talking about the things that matter to them.
8. What Is Your Biggest Concern About How This Solution Will Work?
This question allows you to identify any potential objections so you can address them before you finish the entire pitch.
At this point, you may suggest conducting a demonstration to show your prospects exactly how the product or service works to help quiet their fears or concerns.
9. Which Metrics Would You Use to Evaluate the Success of This Solution?
If you know how your prospects will measure the effectiveness of your solution, there will be less surprises since both parties will have an understanding of the objectives and goals.
10. Who Needs to Be Brought up to Speed on This Solution First Thing?
It is likely that the solution you are selling will be used by multiple people. The prospect may need help explaining what the solution does and how it works to other employees who will be using the solution often.
11. What Motivated You to Find a Solution to This Problem Right Now?
This question helps you to open up communication between you and your prospect. It will provide you with an idea of their urgency when it comes to purchasing your solution.
12. How Long Do You Have Before You Need to Make a Final Decision?
The answer to this question will give you the opportunity to create urgency, and you can let the prospect know why they should act fast. If they aren't looking to purchase for a few months, then you can set follow-up dates accordingly.
13. How Much Do You Expect to Invest in a Solution?
This is a direct question to ask regarding the budget your prospect has. If you have tiered pricing for your solutions, you can help them to identify which features fit their budget.
14. Is There Anything Stopping You From Moving Forward With a Solution?
You can identify any objections and determine how serious a prospect is about purchasing your solution by asking this sales qualifying question.
A prospect who doesn't want to buy your product or service will let you know once you ask this question.
15. How Much Time Did It Take Your Company or Department to Buy a Similar Product?
This another great question to gauge your prospect's timeline for purchasing a product. This will provide you with an accurate idea of how long this particular prospect takes to purchase a solution.
If it is a couple of weeks or months, you can be sure to follow up with them to see where they are in their decision making process.
16. Do You Have the Resources and Time to Handle Implementation and Training?
Your solution may be the best thing for your prospect, but if they have no time to get your solution up and running, then they likely won't buy your product right away.
The answer to this question will give you an idea about the prospect's qualification and if you should continue following up with them or not.
17. What Concerns Do Your Decision Makers Have Regarding This Product or Service?
If your prospect is not the main decision maker, you may ask them this question to identify any future hurdles you will encounter when discussing the product or service with their key players in the decision making process.
This helps you stay prepared to address any and all concerns before they come up.
18. What Hurdles Could Come Up and Stop This Project?
Your prospect may have a pending deal or some other pending issues that could derail your deal or the current project they are working on. Being aware of these things could help you understand just how urgent your solution is to your prospect.
19. What Does Success With This Product or Service Look Like to You?
This question helps you to see what goals your prospect has when it comes to using your product or service. This way, you can show them information on how your solution can help them become successful.
If they can't determine the success your product or service will provide them, then it may not be the right solution for them.
20. Tell Me About the Average Day at Your Workplace, and Describe How Our Solution Would Impact Your Work.
Knowing what your prospect does and how they conduct business is important so you can understand how you can help them. Their answer to this will help you address their pain points to determine if what you offer works best for them.
21. Who Will Be Responsible for Implementing and Overseeing This Product or Service?
Find out who will be responsible for implementing and managing your solution. Set up a meeting with your prospect and the assigned responsible person to sell both of them on how it will benefit their company and job duties.
If you don't do this, then it is unlikely that the contract will be renewed due to poor implementation.
22. Have You Ever Invested in a Solution That Was More Than What You Could Afford? If So, How Did You Make Room for It in Your Budget?
The answer your prospect provides to this question will give you an idea about if they are willing to increase their budget. If they are willing to increase their budget, then they will likely need you to show them the value of doing so.
23. When Is the Best Date and Time to Schedule Our Next Meeting?
One meeting may not be enough to close a prospect or turn them into a lead. Try to set up another meeting with them to see if they are willing to talk further about what you have to offer.
If they aren't willing to set up another meeting, then they may not be interested, and you can disqualify them.
24. What Size Is Your Organization?
Determining the size of the prospect's organization helps you to gauge which products or services your prospects will need.
Once you know the size of the organization, you can tailor your pitch to fit those needs. If the size or scope of work doesn't fit within your offerings, you can then disqualify the prospect since what you have won't be what's best for them.
25. What Features Are Essential to You?
Not every feature you have will be good for every prospect. Identify what they need early on to sell them on the essentials first.
Then, you can try to upsell them on some things that could enhance their user experience. If none of the features you have are essential or necessary to them, then they may not be a qualified prospect.
There are plenty of other bits of information you need to uncover during your conversations. Here are 15 additional sales qualification questions you need to ask:
26. What are the three most important problems your solution should solve?
27. What are all the steps we have to take to help make this deal happen?
28. Is this a pain point for everyone on your team? Is there anyone who might serve as a barrier to this solution?
29. When was the last time your company made a purchase like this?
30. Who decided that this purchase needed to be made now?
31. Why do you need these particular features?
32. What would the consequences be if you weren't able to solve your issues with our solution?
33. Ideally, how soon do you want to see this problem taken care of?
34. What is the size of the department you'll be using this solution for?
35. How much do you expect total cost of ownership to be?
36. What is your ideal use case?
37. Based on what you've learned so far, do you think this offering is good for you and your business?
38. How will the results from this solution impact your bottom line?
39. Does anything we've talked about or agreed upon take you by surprise?
40. Is there anything preventing you from working with us at the moment?
Quick Tips to Enhance Your Discovery Call Strategy
Remember, the rapport you build while talking to your prospects is every bit as important as the answers to your questions.
Even if you suspect you're talking to the wrong person, always take the time to show a genuine interest in the other party. Listen carefully and ask plenty of open-ended questions – these will often yield insights you couldn't have planned for in advance.
Guide the conversation with your questions, but don't be afraid to let it range freely. If you're concerned about missing crucial details in a long talk, record each prospect conversation so you can review them later.
With persistence and consistent application, these sales questions will help you get where you want to go all the faster. If you notice that your prospects frequently come up short in one area or another, reflect those observations to your friends in marketing so your website can pre-qualify more effectively.
Good luck out there, and don't forget – question everything!
Erika is a Marketing Copywriter at Bluleadz. She is a huge fan of houseplants and podcasts about conspiracy theories. She spends most of her free time reading, writing, and enjoying the outdoors.