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 are trying to do!
Sales qualification is a tricky process. Especially these days, it requires you to gather a lot of info about prospects indirectly: Reading between the lines based on which Web content they access.
When you land the chance to talk to a prospect person-to-person, it can truly be a relief. Finally, you have an opportunity to get real answers straight from the horse's mouth. Still, you have to know the right sales qualification questions to get you where you want to go.
For the most part, sales qualification comes in four parts:
- 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 / 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, you still have to do some detective work to ferret out what's going on behind the scenes.
It may take three, four, or five questions to verify your hunches in each of these four areas. Plus, you need to adapt to the conversation, with the many twists and turns it might present. When all is said and done, the best way to be prepared is to know the right sales qualification questions.
Let's look at some of them now:
“How much have you spent on similar solutions in the past?”
“How much do you expect to invest on a solution?”
“Is price a major factor in your decision?”
“How much do you expect Total Cost of Ownership to be?”
“Who decided that this purchase needed to be made now?”
“When was the last time your company made a purchase like this?”
“Is there anyone else in your company you'd like me to loop in?”
3. Needs / Requirements
“What would an ideal solution to this problem look like for you?”
“What is your biggest concern about how this solution will work?”
“What are the three most important problems your solution should solve?”
“Who needs to be brought up to speed on this solution first thing?”
“What motivated you to find a solution to this problem right now?”
“How long do you have before you need to make a final decision?”
“Ideally, how soon do you want to see this problem taken care of?”
“Is there anything stopping you from moving forward with a solution?”
Beyond Questioning: Quick Ways 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 for to review 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!