It doesn’t matter whether you sell a tangible product or an intangible service, you must have good, qualified prospects to succeed. But, do you know what a prospect is? Better yet, do you know what constitutes a good, qualified prospect?
Wikipedia (not necessarily my favorite source) defines a qualified prospect as: an organization which has expressed the need for the products or services of the seller.
Really? As much as I hate to disagree with “Wiki”, just because someone has expressed a need for your product or service, does not make them a qualified prospect.
Au contraire mon fraire!
If you’re a true professional, the first question you must ask yourself (and your potential prospect) is whether you can fill the need they’ve expressed. If you can’t, they aren’t a good, qualified prospect—even though they’ve “expressed the need for the products or services”.
If you can fill their need or solve their problem, you have a prospect. But, you’ve got more work to do in order to determine if they are qualified or not.
This is done by questioning. Yes, the lost art of asking good, qualifying questions.
What will the product be used for? What are the prospects expectations of the product and how it will perform? Can and will they be able to afford a product that fills all their needs.
These are just a few of the questions one must ask in order to first determine if someone is truly a good, qualified prospect.
And, we haven’t even gotten into the presentation yet.
Are there “hidden” issues that would prohibit the potential prospect from becoming a customer? For example, are they currently doing business with a family member or close personal friend that is always going to get the benefit of the doubt?
The bottom line is this: There is much, much more to a good, qualified prospect that someone who has simply expressed a need in your product or service.
The better questions you ask, the more “detective” work you do, the more information you uncover, the more likely you are to find the prospects true need (or want). And then—and only then, will you be able to fill it.
Lagniappe: In South Louisiana “Lagniappe” is defined as “a little something extra”. Here’s your Lagniappe for today:
Make sure you are talking to THE decision maker or makers. It is OK to ask, “If we’re able to put together a program that fits your needs, who else would be involved in the budgeting process.” This flushes out other decision makers and can lead to more information regarding the budget for the project or product.
I’d love to hear from you on questions you use to qualify prospects.