A sales opportunity doesn’t necessarily mean a sale. Unfortunately, many sales staffs, especially new ones who are eager to make a deal get overly excited that they forget about the bigger picture, which is compatibility, sustainability, and profitability. It is important that you take the time to qualify your leads to avoid wasting time on prospects who will not buy from you.

Qualifying a sales lead is a crucial element of any sales management strategy. It helps you land new business deals without wasting too much of your time and resources on the wrong tree. However, you need to take care not to push away potential clients by bombarding them with questions. Proper qualifying is an act of balancing between leaving enough time to build rapport without waiting too long that you waste everyone’s time.

How to qualify sales leads

Does the sales lead have the right budget? Just because someone needs a particular product does not mean that they can afford it. One of the main reasons why sales leads cannot become prospects is because of lack of financial capacity. It is common sense that a potential client that does not have the right budget cannot buy your product, regardless of how well you convince them. It is for this reason that sales management experts emphasize establishing a lead’s ability to buy. This way, you will not spend too much time trying to convince a prospect who cannot buy, regardless of how much they need.

Find out their needs and goals

The best sales professional does not sell; they help prospects see the need to buy. However, salespeople often jump into a cycle with the prospect and focus on a need they think is important to them as long as they can solve it. Unfortunately, this assumption is often a waste of time since the sales agent doesn’t know if another company is already addressing the need or whether the lead sees the urgency in solving the need.

When you do not understand your customer's urgent needs that should be solved, you risk pitching to them a product or service they do not see enough value behind. In the long run, they will not buy, and your sales team will have wasted precious time and energy where they could have used it to pursue qualified leads. It is crucial to have a high-level overview of the customer’s needs and goals. To qualify a lead, consider asking them the following questions;

• What is your biggest challenge at the moment?
• Is this a problem that you and your entire team feel is worth solving?
• What are the possible implications of not finding and implementing the right solution?

If your product is not solving a problem that a client is undergoing at the moment, and if you are not providing them with an answer to their current need, then do not count on making a sale with them.

Matching their goals to your abilities

Once you have a clear picture of the lead’s needs and goals, see if you can provide them with a unique solution that no one else can. If you can offer a unique solution, then this is a lead worth engaging in the full sales process. However, if you do not have a solution to their current need, you should consider dropping them, or you will only end up going in circles. Also, make sure the prospect is not using or committed to using a different method that offers the same features as yours to address the challenges that they have shared with you. To avoid falling into this trap, consider asking them the following questions:

• Have you tried solving this problem in the past?
• Do you have someone who is currently working on a solution?
• How have you tried addressing this issue?
• Are you currently in agreement with any other company?

Customer experience

What influence does the prospect have?

Sometimes, a prospect may not have the necessary authority to make a purchasing decision. This is an essential factor to consider as you do not want to spend a lot of time convincing them to make a decision when they do not have any influence over the process. Some of the questions you should consider asking them to know if they can make a purchasing decision include;

• Who else is involved in the purchasing decision?
• Are there any objections to this purchase you anticipate encountering?
• Have you made any purchasing decision on a similar product in the past?

At this stage, you should have established if the prospect has the need for which you have a unique solution, a sufficient budget that allows them to make the purchase and the authority to make this critical decision. Being able to qualify a lead before going into the proposal mode will help you make better use of your time and resources. It will also give you a chance to focus on qualified leads, which ultimately will lead to increased sales.