Chapter 58. Qualifying Your Sales Process

Rick Page

The Complex Sale

A key to success in business development, as in any strategic endeavor, is picking winnable battles. Realistically, of course, how you qualify prospective customers depends on how many opportunities you have in relation to the resources available to actually do the work. Salespeople with a full pipeline and more prospects than they can handle qualify prospects very differently than those who are just getting into the game at a lesser-known company or in a new territory. There is no universal model for qualifying prospects.

But where is the line between qualification and quitting? Or between a positive attitude and the rookie trait of overly optimistic "happy ears"? Successful selling involves asking some tough questions and being honest about the answers. Enthusiasm is essential to selling, but hope is not a credible sales strategy.

To qualify a prospect, the first question every salesperson should ask is, "Will this business happen for anyone at all?" Experience shows that many customer project evaluations don't ever result in an actual purchase.

When evaluations stall or collapse entirely, one of two things is usually missing: either there isn't a business problem of sufficient magnitude or urgency (pain), or the project lacks political sponsorship (power) to shepherd it to completion. In either case, a deal won't happen no matter how compelling your presentation.

If the prospect's intentions do seem credible, the ...

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