SalesAugust 31, 2022by khalid0

Sales qualification: Step–by step guide and important questions

The entire sales prospecting and closing process is a tedious cycle performed by a salesman. Now, imagine yourself chasing a prospect, putting in your valuable time and resources and the prospect does not convert, probably because he is not interested. Sounds like a disaster, right? This is where sales qualification steps in. Few sales qualification questions can save your efforts and time and ensure highly convertible prospects for your sales process.

Let’s learn in-depth about sales qualifications: definition, need, and stages.

 

What is Sales Qualification?

Sales Qualification refers to identifying and shortlisting the best prospective customers from the pool of collected prospects based on their probability of conversion.

This means filtering those prospects who genuinely benefit from your business and match your ideal customer profile. They find solutions to their pain point in your product; hence they are truly interested and willing to join the sales pipeline.

Sales qualification begins at the dawn of sales prospecting, prior to handing over prospects to AEs by Sales Reps. It is carried out by Sales reps via cold calls and other channels like LinkedIn, Instagram, email, etc which are more ice-breaking. It’s important to qualify inbound leads as well. Though they demonstrated interest in your business that does not guarantee successful pipeline placement.

 

IMPORTANCE OF SALES QUALIFICATION

Let’s answer why you need sales qualification as a necessary task in your sales procedure. It’s important to know whether the road you chose leads to the destination or a dead end. The destination here is to identify which prospects are likely to convert and place high-quality prospects in your sale pipeline. David Martirosian, Co-founder of Big Time Closer quoted, “You need to be able to separate ‘This prospect sounded like a great leader’ vs. ‘this prospect is a great leader because they ticked all the boxes.’”  If sales reps and AEs blindly keep investing time and effort in unfruitful prospects, then the efficiency of your business will suffer.

Sales Qualification aware you and your prospect that whether your service and their pain are complementing each other or not.  It gives you clarity on whether pursuing a prospect further will be worth it or a waste.

Sales Qualification also helps to find your segment or niche of customer group, so that you target similar prospects in the future and provide a customized experience.

Now, we dive right into the step-by-step guide to sales qualification.

 

STAGES OF SALES QUALIFICATION

As stated earlier, sales qualification commences at the early stage of prospecting, as it provides filtration of huge prospect and lead populations.

Here is a step-by-step guide to kickstart your sales qualification today:

  1. Build your ICP and Buyer Persona

Define your Ideal Customer Persona and Buyer Persona to cross-check your prospects. ICP helps you to set standards for your client. Any prospect close to the benchmark will be worth pursuing. Compare firmographics to find businesses that benefit from you. Study the business, objectives, needs, and problems and they can find solutions in your business. Notice similarities and variations between different prospects and collect positive ones.

All this helps AEs and Sales Reps to identify the best-fit prospect and personalize the business service accordingly, giving a higher success rate.

  1. Set Benchmarks For Qualification

Determine and fix certain criteria applicable for all prospects to qualify as a profitable opportunity. Simply put, you need to create a checklist. The sales reps will use this checklist to evaluate the inbound and outbound leads before placing them in the sales pipeline.

  1. Organize your Tech Tools

Keep your tech stack ready as it comes in handy while performing the following functions:

  • Managing and Tracking sales activities
  • Evaluating prospects
  • Identifying, verifying, and storing prospects’ information details
  • Setting up a scoring system for inbound leads
  • Automation of repetitive actions like follow-ups.
  1. Research Prospects

Advanced Technology has enabled us to find every detail about someone or something over the internet. Use websites, social media, news, etc to know more about a prospect. The gathered insights will help in tailoring the outreach program, personalizing conversations, and increasing the likeliness of their interest and conversion.

  1. Outreach Action

Once you are enlightened with the prospect’s identity tip to toe, it’s time to make the first move and contact them. The medium of qualification can be cold calls(most common) or other social handles.

The important motives of outreach should be:

  • Figuring out the pain point
  • Collect technographic and infographic data
  • Note the need and budget capability.
  • Guide the decision making
  • Discover their solution in your services.

As you achieve the last point, the prospect is directed toward sales discovery questions.

  1. Decide Further plan of action

It’s not a rule that one single cold can or should give you 100% clarity. You need to research, reanalyze and recollect more in-depth insights if the situation is still hazy. The first cold call, usually, is limited to avoid perplexing the prospect with sales discovery questions. It contains general questions.

Thus, you need to arrange a second call with more profound and demanding questions. It may also happen that you start a cold call with one person and carry forward with the final decision maker. There is the probability of one person saying no and another person saying yes to the same company too. So, don’t give up on the first call. A first cold call is seldom sufficient. Well-qualified prospects who are not willing to join you should also be followed up from time to time.

 

POPULAR SALES QUALIFICATION FRAMEWORKS

Every business has a different sales cycle; thus, frameworks also vary. Having said that, it’s also true that dealing with every customer demands a unique presentation, but all victory deals are similar somehow. Using frameworks can help identify those certain characteristics.

Some common sales qualification frameworks with the arranged chronology of actions are:

  1. BANT- Budget, Authority, Need, Timeline
  2. ANUM- Authority, Need, Urgency, Money
  3. SPICED- It is half n half sales qualification and discovery framework expanding as Situation, Pain, Impact, Critical Event, Decision.
  4. CHAMP- Challenges, Authority, Money, Prioritization.
  5. FAINT- Funds, Authority, Interest, Needs, Timing.

Need is the most helpful and prime criterion of any framework. It alone sometimes is enough to engage a prospect and ensure conversion. Try to find other aspects too for better information

 

LIST OF QUESTIONS TO ASK IN SALES QUALIFICATION

As the ritual goes on, we again state that there is no hard and fast rule to stick to a constraint for asking questions. Questions need to be personalized and customized according to business and prospect.

 

Some useful tips for engaging in conversation are:
  • Maintain an 80:20 conversation ratio. Listen to the prospect more and speak less. It makes them feel valued.
  • Minimize close-ended questions which have only two possible replies yes/no.
  • Ask more open end questions as they probe the prospect to spill more gems of information.
  • Customize questions on spot, if you notice a behavioral pattern.

Some important questions are:

  1. Technographic Questions
  • Have you used (your company name and service)?
  • Which service do you prefer for (activity/action)
  1. Firmographic questions
  • How many employees are in your firm?
  • How many (designation) work in your (particular department)?
  1. Identification Questions for Needs, Pains, Challenges
  • Many companies of your industry criteria avail of these services to combat ( any challenge). Do you also?
  • We are aware of some common problems like (pain). Do you face them as well?
  • How are you dealing with(pain)?
  • Is the ( solution) solving your problem?
  • How much time is going on (problem)
  • How do you think (the problem) can be solved?
  • If your (problem/pain) is solved, what advantages will you get?
  1. Budget Planning Questions
  • Have you thought of a budget for (your solution)
  • Is your (need) a priority to be tackled as soon as possible?
  • Are there other areas that you are funding?
  • What affects your budget?
  • The cost of (your product/service) is (amount); Is it feasible for you?
  1. Decision-Based Questions
  • How are the decisions about these business deals made?
  • How did you make purchase decisions in past?
  • Who are the people involved in making the final decision?
  • Is there anyone else aware of this conversation?
  • Should I talk to any other related person?
  • Is there anybody who will join us at the next meeting?
  1. Time And Urgency Based Questions
  • How urgently do you need to solve (the problem)?
  • What else is on the priority list?
  • Do you have alternate options?
  • Can you start immediately with us?
  • When will you implement the (solution) plan?
  • Do you have all resources to begin the plan?
  • Will delay affect your business?
  • When are you planning to implement (your product/service)
  • If we provide an accurate solution to (pain), will you be ready immediately?

 

THAT, S ALL FOLKS!

Sales Qualification is a conservative method to increase the number of quality prospects and confirm their conversion with a higher rate of accuracy. It’s important to qualify sales so that your sales team maintains the efficiency of operations. Sales Qualification is a beginning stage activity and starts off early with ICP formation. The frameworks are useful in carrying out sales qualifications smoothly. Be careful during reaching out and slowly drive the rhythm and depth of questions to avoid overwhelming your prospect.

If performed with caution, sales qualification can benefit a business in multiple ways.

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