Salespeople, by trade, are usually quite optimistic. We're determined, visionaries, and persistent. That's what makes us good, but it can also hold us back. Pursuing prospects takes a lot of time and energy, and going after the wrong people can dramatically inhibit company growth.
A friend of mine, Janice Mars, founder of SalesLatitude, gave me three simple questions that can help you quickly determine whether they are worth your time investment or not. The faster you can qualify prospects, the faster you can fill your pipeline with high-quality sales opportunities.
1. Who is Your Target Niche?
You can't qualify a prospect if everyone is a prospect. You need to focus on the ideal type of customer that can get maximum value from your product or service. Some basic qualifying criteria might be industry, location, annual revenue and the number of employees. Taking a more targeted approach makes it easier to sell the right stuff to the right people.
Developing your target sounds easy enough, but it actually can be difficult. Check out our Buyer Persona Worksheet - it can help you identify your ideal customer profile.
2. Is There a Need?
Once you have a general idea of your target niche, it's time to narrow things down even more. Just because someone fits into your general niche criteria doesn't mean they require your service. In our case, for example, if a company in our niche already has a strong online presence, consistent growth, and available resources to do inbound marketing well, then they obviously don't need our services.
On the flip side, if we come across a company that has a dated website, no blog or email marketing, and mostly self-promotional social media posts, they have a need for our services.
3. Is It a Priority?
It's important to remember: even when there is a need, it might not be a priority.
For example, let's say I come across a company that fits the "need" criteria - they have a marginal website and aren't doing much in the way of inbound marketing. However, their business is currently booming, and they can barely handle all of the work they're currently getting. They're totally swamped, and can't take on more with their current set up. In that case, it doesn't make sense to invest in new growth strategies until they figure out how to scale to the next level. So while there is an opportunity for me to provide services, it's not what they need right now.
On the flip side, I might get a prospect who has the capacity and desire to grow. They want to figure how to get more qualified sales leads and shorten the sales cycle. They fit into the niche, have a need, and it is a priority. Check, check, and check!
Janice said something to me that really hit home for me: "Krista, you're not the one buying!" So yes, I can find companies all day long that I feel strongly could use our services and get results. But, if it's not a priority for them for whatever reason, they aren't a qualified prospect.
Important note: That's not saying to forget them forever - the timing may just be bad. Put them on the "lead nurturing" list and use inbound marketing strategies, to further develop the relationship until they're ready.
Win Fast, Lose Early
I'll admit that one of my downfalls is that I don't give up. If there is a prospect I know I can help, I feel like I should move heaven and earth to try to convince them to work with me. It's hard to let go of potentially good customers!
Our time is our most valuable asset. What Janice reinforced to me during our conversation is to qualify quickly and move on.
SalesLatitude is a sales consulting firm that offers companies sales performance improvement solutions to make their selling teams more successful. They help identify and execute sales enablement programs that help companies to achieve more consistent results.