Five Criteria to Qualify a Prospect

Prospecting is an important part of finding customers. You must understand that not everyone is a customer for your business. So how do you know who is and who isn’t? Your company needs to create its sales funnel and correctly qualify leads turning them into prospects, and then customers.

By using the five criteria, you can save time so that you don’t “put all your eggs in one basket” as the saying goes. If the lead doesn’t meet the criteria, it’s time to remove them from the sales funnel and begin working other leads.

There are five important qualifying criteria that your business can use to turn leads into prospects. Ask yourself (maybe even the lead) these questions to value both your time and the leads.

1. Does a want or need exist?

Plain and simple: customers buy to satisfy a need. If they do not want or need the product or service you’re selling don’t waste your time trying to convince them that they need it. This is one of the most important qualifying aspects to turning a lead into prospect because it’s a simple yes or no. You can find out pretty quickly by asking the lead questions such as “do you think this product would benefit your business?” and “can you see how this would better improve your processes?” When answered, you will be able to gauge whether the lead really doesn’t have a need for the product/service or if they just can’t see the benefits yet.

2. Does the lead have the ability to pay?

This includes both cash and credit. If the lead can’t purchase your product or service right away, can you help them get financed for it? One way to find out is to simply ask, “if you move forward, will you be making this purchase with cash or credit?” Another way to discover a leads financial status is to search in local credit agencies databases and look at their Better Business Bureau ratings. Again, if the lead simply can’t afford your product or service, they are not a good prospect nor customers for your business.

3. Does the lead have the authority to buy?

This is important because if you aren’t talking to the person who makes the decisions you can waste time. It doesn’t matter how much the non-decision maker likes the product or service if the person in charge doesn’t. Ultimately, it’s a no go. You want to get to this shortly into your sales pitch so that you don’t go the whole meeting talking about the benefits and matching them to the company if that individual isn’t the decision maker. Simply ask the lead “does anyone else need to be at this meeting or are you able to make the final decision on your own?”

4. Can the lead be approached favorably?

Some companies who may look like a good lead or future customer may be so big that the decision maker isn’t accessible to meet with. If it’s too difficult to meet with them, then the consumer should be removed from your sales funnel. It most likely isn’t worth the time chasing a decision maker.

5. Is the lead eligible to buy?

This doesn’t apply to every product or service. Some products simply have geographic or demographic restrictions. For example, if you sell a certain type of insurance, you may only be selling to 50+ year olds. Therefore, you will have to qualify them by making sure they meet the eligibility requirements.

While there may be other criteria specific to qualifying a prospect for your company, these are the basic 5 that can really help you as a salesperson. By answering the questions, you can gauge where you stand with a lead and determine whether they should move thru the sales funnel or not.

Rebekah A. Dull, BA
Digital Strategist
Consulting | Marketing | Websites

Source: Essentials of Marketing, William Perreault, Jr. and Joseph Cannon and E. Jerome McCarthy