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The Three Critical Areas To Explore When Qualifying Leads

Sales Opportunity Qualification is one of the most valuable skills for a professional salesperson to develop.

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Sales Opportunity Qualification is one of the most valuable skills for a professional salesperson to develop.

In this turbulent climate it is very tempting to chase down every deal on the prospect list. Even the ones that you know in your heart you have very little chance of winning. However, this can actually make matters worse by diverting sales effort away from the better deals and reducing your chances of winning those.

Too many salespeople chase large, time consuming deals that they have very little chance of winning. We do this because in a tough sales environment it naturally makes us feel better to go after every deal we come across – even when we know we shouldn’t!

This eats up productive selling time!

Salespeople can also often lose deals without knowing why. In many cases it could be that they simply failed to ask one straightforward question that would have flushed out an objection or a problem that could have been handled quite easily.

Using a Sales Opportunity Qualification Process will enable you to get a good perspective on where you stand with any sales opportunity, but it is particularly important for your larger deals. You must address and resolve these three most important issues before committing a lot of resource to a sales campaign:

1. Is it real for us?

Although there might be a genuine sales opportunity available – it might not be available to you or your company for a variety of reasons.

2. Do we want to win it?

  • What is the risk involved?
  • Will it take more work and effort than it’s worth?
  • Can we adequately resource the sale?

3. Can we win it?

  • Do we have the right solution?
  • Do we have a good relationship with the customer?
  • How strong is the competition?

This Qualification Process will help you answer these questions and tell you when you have what I call ‘Red Flag’ issues to resolve.

Sales Opportunity Qualification is a critical and unequivocal process. You must answer: ‘Yes’, ‘Don’t Know’ or ‘No’ with complete honesty for all the questions in each section.

If you have Red Flag issues then sales activity is required

Wherever you have answered ‘No’ or ‘Don’t Know’ to a question, you have uncovered a Red Flag issue that could potentially stop you from winning the sale. You need to stop and think about what sales activities and sales calls you must undertake to get a ‘Yes’ response to those questions and get yourself into a winning position.

If there are too many Red Flag issues, you may decide that you just won’t have enough time to resolve all of them before the sale is due to close. In those circumstances you might need to consider negotiating for more time. Or you may feel that it is just not worth chasing because it will involve more effort than the sale is worth to you. If so, you will have saved yourself a lot of wasted time that you can invest in finding a better sales opportunity.

Here are the 27 critical qualification questions you must answer:

Is it real for us?

The Decision to Change

  • Do they have a compelling reason to change?
  • Is there Senior Executive support for the need to change?
  • Have they discounted a ‘do nothing’ option?

The Money

  • Have they explained the cost justification for this project?
  • Do they have an approved budget for this project?
  • Are our costs within their budget?

The Timeframe

  • Have we agreed a decision process timeline with them?
  • Does the decision process timeline suit us?
  • Have they allocated enough time to evaluate our proposal in detail?
  • Can we meet their delivery and implementation timescales?

The Commercial Reality

  • Have they accepted our commercial terms and conditions?
  • Are we compliant with all of their mandatory requirements?
  • Do we have our company’s approval to submit a proposal or a quotation?

Do we want to win it?

The Risk versus the Gain

  • Is the value of the sale enough for the effort involved?
  • Will implementation be straightforward?
  • Can we adequately resource the sales campaign?

Can we win it?

The Solution

  • Are any of our unique features and benefits in their decision criteria?
  • Do the Key Influencers favour our solution?
  • Have we aligned our solution to their Key Business Drivers and Critical Success Factors?
  • Are we proposing a low or reasonable risk solution?

The Relationship

  • Do we have a good relationship track record with them?
  • Do we have good access to the decision-makers?
  • Do we have a well-placed Coach?
  • Are we allowed to ‘sell’ to all the Key Influencers on this project?

The Competition

  • Do we know which of the competitors are favoured by the customer?
  • Do we know the strengths and weaknesses of the main competitors?
  • Do we know the sales strategies of the main competitors?

There are three parts to the Sales Opportunity Qualification Process:

1. Gaining an accurate perspective on a sales opportunity by answering all of the Qualification Questions with complete honesty.

2. Developing all of the sales activities and sales calls that are still necessary to get you into a winning position for the opportunity.

3. Early identification and elimination of the deals you can’t win and the ones you don’t want to win!

Use this Qualifying Large Sales Opportunities Process to dramatically improve your chances of winning the significant sales opportunities on your prospect list that you choose to go after – and stop chasing the ones you are unlikely to win or don’t want to win.


Sales articles contributed by NZ Sales Manager e-magazine.

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