The Sales CatalystAre You Qualifying or Disqualifying?

This maybe one of the biggest challenges salespeople have and many don’t even realize it. Way too often when working with clients and I do a pipeline review, we discover that there are few truly qualified opportunities in their pipeline.

Let’s start with “why” to properly qualify. Time is a precious resource. If we are chasing after people that, in all likelihood, will never buy from us, it takes time and energy away from finding people who are a good fit for our products and services.  Why do we do this? Because having someone to talk to and having opportunities in our pipeline makes us feel good, even though it’s a false sense of security.

What usually happens is that on a sales call, if the potential buyer hints at all of having a problem we can solve, our emotions get the better of us and we get all excited thinking we have our next sale. Combined with a need to please others, we don’t ask the questions we need to ask.

Many times I’ve been on a sales call with a person on my team or a client and after the call when we are debriefing, they tell me all the reasons why the person is going to buy. I then ask, what about this? Did you hear them say that? Often times the salesperson doesn’t even hear the red flags. We hear what we want to hear and tune out the rest.

So what to do about it? Shift your thinking from “qualifying” to “disqualifying” an opportunity. That’s right- actively look for reasons to disqualify opportunities. Not everyone is a fit for what you offer. Don’t you want to know early on? When I made this shift years ago, it was a game changer for me. I became laser-focused on winnable opportunities. I established written criteria on what I was looking for and all the red flags that may have me disqualify an opportunity. I worked on fewer deals and my win rate went way up. A valuable exercise is to write down all potential red flags in a sales opportunity for what you sell. Having identified them in advance, you can now actively be on the lookout for them.

Another key component of qualification is leaving your need for approval and desire to please others out in your car. These are major inner roadblocks to asking the questions you’ll need to ask in order to qualify properly.

So what what’s in your pipeline? How do you qualify a sales opportunity?