Generating leads is job one. Qualifying them is job two. Unless you know a lead is a potential client, you could spend weeks or months pursuing what looks like an opportunity, only for it to fall apart. Save yourself time and stress early on, with an efficient qualification process.
Start with asking the right questions. We’ve put together a list of 17 questions to ask during the qualifying process, to see whether a potential client is a good fit. Of course, there are hundreds of others - depending on the relationship with your potential client and how conversations progress; here are 17 to get the ball rolling.
17 Sales Qualifying Questions
#1: What problem are you trying to solve?
Implementing something new either comes about because of a new need, such as a client to look after that needs something different than a company would normally offer. Or a company needs to find a solution for a problem they are having. Either way, change isn’t easy - and the larger the business the slower they are willing to implement new practices, technologies or work with new providers.
So the first crucial step is to establish the business pain point and whether what you are selling could solve it.
#2: What has prompted you to solve this problem?
Going back to the fact that change isn’t easy, has there been a trigger event? A change in leadership, market share, revenue (up or down), legal problem, or something else. Understanding what has brought about this need will help you determine how urgent the solution is needed, how important it’s seen internally, and whether you can solve it.
#3: What roadblocks have you encountered trying to solve it so far?
When it comes to long-running challenges, a company may have tried multiple solutions. If they’re looking for something new, something hasn’t worked as it should. Seek to capitalize on this opportunity. But first, dig into the what and why, find out why something else hasn’t worked and check you aren’t going to encounter similar challenges.
#4: What happens if it isn’t solved?
If a prospect doesn’t sound too concerned if a problem goes unsolved, then there is no pressing need. Only if a prospect talks about a pressing needs is it viable. An alternative route, is to compare a prospect with clients you already have and talk about the positive impact of implementing a similar solution compared to the dangers of not doing so.
#5: Do you have a budget for a solution?
Qualifying whether a prospect has a budget early on is crucial. Otherwise it’s going to be a huge waste of time. Check if they have a budget and whether what you are selling is what they can afford. If they only have $100 per month and your solution is $1500, this sale isn’t going down.
#6: What kind of timescale are you looking to implement?
Urgency is good. Not so little time that it isn’t achievable, but not so laid back that there isn’t any urgency to what they need. Without a sense of urgency, of importance, this might turn out to be a lead that isn’t worth pursuing.
#7: Who needs to sign off on the budget?
Ideally, you should know whether you are speaking with a budget holder or decision maker. Or failing that, someone who can influence a budget holder and make a case for this solution. Having a clear idea of the budgetary and sign-off process should help shape timescales and next steps.
#8: Have you ever used a similar solution, and if so, what happened?
Now is a good chance to know whether they’ve ever worked with a competitor, or whether something is still in place. Find out now, to save stress and time later on. If they have used something similar and weren’t happy, find out why and see whether you can solve this problem more effectively.
#9: What could derail this solution being implemented?
Understanding internal roadblocks is as important as seeing if a prospect has a budget. Too many roadblocks might mean this prospect isn’t worth pursuing.
#10: Are you looking at other similar solutions?
This question should give you a sense of what they are looking at, what they’re willing to spend and whether this is a competitive fight for budget. You might be the front runner. Or they might have one in mind and you are being brought in to lower the price; finding out now will save time later on.
#11: What do you personally gain or lose if this is solved, or isn’t solved?
In any organization, everyone has a personal stake in projects and outcomes. Ask them what it means to them, personally, for their career? A personal, professional stake in the outcome is a positive motivating factor in every negotiation.
#12: Based on what we’ve talked about so far, does our solution solve this problem for you?
This is a real litmus test: Does it solve these problems are not? It gets you closer to the final yes or no question as to whether they want to go ahead, if they have a budget, and what you need to do to close the deal?
#13: Who will you be working with on implementation internally, do they also need to sign-off?
It is always useful to know, especially with big complex problems, what internal resources they have to implement. Is it one guy and he’s really busy? Or do they have the right resources in place to go ahead? And if not, this might represent a chance to offer training and other support.
#14: Tell me about those who will be using this and how this could impact their average workloads?
Getting a sense of this will help you craft a proposal, plus it will shape any training and support you might need to offer. If the person you are talking to won’t be using a solution every day, now might be a great chance to suggest a quick online demo with end-users.
#15: If you already have a solution in place, are you switching fully or using two solutions/providers alongside one another?
It always pays dividends to have a clear picture of the landscape: are they already using a competitor? Or is this conversation about something entirely new? If there are existing solutions or providers in place, it’s useful to know whether contracts are in place and if there might be new complications down the road.
#16: Do you have senior/owner or C-suite support for implementing this solution?
It always makes new projects or solutions run smoother when someone has the right level of senior support behind them. Depending, of course, on the importance of this project and respective budgets being discussed. It is a red flag if they’re looking for a high-end solution without a senior manager backing them up.
#17: Are you happy to move forward as we have discussed?
Providing a conversation has gone well, have a clear plan you both agree on to move forward. Map this out and confirm everything, then follow-up after the meeting as you agreed.
Qualifying questions are a crucial part of every sales conversation. These help you decide whether a prospect is real and viable, or if they’re going to be a waste of time. Use these wisely, and whenever possible, have a live online demo to dive into them more easily.