Three Most Effective Qualifying Questions You Have to Ask
It’s too hard to find good people these days, so you can’t afford not to be picky.
That’s why it’s even more important to qualify your prospects now than when the economy was booming.
Prospects are more than happy to help you identify which ones have the potential for a good fit.
Your customers are under just as much pressure, so it’s time to be more understanding of their needs. They’re working remotely, they’ve had enough of Zoom meetings and they have strict instructions not to spend any money while also fixing new problems that land on their desk.
Prospects don’t want to waste their time, so it is best that you ask the right qualifying questions. This way, they will be able to tell you why a deal won’t work out and find hidden gems.
Qualifying Question #1: Roadmap
Asking this first qualifying questions early in discovery will help you weed out any bad deals.
Once you’ve discussed their challenges, given your commercial insights, and proposed how to fix it with your solution, ask them this:
“I think we can help. Would you like to see how it works and what our experience has been with implementing something similar for another client in a similar situation?”
There are two potential outcomes to this conversation.
They say “no”
In asking qualifying questions,there is always a chance that the prospect says they are not interested in hearing about how you would fix their problem.
This is a good thing because you’ve stopped yourself from wasting time and resources. You also prevented them from making the mistake of buying before they were ready.
If they say no at this point, you either need to talk with someone else or find out why your solution doesn’t align with their problem.
It’s up to the salesperson to figure out what they should do next.
If you’re on a discovery call, don’t waste their time. You have at least 30 minutes of it.
If you want to know why someone isn’t interested in your offer, ask them at the end of a meeting. This gives you time for discovery and also allows employees to reconsider their decision.
They say “yes”
If they say, “Sure. I’m curious about how it works,” that’s great news because you have buyer-signal and explicit permission to move forward.
But you haven’t given them much work to do yet, and it’s not a solid signal of your trust in their abilities.
Walk them through your plan, from the present to when their problem will be solved.
They should be able to show the plan they created for their boss. Include real calendar dates so it is clear how long each task will take and when milestones are supposed to occur.
If you want to be a good manager, the important thing is instilling confidence in your employees. You have to show them that you know what they are doing wrong and how to fix it.
This is your opportunity to tell the recruiter what makes you different from all of the other candidates.
Qualifying Question 2: A Personalized Plan
Once you have shown the high-level plan of how to fix their problem, ask them what they think.
This is one of the qualifying questions I asked myself when I was making this presentation. It’s a good thing you came to see me today, because if not, then we wouldn’t be able to do anything about it.
They say “no”
If they say no, don’t take it personally. They are telling you that perhaps your idea needs some work.
But you’ve been given the opportunity to have a productive conversation with them.
Is your company too set in its ways to change?
Do you have any other points to make?
What is the value proposition?
Is the timing bad?
If they’re not ready for a personalized plan, talk with them and see what the issue is. If it’s an easy fix, then do that. But if they’re just uninterested in your program altogether, consider them disqualified and put them back into the nurturing sequence.
They say “yes”
If you get to this point, then it’s time for deep discovery qualifying questions. These are the details that show whether or not a deal will work out.
These are qualifying questions like:
“That’s cool. We know most customers want a security audit before moving forward with the pilot, so our head of technical implementation will be there to help you out. Who is your point-person for security? Paul? Great! Let’s get him involved too.
“How does your team typically handle procurement?”
“What other people need to be involved in this deal?”
Article: “I don’t want it to happen again. I’m sorry, but can you tell me why he did that?”
Qualifying Question 3: Staying on the Right Track
By this point, you should have a plan that both sides agree with.
But being qualified isn’t a static state. So, now it is your responsibility to hold them accountable and if anything changes in the future, ask another disqualifying question.
We’ve lost our focus. We need to figure out what we want and get back on track.
They say “no”
If they’re unwilling to talk, or if you can’t come up with a mutual plan for future action, then it’s not worth pursuing the deal. That’s ok.
It’s better to disqualify now than keep waiting for the close date, which is two months away.
Before you close out the deal in CRM, make sure to learn two things.
Was it ever real?
Did you make an error in your earlier assessment? Did the qualifying question not go deep enough to unearth what was really going on?
Did the deal just get delayed? Or is it really dead this time?”
If they always say “at this time” when you ask them if, for example, they’re interested in your product and might buy it someday soon–they may just be trying to let you down easy or avoid an awkward conversation.
Don’t let them off easy. If it is a timing issue, then try to find out what might be different later and schedule an appointment.
Keep them in a sequence that’s been planned, but don’t count on it until you have new MAP up and running.
If it’s dead, then there is no deal and you need to let it go.
They say “yes”
Ideally, you’ve built up enough trust with the customer that they will talk to you. Pull out your plan and reaffirm what value proposition is most important to them.
When you reset the plan, it’s a way to get people back on track. You can be confident in your new hires from this point forward.
Words Are Crucial
It’s important to be accurate when you refer to prospects who are not qualified for the job.
When you disqualify a prospect, it’s not that they’re going to be your next client. There was never any deal.
It’s not impossible to lose a deal. There are many ways you can lose one, such as if you don’t call back in time or fail to address an objection.
But if you realize that the person who was in your office wasn’t serious, don’t be discouraged. You confirmed there is no deal and won back some time to work on other prospects or focus on existing clients.
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