There is truth in the statement that the better an opportunity is qualified, the higher the chances of bringing it in as a closed sale.
For those opportunities that aren’t actually qualified, better qualification routinely performed as part of pipeline management means plentiful time saved for salespeople; they won’t be chasing down deals that will never happen.
If your sales force seems to pursue a high percentage of sales that don’t close, proper qualifying could be the problem. Here are 4 questions that, if fully answered, will greatly refine and make consistent your qualification of sales opportunities:
#1: Is There an Opportunity?
For this basic step you want to find out, first, if there are key business issues that your product or service will solve. This step means defining such issues as clearly as possible—which of course will highlight the level of benefit your product or service would provide.
Availability of funds is of course a primary part of this first step. In addition to this it’s a good idea to find out the priority level of your potential sale/their potential purchase, along with the general financial health of the company.
#2: Is It Worth Winning?
The answers to this question relate to your company’s role in the sale. If the deal won’t be beneficial and profitable it certainly isn’t worth pursuing.
For this step you want to focus on the potential profitability of this deal for your company. You’ll want to take into account the possibility of future business, and how the potential sale benefits your own company’s strategy.
Another factor to take into account in answering this question is the risk factor. This would include the possibility of a competitor or even the company themselves solving the issue in such a way that you lose the sale. It would also need to take into account your company’s capacity to deliver on time, and the potential success of your solution in solving your target company’s problems.
#3: Do We Understand the Decision Making Process?
This is certainly an issue that can greatly affect a sale. You may be dealing with someone that has no effect at all in the decision-making process of the company—and if so, you’ve got to find out who exactly does, and what their role or roles are. Is it possible to directly contact those decision makers, and if so how?
Part of this step involves discovering what motivates those decision makers. This can and often does loop back to the first step above—as the issues the target company is attempting to solve are often the motivation for purchase.
#4: Do We Understand the Competitive Situation?
In answering this question you of course must know as much as possible about your competitors, and their strengths and weaknesses in solving your prospect company’s issues.
But most importantly, in competing with others for the sale you must make as many strides as possible in solidifying the relationship with your prospect company. This means raising their understanding as to the benefits of your product or service. It means forging relationships with target company decision-makers that can withstand pitches from the competition.
Free Opportunity Qualifier Tool
To help you navigate the opportunity qualifying waters as part of pipeline management, we are offering a free opportunity qualifying toolkit. Included is an Opportunity Qualification Scorecard, which walks though through the above questions in detail, and can be utilized for each sale that is in progress.
In the next series of articles, we will also be exploring each of these topics in greater length.
In the longer term this type of information should be made part and parcel of your sales process and your CRM solution—for only then will your sales force be able to proceed with confidence through every sale.
Make detailed qualifying of opportunities part and parcel of your pipeline management—and significantly raise your success rates as you do.
Click here to download your free opportunity evaluation tool.