“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” –Mark Twain
One of the biggest frustrations I hear from CEO’s and business owners about their sales efforts is that there are too many instances where opportunities on their sales team’s pipelines never turn into closed business on a timely basis. And too many times, it never converts at all.
Like Twain’s observation above, a small difference can make all the difference in the world. So in the world of sales, what’s the difference between a ‘qualified’ opportunity and a ‘not qualified’ opportunity? What process should a salesperson follow to determine whether a potential sale is ‘real’?
Here is where using a consultative sales approach can be invaluable.
A qualified sales opportunity would be the result of a salesperson having a conversation with the decision maker that was as deep and wide as possible.
A qualified sales opportunity would be the result of the salesperson asking many questions and employing great listening skills.
A qualified sales opportunity would be the result of a discussion of all the issues, opportunities, and implications facing the prospect.
A qualified sales opportunity would be the result of knowing what people inside the prospect organization would be impacted and how.
A qualified sales opportunity would be the result of knowing all the potential outcomes the prospect hopes to achieve.
And from the standpoint of a formalized, structured sales process, a qualified sales opportunity would be the result of knowing the prospect’s reasons for buying, uncovering an actual budget and learning the decision-making process.
The endpoint of this consultative conversation is a qualified prospect. Anything short of that and they’re still a suspect.
Keep in mind that when it comes to the skill set of converting predicted sales into closed deals in an appropriate time frame, a primary area to focus on is the development of your team’s qualifying skills.
High-achieving salespeople aren’t necessarily great ‘closers’ in the Glengarry Glen Ross sense of the term. Rather, high-achieving salespeople are terrific qualifiers!