Abe Lincoln said if he had five hours to fell a tree he’d invest four of them in sharpening his axe.
Had he been a salesperson, given those same five hours, he’d develop and refine his prospecting list for four hours and do one hour of contact work.
Qualifying our potential customers is one of the main activities in which sellers engage, and for good reason. If we invest time with the wrong prospects:
(1) That time is utterly wasted. It can’t even be chalked up to “practice,” because practicing before fools is, well, foolish.
(2) It degrades our attitudes. When I pitch the wrong people, and by that I mean people who cannot buy or that definitely do not want or need to buy, I kick myself, knowing that I’ve needlessly exerted myself. Moreover, I’ve prostrated myself before losers, and that doesn’t feel good.
(3) Pitching the wrong people keeps us from finding and pitching the right ones.
Who then is a qualified buyer?
A qualified buyer is someone who is capable of saying:
(1) I have a need, and it’s important that I address it;
(2) I have the authority, the freedom, and the money to buy right now; and
(3) I’m willing to give you a fair chance to earn my business.
People without needs, or at least wants, are not qualified. They have no motivation to buy.
People who are not in positions of responsibility, and especially who aren’t in pain, that are quite happy with the current state of things, are not qualified.
For example, I sell customer service training and improvement programs. Most front-line service reps and their managers are not qualified to buy because they’re happy repeating and defending the status quo. They don’t want to change, and they resist change, so they’re precisely the wrong people to pitch, though, technically, they are close to the work I’ll be impacting.
Likewise, is a sales manager going to invite me to redesign his job, or to critique how he’s doing it?
Do your prospects have money, can they get it fast if they don’t, and can they freely spend or invest it?
If not, they’re not qualified.
You see where I’m going with this.
FEW people ARE qualified! Some are influencers, but they’re not deciders. In my experience, most influencers feel safer saying no to the new, than they do by embracing it.
Don’t bark up the wrong trees. Be like Lincoln, and sharpen your tools and your focus, and after doing so, go forth and sell!
Dr. Gary S. Goodman is the best-selling author of 12 books, over 600 articles, and the creator of numerous audio and video training programs, including “The Law of Large Numbers: How To Make Success Inevitable,” published by Nightingale-Conant-a favorite among salespeople and entrepreneurs. For information about booking Gary to speak at your next sales, customer service or management meeting, conference or convention, please address your inquiry to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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