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Wednesday 28 October 2020

8 Questions That Filter Fake Prospects From Your Pipeline to Close More Sales

The bread and butter of a salesperson is a well-managed pipeline. Poorly managed pipelines affect deal closure and make it challenging to estimate accurate sales forecasts. Poor prospecting ends with prospects in the pipeline which aren't actually prospects to begin with, they're not going anywhere.

When a pipeline is filled with leads that are not ready to buy or will never convert into customers, it's near impossible for salespersons to focus their time on the right leads.

Here we'll explore on how a salesperson can uncover an actual prospect by asking the right 8 questions when interviewing the customer and asking themselves during the sales process to help qualify leads.

Don't be misled, even if a prospect works for a decision-maker who's browsing the market on their behalf, is a decision-maker, or an influencer of the final decision-maker, this may not be an actual prospect for the salesperson.

Even if someone calls you first, but you've had no history of contact with them, and no matter their level of interest, they provide no buying timeline and don't divulge information that would help you guide them down the right path.

A true prospect is someone you've connected with and know their pain points. Also during the conversation they can give you proprietary information that gives insight into their situation and why they're considering your service, along with potential timelines and financial information.

Key Differences Between Suspects and Prospects

Let's summarise the key differences between suspects and prospects; who they may be in relation to your business.

Suspect Prospect
Match the traits of someone that might buy Match your ideal customer profile
Doesn't share proprietary information in any conversations Willing to share personal information about their situation
Only engage with you when it's safe Engage with you and your business consistently
An everyday person that doesn't have power to make final decisions A decision maker. Someone who's going to make the purchase

Let's Dive In

Here's 8 Questions you should definitely ask as a salesperson to learn to filter down your pipeline with true prospects.

1. Have they tried to address their pain points?

Understanding how a client has come to be in conversation with you can give you valuable insight into their position as a prospect. When asked this question, a client is more likely to provide you with the information you need to understand more about their situation and will be very willing to go more in-depth when explaining the reasons why their previous search or experience was unsuccessful.

2. Have they shared any proprietary information?

A true prospect is usually willing to share some level of private information with you in confidence that your building relationship and in good faith that there is a real interest in talking substantively about how your product or service would fit into their needs. The sooner a prospect shares this with you the sooner you know that they're beginning to reach a level of confidence with you.

3. Do they have a solution in place?

It'e helpful to know whether your prospect already has a solution in place. This gives you valuable insight into what they've tried before and how your solution compares to their other options. 

4. Are they willing to share a critical need?

Like proprietary information sharing a critical need signals that the prospect is ready to talk seriously, as they are willing to share with you exactly where or what they are currently struggling with and are more likely to want your help.

5. Do you know the timeline involved for them to make a decision?

A single most significant factor responsible for inaccurate pipelines is time. Salespeople should prioritize prospects who are looking to buy sooner rather than later. 

6. What will their day-to-day look like if they don't buy from you?

This question makes it very easy to tell who you're speaking with. Suppose that their day-to-day tasks will be challenging, the likelihood of being a true prospect is higher because their letting you know that they need a serious solution, and timelines are tight.

7. Do you know the prospect's conception of value vs money?

This is the most tricky piece of information to discover because you can't just ask a prospect this question - they probably won't even know how to answer. Here's the million dollar question to get the answer you're looking for.

How have you made purchasing decisions like this in the past?

Be quick to ask this question because if you ask this during the negotiation phase it is going to be about price, but if you ask this early in the prospecting phase the "prospect" will likely be telling you the truth.

8. Are you dealing with the decision maker?

This is one of the most fundamental parts when qualifying a prospect. Sell to someone who's not the decision-maker is like interviewing for a job with someone who's from engineering and not HR. If your contact keeps referring to other people when talking about their company's past decisions, there's a good chance they don't have the final say when it comes to making a purchase. This is the biggest clue that that you are not in a deal with a decision-maker.


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