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In an ideal sales world, every sales lead would turn into an accessible, eager prospect, one that move quickly through the sales funnel with no hesitation or objections

But, as any sales professional can attest, that’s rarely the case. A qualified lead may look good on paper but they don't always translate into a qualified, real-life prospect.

In your quest to close sales, you’ll encounter many different types of prospects, some of which will be more of a drain on your time, energy, and resources than others. Instead of writing off the more challenging leads, use some of these simple practices along the normal sales process to qualify them alont the way.

1. Qualify, Qualify, Qualify

The qualification process cannot be overstated here. All leads should run through the qualification filter many times. Only when that lead hits all the necessary requirements can they be passed on to the sales team. 

This means that the lead should not only be the decision maker, but should also be in a position where they're primed to make the purchase - and not just fact-finding. It’s important to qualify on both points because research has shown that 50% of leads that are qualified are not ready to purchase. The same study shows that only 25% of leads are valid qualified prospects that should be escalated to the sales team.

To avoid wasting time on unqualified leads that will never convert, know the prospect's target market, whether they're likely to buy, and where that lead was generated from before spending your resources selling them on a product they're not ready for.

Obviously, if a lead is unqualified, send it back over to marketing to further nurture the relationship. When the lead is fully-formed, you'll know because it won't look like a lead anymore, but a qualified prospect.

Bad prospects not ready to buy

  

2. The Questioner: "But What If...?"

Many times, the great sales pitch just isn't enough for some clients. Some clients are just apt to ask a lot more questions than others, and are not comfortable until they go over every scenario (I'm one of them).

We're intent on gathering as much knowledge and transparency before making a purchase - making sure we're prepared for anything that could potentially come our way. .

Take a proactive approach with The Questioners by providing plenty of details up front. Make sure your product descriptions, web pages, and presentations are thorough and accurate. Provide easy-access to FAQs, forums, and blog posts that address potential inquiries and concerns.

Also consider sharing whitepapers, case studies, and references from happy customers from their same industry.

Frequently these types of prospects will want to know how your product compares to the competition’s as well. As soon as a prospect starts asking about the competition, it’s important to tread lightly. Provide all of the information you can about your product, but avoid speaking badly about the competition. Allow your product to speak for itself, and give the prospect time to research the other options out there.

Lead Nurturing Handbook 300x2503. Give Them Value

Some leads will try to haggle on price, especially if your competitor charges less. This is your opportunity to explain why your offering costs more.

Focus on the benefits and perks they’ll enjoy by investing in your product. If the buyer seems apathetic, they likely don’t believe the product has any real value to them. This is when case studies, demonstrations and examples of the consequences of not making the purchase are most useful. Help the prospect to understand why your product is critical to the continued success of the customer’s business. Focus on consequences, and don’t be afraid to address the issue head on, because an apathetic prospect isn’t going to make the sale.

4. Make It Easy to Buy

Not all prospects will be tech-savvy, and some will quickly get upset if it is difficult to talk to you or make a purchase. Streamline your website and your sales process, so it’s easy and a pleasure to work with you rather than a pain. In addition, make it easy for prospects to connect with a support specialist in real time, ideally via live chat or phone, so they don’t get frustrated enough to abandon the site or app before completing checkout. With 38% of consumers ultimately making a purchase based on a live chat session, failing to provide support is one of the costliest mistakes you can make.

Make it easy to buy live chat

5. Be Firm, Honest, Respectful

While it can be a smart business move to accommodate requests, some clients will attempt to negotiate pretty much every aspect of the sale. Whether it’s price, payment due dates, or product specifications, make sure they know which elements are non-negotiable. Ultimately, if the client is truly interested in the product, he or she will accept the terms of the sale. If the client isn’t interested or is simply trying to get as much out of you as possible, you will be better off ending the relationship there than using up resources on a bad customer.

6. Gently Guide the Prospect to their Decision

Closely related to the Questioner, is the Indecisiver. A slice of your sales prospects are simply indecisive by nature.

After providing all relevant information about your product and providing all the answers to their questions, gently prod the prospect to determine whether there’s a genuine motivation to purchase. Some tactics to try include discussing the consequences of not taking action, starting the closing paperwork and looking for objections. Force the prospect to make some kind of decision in order to get the ball rolling because, an indecisive answer gets the same results as a “no.”  

Also: know when to walk away. Recognize those that hover in the perpetual state of analysis/paralysis. These scary prospects need more than your nurturing, and likely aren’t worth the time.

7. Put On Your Coaching Hat

All too often, salespeople mistakenly assume they are at the mercy of their customers’ whims. In reality, many of today’s busy buyers are coachable and open to receiving guidance.

Value and quality are important to your prospects, but so is time, which means many consumers need you to help them understand what is available and what specifications they should be looking for to match their particular needs. By cluing them into your product’s advantages, and doing the market research for them, you’ll gain credibility and the upper hand when it comes time to buy.

No two prospects are alike. Nurturing is a term associated more with Marketing than it is with Sales, but as you can see that not all leads are created equal, much less ideal. Some leads will be easy to work with, but a majority will require some educating and hand-holding to become a true, full-fledged prospect.

By keeping these best practices in mind, you’ll be able to identify and mold most unqualified leads into the quality sales prospects that can easily be closed with some nurturing.

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