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Top-Shelf Tip No. 153:

"Don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better."

Jim Rohn

How To Stop Wasting Time Qualifying The Wrong Opportunities

For sales success, sales professionals must know how to effectively qualify opportunities. Even though it's a critical step in the sales process, many sales professionals skip it, saying they don't have the time and energy to complete it.

Julie Thomas, president and CEO of Value Selling Associates, says there are four questions to ask to quickly determine if an opportunity is worth pursuing. We explore Thomas's questions in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.

Does this person have the power to purchase? Make sure you are talking to someone with the authority to make a purchase decision or greatly influence one. This doesn't necessarily mean you must only speak with the chief executive officer. Many major corporate purchases are now done through committees of stakeholders from different lines of business. Thomas encourages sales professionals to determine an organization's purchase approval process early in the conversation to ensure they are communicating with the person in power who can make the buying decision.

Does the company really need what you're selling? At ValueSelling Associates, Thomas talks frequently about the reason a problem is worth solving with their solution. You need to discover if an individual or an organization has a burning issue that they are determined, maybe even desperate, to resolve. And, you need to honestly evaluate if your company's solution is a good fit to mitigate or alleviate the prospect's problems. You may be surprised at how often sales reps do not stop their pursuit after learning that a company's main needs don't align with their offerings.

Does this person truly understand your value proposition? Many executives become fixated on costs, especially if they are on tight budgets or accustomed to bargain-hunting. In this case, Thomas says you must determine if this business or individual understands the true value or worth of your solution beyond its pricing structure. In many cases, sales reps assume that there is enough value to justify the purchase and fail to help the prospect build a believable business case.

Do they acknowledge a timeline for results? If the answer is yes to all the above, it's time to develop a specific timeline for your prospect to realize the results and impact of doing business with you. This plan is mutually created and accepted-and then put in writing. This makes it more concrete than a verbal exchange and also makes it clear as to when, they will buy from you. It is important to use this written plan to focus the prospect on the timeline for expected results rather than just on the date they will be making the investment.

Working through these four questions helps you determine if an opportunity is worth pursuing. When you respectfully determine the prospective client's purchasing authority, business needs, investment, value and timing to buy, you can easily and quickly go beyond gut instinct to know which opportunities to pass on and which to pursue.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Julie Thomas is president and CEO of Value Selling Associates and a noted speaker, author and consultant.

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