Qualification Defined

If I asked a room full of experienced salespeople how many of them qualify their clients, every hand would go up. If I asked that same group to define qualification, the answers would probably vary to the extent that a newcomer in sales would be somewhat confused. If I then asked these experienced salespeople to deliver their qualification sequence to the group, I’d have to guess that many would not be able to do so. Too few salespeople, even veterans, have proven, practiced methods of qualification. And that’s a sad truth.

It’s especially sad since our statistics show that the biggest difference between the high income earners and those who earn average incomes in this business is in their skill of qualifying.

Everyone in sales would agree with me when I say that it’s ridiculous to waste your time presenting to an unqualified client. But, how many actually hone their skills when it comes to mastering this vital step? Nowhere near enough. If you cannot right now have a solid qualification sequence flow from your lips, it’s time to give it some serious thought and attention.

To build an effective qualification sequence, ask yourself this: “What do I need to know in order to prove to myself and each potential client that my product is right for him or her and that now is the right time to make the investment?”

The answers to that simple question will point you directly to the questions you need to have in your arsenal. Take some time right now to write out the answers you need to help you determine if your product is right for someone. Then, write the questions that will get you those answers. To know whether or not you’re on the right track, ask yourself this about each question: “Will the answer to this question tell me if this prospective client actually has the need, desire, and money to make a decision today if my product is the best one for their needs?” If your questions do not lead you to answer “yes,” you’re not qualifying to the best of your ability.

As a quick review, the basic NEADS qualification sequence I teach includes questions that tell you what they have Now; what they Enjoy most about it; what they would Alter; and who the final Decision-maker is. Those four areas must be covered by your questions. The other information you need will vary depending on your product or service or even the type of client you have.

Since you’re a sales professional, not an interrogator, the next step is to soften your questions to make them friendly while still getting the answers you need.

Next, step back mentally and look at your questions. Which are natural lead-ins from one to the other? Put them together. Keep doing this until you have a sequence of questions that flow well in conversation, one topic to the next, providing you with the information you need to do your job well.

Once you have your sequence, go for a test drive. Ask the questions, conversationally, of a friend or associate and have them tell you how the wording of each question makes them feel. If they begin to feel as though they’re under bright, hot lights, your questions still need work.

True professionals never finish refining their skills and the art of their profession. Your goal in qualification is to have the client provide you with the maximum amount of information with the minimum effort. Properly worded questions in your qualification sequence will do just that for you.

Learn more about qualification>>

This information is copyrighted by Tom Hopkins International, Inc. for reprint permission, contact Judy Slack (judys@tomhopkins.com).

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