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Reality check: Are you currently projecting income from an opportunity that isn’t fully qualified?

Whenever we ask sales professionals this powerful question, we usually hear an awkward silence in response. Sometimes that silence is there because the person or the team has many “opportunities” in the pipeline that everyone knows not only are not qualified, but are in fact highly unlikely to close. And sometimes that silence is there because the person we’re talking to works on a team where there is no accepted definition of the term “fully qualified”!

Pre-qualifying your leads is absolutely critical to a strong pipeline. That means making sure you have clear answers to all of the following questions before you project income:

PAIN: Is there a problem or pain here that you and your organization can solve? How do you know?

BUDGET: Does the budget exist to fix this problem? Are other resources besides money necessary to fix it, and if so, are those available?

DECISION: What is the decision-making process that will determine whether the problem gets fixed? Who will be involved? How do you know?

If you don’t have the answers to those questions, hit the brakes, get the information you need, and do not project income from this opportunity. It’s not qualified.

This kind of three-phase inquiry is absolutely critical to a strong pipeline, because it allows you to focus your time, effort, and energy on motivated buyers. Motivated buyers move more quickly through the sales cycle. Those buyers are your priority!

The principles here are really quite simple, even though they may not be what you have been used to thinking about. So, remind yourself (and your team) of the principles regularly. Here they are again in absurdly simplified form:

  • No pain? No sale.
  • No budget? No sale.
  • No clarity on who makes the decision–and how? No sale.

Post these three simple reminders in a spot where everyone can see them, every day. Why? Because disqualification is as important as qualification. Because you and your team deserve to focus your precious time, attention, and resources on the deals you will win.

The secret to pre-qualifying is embracing the importance of disqualifying people and opportunities that simply have no business being in your pipeline in the first place. Do that systematically, and you will find yourself pursuing the most profitable and easy-to-work-with clients. After all, isn’t that what you want to be doing?

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