Why You Should Disqualify Prospects Early On in the Sales Process
By Maddy Osman on Jan 04, 2019
When you’re engulfed in the day-to-day of sales life, it can be difficult to keep perspective on just how valuable your time is.
Seconds, minutes, and even hours spent here and there on another follow-up email or phone call may not appear to impact sales productivity. By adding up every small effort over the long term, the bigger picture comes into view.
One area you’re likely to dedicate unnecessary effort towards is prospecting, which may seem somewhat counterintuitive. After all, efforts like cold calling are often projected as a sort of numbers game.
In essence, the more calls you make, the more likely you are to secure a lead.
At one point in time — namely the days of pre-digital — this could’ve very well been true. But with an influx of information now at consumer fingertips (and the high level of marketplace competition facing nearly every industry), more of anything is not always a differentiator.
Instead of focusing on increasing the sheer volume of prospect touch points, consider honing your skills around identifying when it’s time to cut the dead-weight loose.
That’s right, learn to let go.
It’s true that doing so may leave you with fewer potential leads, but it will also free up more time for deals that are more likely to close.
Here’s how (and why) to disqualify prospects early on in the sales process.
Conduct Thorough Pre-Funnel Research
You could reach out to everyone and anyone who seems like they’d be remotely interested in what you’re selling. Or, you could put in the time developing a quality pre-funnel research phase upfront, so that you’re able to spend more time building relationships and closing deals.
A good place to start in developing quality pre-funnel research criteria is your company’s marketing department. In their efforts around brand awareness, they’ve likely mapped out audience personas complete with pain points, job titles, needs, and more.
Combine these profiles with commonalities gathered from deals you’ve closed in the past, and you should have enough of a foundation to start targeting prospects more methodically.
An Excessive Competitor Pool
Competition is, more often than not, a sure thing in the world of sales. Your prospects aren’t putting all of their eggs in one basket by seeking out demonstrations and proposals from just your company.
The point where you should start to worry about the competition is when prospects are in conversations with an excessive number of vendors (think, more than two to three).
The more vendors a prospect is engaging with, the higher the likelihood that they themselves have yet to narrow in on what they’re really looking for. This can then translate to them not having a clear understanding of the problem they need to solve for.
Additionally, it might also mean that there’s a lack of urgency around actually bringing on a new tool or service. They may just be casually looking at what’s out there with little to no intention of moving forward.
Up Against Timing Roadblocks
If a prospect has laid out a timeline from the start that seems unrealistic or unattainable based on your own sales and implementation cycles, you may want to reevaluate going after them.
After all, you want to ensure that whatever you’re selling is going to meet the requirements of the company you’re selling to. If it can’t, the deal is already at a disadvantage in terms of longevity from the very beginning.
Ask the right questions around prospect expectations, and be mindful of the long-term process — not just what you need to say to make the sale, but what you need to do make the right sale.
Your Contact Lacks Decision-Making Authority
This is something that can easily sneak on past you during the vetting process if you’re not paying attention. If your contact lacks decision-making authority, this could be another sign of a lack of urgency.
Making a resolution to work on cold calling in the new year is one way to better navigate this common occurrence. When you target prospects based on job title, you have more control over building relationships with those most likely to sign contracts.
The Budget Isn’t There
If the budget isn’t there, the budget isn’t there.
You can’t close deals off the potential for budget, nor can you begin to put proposals together with vague and inconsistent number ranges. This is especially true if what a prospect has ballparked for spend significantly differs from what would be expected of them on a monthly or annual basis.
Don’t waste time going overkill on pulling strings internally or finding ways to cut corners. Sell your product for what it’s worth, just as you would your own time and bottom line.
Your Solution is Low Priority for the Problems They’re Trying to Solve
A company, whether startup or established, is up against its own mass of problems at any given time. One of the main questions you’re answering when determining whether to disqualify prospects early on is how much they need what you have to sell.
This isn’t to say that you can’t close a deal with a prospect that hadn’t even been looking, (passively or otherwise) for your solution in the first place. But you do need to understand how what you have to sell fits into the greater vision and goals held by the company. This will help you gauge how serious a prospect will be in hearing out and taking action on what you’re proposing.
Final Thoughts: Why You Should Disqualify Prospects Early On in the Sales Process
Sales goals and quotas can sometimes leave you feeling like any booked meeting is a step in the right direction. But booking and prospecting just to check boxes doesn’t do anyone any good in the long run.
Approach prospecting as you would a personalized proposal, remaining conscious of the alignment between your sales process and your clients’ needs from start to finish.
Looking for a tool to help streamline sales efficiencies from prospect, to contract, and every step in between? Get started with your 14-day free trial of Cirrus Insight today.