- How Did You Hear About Us?
- Are You in Charge of Purchase Decisions?
- What Is the Problem You Need to Solve?
- Why Are You Looking for a Solution Now?
- What Budget Do You Expect to Allocate to the Solution?
- Have You Investigated Other Solutions?
- What Could Stop You From Going Ahead With Our Products?
How do you tell a bad lead from a viable sales prospect?
If you root out the people who aren’t right for your product or aren’t in a buying position yet, you increase the percentage of time you spend talking to great prospects who have real potential to become lasting customers.
This is where sales qualification comes in. The right sales qualifying questions will quickly let you know how best to deal with each opportunity you get.
The perfect sales qualifying questions will be specific to your industry. Nevertheless, we’ve put together our favorite sales qualification questions that will work in virtually any sales scenario.
1: How Did You Hear About Us?
This open-ended question is innocuous enough to be used as an opener but can reveal a wealth of information on how far down the sales funnel the customer is.
Why does it work? The listener remains unguarded as the question sounds harmless. But the answer they give you can be invaluable in qualifying them right off the bat.
For instance, if they heard about you because they saw an Instagram ad about a sale your company is running, you can deduce they may not know much about your brand and are motivated by the lower pricing.
If, however, they’re contacting you after attending a webinar, you know they’re already further along the sales pipeline and somewhat invested in seeking a solution to their problem.
And if they’re calling you after being recommended by a friend or colleague, they’re typically a much stronger lead, as they’ve already been warmed up to your brand through word of mouth.
2: Are You in Charge of Purchase Decisions?
It makes sense to ask this pivotal question early in the process, as there’s no point in wasting your time. Real decision-makers won’t find the question offensive, either, as they understand everyone’s time is valuable.
Why does it work? You need to know whether the person you’re talking to will really be able to purchase your products or services or if they’re just performing preliminary research for the real decision-makers.
If the caller can’t make buying decisions, you certainly shouldn’t dismiss them, but the time you spend pitching your product should remain reasonable until you’re talking to the real buyers at the organization.
3: What Is the Problem You Need to Solve?
This type of question will guide the direction of the rest of your sales pitch, so should be asked shortly after the initial pleasantries.
Why does it work? If the caller is looking for a solution to a problem you can’t deliver, they’re unlikely to be a great lead. On the other hand, it isn’t necessarily a deal breaker. The answer to this question will often spark ideas for how the rest of your sales pitch should go and the product benefits you should highlight the most.
The exact question you ask here will usually need to be massaged based on your industry. If you work in B2B sales, the caller will almost certainly have a specific business problem in mind that they need to solve. In B2C sales, however, customers are much more driven by personal emotion, so the “problem” they need to solve can be more abstract and you may need to do more digging to find their real pain points.
4: Why Are You Looking for a Solution Now?
As a lead-on from the previous question, this query can give you additional information on the client’s urgency.
Why does it work? Even if you have the perfect product for the customer, if they don’t have an urgent need to buy then they’re not a great lead. Buyers that have an immediate need should be prioritized, whereas you can follow up later with customers who are good candidates for your products but aren’t in the ready-to-buy stage of their decision making process.
5: What Budget Do You Expect to Allocate to the Solution?
Now that you’ve established that the lead has a problem you can solve and a certain amount of trust has been built, you need to ascertain whether the customer will be able to afford our solutions.
Why does it work? Leads that can’t afford your products or services don’t make good leads. You can reiterate all the benefits of the solutions you provide so a budget-conscious customer might reevaluate how much they’re willing to pay, but your time will be better spent on customers with the budget to afford what you offer.
6: Have You Investigated Other Solutions?
This question can offer information on whether the customer is shopping around and how much they know about your industry in general.
Why does it work? It’s useful to know if the customer sees your company as the best or only solution to their problem, or if they’re just phoning around trying to find a better price.
Knowing the competitors they’ve contacted can give you ideas on how to steer the sales conversation to discuss features and benefits you know your rivals don’t offer.
7: What Could Stop You From Going Ahead With Our Products?
This open-ended question can bring up any other potential issues the customer has.
Why does it work? If you’ve made it this far with your lead, they’re probably a pretty good fit for your company and a solid lead. But it’s worth checking for any potential snags that haven’t yet come up in the conversation. Perhaps there are government regulations to consider or a third party that needs to offer consent, for example.
This question can also show you things the customer worries about the most about going ahead, such as a ballooning cost or implementation delays. You can use this information to give assurances that help the customer overcome their fears.
Make the Best of Your Time by Qualifying All Leads
A high close rate in sales comes from maximizing your time and resources. If you’re in an industry with lots of potential leads but few actual buyers, your time is best spent on hot leads who are in the market to buy products. Keep cool leads on ice until they’re ready to get serious.
Sales qualifying questions, like those outlined above, are your best way to get the greatest returns from the leads that land on your desk.