Qualifying For Customers Instead Of Prospects

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Qualifying For Customers Instead Of Prospects

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Ever sold something and immediately regretted it?

While the rush of making a sale is great, if we’ve taken on a bad client or sold them something that’s time-intensive to deliver, a dream sale can quickly become a nightmare.

Instead of focusing on selling anything to anyone, the highest-performing salespeople don’t cultivate a pipeline full of prospects. Instead, they build a pipeline full of great potential customers.

If you’d like to sell more and get more enjoyment from your sales conversations, it means revamping the way you’re likely qualifying prospects before and during outreach.

And when it comes to systemizing a customer-focused qualification process, there are few experts better suited to offer advice than Ian Selbie, a sales strategist and author. During our conversation, Ian shared valuable insights and strategies that sales professionals can use to systemize how they qualify prospects who make great customers!

Since we’re trimming hope from our sales strategy, we’ll use the acronym TRIM to guide us through creating a system with a trigger, ensuring it’s repeatable, building in ways to improve it, and of course, ensuring it’s measurable and getting us results.

T – Trigger: According to Ian, we begin this system by identifying our ideal customer profile – NOT our ideal prospect profile. This means determining where our best customers live, what size and types of organizations they belong to, how urgent they see the need for change that our product/services offer, and how close to a decision maker we can normally get in their organizations.

By focusing on replicating our best customers, sales professionals can fill their pipelines with prospects who mirror the types of folks we want to create customers out of – not just those prospects who are most responsive.

Ian said this means looking at the commonalities of our best existing customers (i.e., the customers we want to replicate) to identify job titles, types of companies, and any other differentiating attributes that we can then use to better qualify the prospects we allow into our pipelines. We also want to be clear on the types of products and services we can most easily sell to these types of customers, as it’s easier to sell many smaller items to more prospects than work for a year to have one shot at selling a large item in a competitive bid.

R – Repeatable: Having a repeatable process is essential for systemizing and scaling how we qualify prospects who are more likley to become great customers. Ian emphasized the importance of showing up ready to serve instead of sell.

Because we’re focusing on prospects who we know we can serve, it frees us up from having to close a deal today so we can learn more about their challenges and diagnosing their pain points.

The normal rules of qualification apply here – gather the information you need to recommend a solution, but do so from the perspective of an attending physician who’s recommending a cure, rather than someone just handing out the same medicine for every ailment.

I-Improvable: Continuous improvement is crucial in sales, as the marketplace and customer needs are constantly evolving. Ian said a practical way to do this is by asking what information and challenges are relevant to today to our ideal customers (again, NOT our prospects, but rather those who make ideal customers) that wasn’t relevant last month or last quarter.

Those will be areas to work into our qualification questions and into our sales scripts for future conversations.

M-Measurable: Measuring the effectiveness of a sales strategy is essential to improving your approach and increasing revenue. According to Ian, tracking what questions in our qualification process are identifying folks who align with our ideal customer profile and what questions are generating conversations are critical things to measure. Because we’re focusing on identifying and replicating our ideal customers rather than just selling anything to anyone, we should be tracking anything in our system that’s getting us to that outcome sooner.

By adopting this system and identifying folks who would make great customer – instead of just great prospects – sales professionals can build trust, establish long-term relationships, and close more deals.

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