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Are Your Leads Sales Ready? These 5 Questions Can Help You Find Out

by Rachel Clapp Miller /

If you're interested in improving sales performance, it helps to qualify your leads before you invest time and resources in a prospect. These days, businesses don't have the luxury of wooing clients for weeks over expensive dinners and drinks. If you identify the most willing and able leads on your list, you'll increase ROI and improve your sales team members' job satisfaction.

Here's a roundup of some key questions to help your sales reps improve their ability to qualify prospects. 

1. What Internal Factors Influence Your Buying Decision?

question_mark_new.pngIf you ask about your prospects' buying process, they might clue you in on internal factors that affect their ability to make purchasing decisions. contributing editor Geoffrey James identifies several questions sales professionals can ask their leads. These questions are designed to spark conversations that might yield information about the potential buyer's ability or willingness to take action, and how soon they're able to drive a possible purchase. 

Your prospect might also reveal reasons for their hesitation. If he or she mentions that the production team isn't quite ready to make a decision, for example, you might want to turn your attention to a more qualified lead.

2. What's Your Most Urgent Need Right Now?

Improving sales performance often lies in your ability to start good conversations. If you frame your question around a sense of urgency, you plant the idea that your prospect needs to act now. Furthermore, asking about his or her most urgent needs will spawn a conversation about current frustrations and obstacles. Use this question to springboard into increasingly targeted questions.

3. What Will You Do If...?

"What will you do if...?" is one example of those targeted questions.  Sometimes you have to ask tough questions to see immediate results. Our own Brian Walsh talks about the importance of salespeople getting "comfortable with the uncomfortable." After setting the stage and building rapport with a lead, don't be afraid to hit his or her pain points. Those pain points are the things that will allow you to bring true business value with your solutions. 

Ask what will happen if they don't buy your product or service and something goes wrong. This question requires some effective discovery beforehand; you must know what challenges and obstacles your prospects face before you can target those issues in conversation.  Your goal is to uncover that business-level impact that will compel your prospect to take action.  Asking, "What will you do if...?," can be one question that gets you there.  Potential pain points could include lost customers, decreased revenue, and missed opportunities.

4. Can I Stop By Next Wednesday to Discuss Next Steps?

After you meet with a prospect and discuss his or her specific needs, jump right to the point. Invite yourself to his or her office to discuss specific solutions. An unqualified lead will often balk at this idea; he or she is not ready to commit.

5. Why Don't We Set Up a Meeting With [Decision-Maker's Name]?

If you're targeting a lead who doesn't serve as the official decision maker, or the economic buyer, you'll never close the opportunity. Asking who else needs to have a say on solving the business issues you've uncovered can help you determine next steps and who needs to be involved. 

Great questioning skills gives reps the ability to work smarter, spending time with the right people and not on opportunities that will never happen. 


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