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Posted: February 15, 2011

Potential clients: Are they worthy?

Here's how to decide

Gary Harvey

The objective of the first call is to qualify or disqualify your prospect as someone with whom you can do business. In order for them to qualify as a prospect, three conditions must be met:

1. There must be a "compelling" reason for them to want to become your client - their reason, not necessarily yours. Your first task is to identify, or help your prospect discover, that reason - what I call, their "PAIN." It may be a problem, frustration, disappointment, anxiety, fear, waste or loss they are trying to alleviate or avoid. It may be they are trying to accomplish something particular in their career and they realize they won't be able to do so without the help of someone like you. They must also be committed to doing something about it, and doing it now.

2. They must be both willing and able to make the investments necessary to work with you including:

TIME - can they, will they, invest the time to solve the problem;
MONEY - are they willing and able to invest the money now;
CHANGE - are they willing to make an investment in changing the way they do things, their behaviors and possibly their beliefs about themselves, their marketplace and their competition.

3. The process by which they will make their decision to invest their money to participate in your solution must be one in which you are willing to participate.

If you have established a reason for them to become your client (pain), they are willing and able to make the necessary investments and the process by which they will make their decision is consistent with your plans and time-frame, they qualify as a prospect.

If, on the other hand, you are unable to establish a "real" reason for them to become your client, they are not willing or able to invest the time or money necessary, or the decision process is so convoluted or contains too many "hoops" for you to jump through, they are disqualified as a prospect and, in most cases, it's not worth investing any more time with them. There are other people to call on. Chasing someone to try to "make" them a prospect is a poor use of your time and energy. I call those people salespeople waste too much time chasing "suspects' not "real" prospects. And those suspects will never tell you "no" and hope you just go away.

If, and only if, they qualify, are they entitled to a presentation. There are no "free" presentations, when your time is involved! If you haven't established a reason for them to become your client, they're not going to discover it during your presentation.

Additionally, what would you present? What particular problems, concerns or goals would you address? If the person doesn't have the money, it won't magically appear during your presentation. If they are unable, or unwilling, to make a decision, the best you can get is a "Maybe" or some other form of "think-it-overs," none of which can be deposited in your bank account!
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Gary Harvey is the founder and president of Achievement Dynamics, LLC, a high performance sales training, coaching and development company for sales professionals, managers and business owners and is the recipient of the David H. Sandler Award, awarded to the top Sandler trainer in the world. His firm is consistently rated by the Sandler Training as one of the top 10 training centers in the World. He can be reached at 303-741-5200, or gary@achievemoresales.com .

Gary Harvey is the founder and president of Achievement Dynamics, LLC, a high performance sales training, coaching and development company for sales professionals, managers and business owners. His firm is consistently rated by the Sandler Training as one of the top 10 training centers in the world. He can be reached at 303-741-5200, or gary@achievemoresales.com.

 

 

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Readers Respond

Yes, a very concise and doable formula for evaluating prospects, to which I adhere 99% of the time. When it's right I do give things away, but not as a rule. I've found in Colorado that building relationships goes a long way and people appreciate a "neighborly" gesture. So far even though I can never say what exactly will happen from it, generosity, well-placed, is appreciated and comes back to me. By Stephen Koenigsberg on 2011 02 15
What a timely article, and I agree completely. A few years ago, I made the decision (painful at the time) to qualify my potential clients with the years they have been in business - two. In other words, I would not take on startups. I had come to this decision after reviewing about 10 years of files and discussion with my accountant. While I know it has cost me some money, it was one of the best business decisions I have ever made. Despite this, however, occassionally I still take on a client I shouldn't. Perhaps I'll print this article out and take it with me on my next new client interview! By Vicki on 2011 02 15

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