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Qualifying Inbound Prospects

4 minute read

Kristin Harrison   by Kristin Harrison November 12, 2015

As a salesperson, it is extremely important to get off to a good start with your prospect. The days where selling and relationship building went hand and hand are over. Today it is all about what you know and how you solve problems. In this article, you will learn more about how research has revealed the best type of B2B salesperson.

The first sales meeting, the qualifying meeting, is critical, as you don't want to waste their time, or yours. In today's business world, the salesperson's no longer the giver or the yes man. The salesperson is now the challenger, thinker and the problem solver and the first qualifying meeting gives you about 45 minutes to an hour to get it accomplished.

Here are my Top 10 Qualifying Questions to determine if the buyer can benefit from inbound marketing.

1. What marketing have you been doing and how is it working for you?

This is where you will be able to understand more about the prospect and their business. What they like and what has worked, what they don't like and what hasn't worked, and most importantly how savvy they are. You will begin to understand more about them, and their problems and pain points. Listen actively and listen well.

2. Do you have a blog, write content and share it throughout social channels?

Content is key and most of the time the answer to this is "no", or they make an inconsistent attempt. This is a great opportunity to discuss the benefits of blogging and content marketing, and doing so can position them in the marketplace as a thought leader.

3. Do you have a sales team and what is their best lead source?

Knowing how many sales associates they have and how they get their leads will help you determine how they can benefit from generating sales leads from inbound marketing efforts. I had a client tell me once that her salespeople were responsible for getting all of their leads themselves and she didn't know or really care where they came from. This is often a recipe for failure, and I definitely saw a clear need for improvement.

4. Do you have a CRM and do your salespeople use it?

A good CRM will organize the contacts and record the activity of where they came from, and where they are in the funnel. If the prospect answers "no" to this, it's a sign their sales processes are not well developed and may be causing sub-optimal sales results - definitely a problem or pain point. Take this opportunity to paint the picture for them on organizing their database will benefit them.

5. Do you have a good idea of who your customers are? What they like and don't like? Hot buttons?

Most business owners or CEO's believe they know everything about their customers and in my experience, this should be challenged. Do they really know them to the emotional level, what they care about, how your product or service can solve their problem?

In our marketing work over may years, we've found it rare that businesses know their customers well enough to produce content that stands out from the rest of the "noise" on the internet. Watch for clues that the prospect may be saying all of the wrong things to the right people.

6. What is your annual revenue? What are the company's goals for 2016? What are the growth goals?

These questions help you determine if they are a qualified lead and how realistic their growth goals are. If their annual revenue is below your companies target customer, and their growth goals are unrealistic, this may be a clear opportunity for you to walk away. Don't take on a new client unless you're confident you can perform for them. If they are in your target and have a realistic growth goal you will be able to determine how you can help them achieve their goals.

7. What is your average Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)?

How much is a customer worth to them in terms of revenue year over year? This will help you determine how many new customers they will need in order to meet their growth goals. For example, if the average sale is $10,000 and they retain customers for 5 years, the CLV is $50, 000 (average sales x number of years retained)

8. What is your close rate?

Finding out how many leads that come in, close, and become customers will help you further investigate how many leads have to be generated in order for growth goals to be achieved. For example, if they want to generate 10 sales/month and their close rate is 50%, they'll need to generate 20 leads/month to achieve their sales goal.

9. How many of your current leads are generated online?

If they have never gotten a lead online, then you know you have a lot of work to do. Educating the prospect on how inbound marketing can benefit them when they have never experienced it can be tricky. Key data points always help in this situation, for example, "did you know that 70% of the buyer's decision process is made online before they even make contact?". Make sure you have good data to share in a prospect meeting.

10. Who are your competitors?

Knowing who your prospect cares about in terms of competition is key. They may be a competitor in their mind, but are they a competitor digitally? This is a great area of research opportunity for you.

The prospect meeting is crucial for the success of you as well as your company. It is critical to speak to the decision maker, know your target market, and ask hard and probing questions. Your goal is not to build a relationship, your goal is to establish trust and evaluate ways your company can solve their problem.


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Kristin is the “tomorrow maker” for WebStrategies. She is responsible for maintaining strong, productive relationships with existing clients, and working to connect other businesses to the company’s creative thinking, strategic talent and data-driven marketing approach.

 

Topics: Sales, Selling Skills, Inbound Marketing, Personas, Sales Training, Digital Marketing

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