Why work on unqualified opportunities when you could be making money?
That’s what a good friend of mine – a senior sales executive with a technology company – asks his sales team every week at their regular Friday morning review meeting. I have long argued that whenever you spend time on an unqualified sales opportunity, you are not spending time on a deal you can win.
Now the analysis of data from my latest research publication Thriving in the Whirlwind provides irrefutable proof.
I’ve listed them before but here again are the 8 key questions to ask to determine how likely a sale is to close:
- Has the customer an Identified Project?
- Is Access to Funds confirmed?
- Do you know the Compelling Event that motivates the customer to buy now?
- Are all the Key Players identified?
- Do you fully understand the Buyer’s Needs?
- What’s our Unique Business Value?
- Is there a good Solution Fit?
- Do you understand the Formal or Informal Decision Criteria?
In the Business Performance Benchmark Study we determined whether the sellers knew how to qualify effectively. Then we explored whether Marketing delivered its share of qualified opportunities.
Three out of 10 of the sellers who participated in the Benchmark Study suggested that the sales teams in their organizations were not good at qualification. Bearing in mind that these results are from the sellers themselves, this is somewhat concerning. When we asked the same question of their Marketing colleagues only 52 percent of marketers thought that Sales is effective at qualifying sales opportunities.
Good qualification methods help you weed out losers early. It’s better to have a few holes in your pipeline that you can identify, rather than kid yourself with a pipeline bulging with puffed-up no-hopers.
According to the Benchmark Study, sellers who can qualify effectively have improved performance measured by 20 percent Win Rate improvement and a 17 percent shorter Sales Cycle. Combining these two performance levers you can deliver a 45 percent productivity improvement.
Sales teams are seldom happy with the number or quality of sales opportunities delivered by Marketing. The Benchmark study bears this out: 66 percent of sellers say that Marketing does not deliver a reasonable number of qualified opportunities, and 39 percent of marketers agree that their performance in this area is inadequate. (More detail in the book)
But, even when Marketing delivers a ‘Marketing Qualified Opportunity’ it is still the responsibility of the sellers to qualify further before allocating resources and then throughout the engagement with the prospective customer, they need to continue to qualify consistently.
Sales winners qualify relentlessly, using the qualification process as a platform to build mutual respect and deep relationships with their customers to exceed their goals. Less successful salespeople don’t qualify well, maintain huge bloated pipelines – and close few deals. They also get fired frequently.
Do you qualify to win? There is a 45 percent revenue uplift available if you qualify effectively is Insight #4 from Thriving in the Whirlwind: Four Insights to Grow Revenue Now which analyzes the 80,000 data elements of the Altify Buyer / Seller Value Index Study (2016) in combination with the 60,000 data elements of the Business Performance Benchmark Study (2017) to derive fresh insights into revenue growth opportunities in a fast-changing world.