Lots of business owners think that the sales process begins with making a sales pitch or dialling a cold call.
But what about the sales leads that contact your company? When a new business prospect calls your business or emails your business for the first time, what happens next? Do you just handle these new business leads on a haphazard basis, or do you have a consistent process in place to figure out which sales leads are really ready to buy?
Here’s the thing about sales: Not all new sales leads are equal. Some new business prospects are going to be the right fit for your business, some are not, and some new prospects MIGHT buy from you in the long run—but they need more time to do research and ask questions and figure out their internal dynamics.
But how can you find out which sales leads are which? You need to qualify your sales leads by asking lead-qualifying questions. This way you can learn more about your new prospects and figure out which ones are ready to buy, and which ones will need more time. This will help you avoid the problem of good sales leads falling through the cracks, while also avoiding the problem of wasting time on “bad” leads.
Here are a few lead-qualifying questions that you need to ask every new inbound sales lead, and why:
why did you decide to contact our company?
This question helps you learn more about how the prospect found out about your business. Did they get a referral? Did they find your website? Did they see one of your ads? Did they hear about you from a news story or social media post? Whatever it is, it’s worth asking to find out what they know about your business and how they decided to connect with you.
why are you looking for a new solution?
Here you can identify what issues or problems the prospect is having with their business that motivated them to contact you. Learn more about their overall business operations and future business goals.
how are your current issues impacting your business?
This question helps you go more deeply into the prospect’s business and figure out how much “pain” they are experiencing. This can help you make an estimate of how motivated they are to buy.
what other competitors are you looking at so far?
Get a sense for how much the prospect knows about you industry and the competitive landscape. Find out if your business is the only one they’re considering so far, or if you’re one of several vendors who might be invited to put in a bid.
how long have you been researching for a new solution?
Find out if this is a long-term process that’s been in the works for a long time, or if the prospect is just getting started doing their research. This can also help you evaluate how quickly the prospect might be ready to buy.
how soon do you think you might want to make a purchase decision?
Again, this question is more direct but it can give you insights into the prospect’s decision time frame.
who else is involved in your decision-making process?
Ask to identify key stakeholders in the purchase decision. Figure out more about the shape of the prospect’s organization and which parts of the organization need to be involved in your sales discussions.
After you’ve asked these qualifying questions, you can start to sort your sales leads into categories based on which ones are most ready to buy. Ideally, these qualifying questions will help you get an estimate of which sales leads are higher priority or lower priority, and you can direct your sales efforts accordingly.