There are a number of factors that can be used to qualify inbound B2B sales leads. Do they have the authority to buy? Do they have a budget allocated? But I think the most important qualifier is how much a prospect needs your solution. I’ve found that when prospects have a need for a solution, they’ll jump through hoops to build consensus among key decision makers and get budget approval.
Every lead that fills out a web form or calls your sales team is entertaining the notion of change. By asking the right questions you’ll not only be able to establish whether leads are suitably, you can also gain a better understanding of their needs. The result is that you can do a far better job of partnering with prospects to implement positive changes.
The following are a few questions that can help you do a better job of discovering your prospects’ needs.
One question that I like to ask inbound prospects is, “So what led you to look at new solutions now?”
“Now” is really the key word here. What I’m looking for is for a prospect to reveal a concrete reason why they are investigating new solutions. Their answer to this question gives me insight into their business drivers and implementation time frame. For example, a lead recently called me asking about our Intelligent Dialer for Salesforce. I asked him why he was looking at dialers now. He said that he had just taken on a leadership role and had been given a mandate to lift sales ROI. In order to gain a competitive advantage, he was looking for sales acceleration tools that work with Salesforce. By asking that question, I was able to quickly qualify the lead and schedule a demo.
Every prospect I’ve ever spoken to comes to the table with some preconceptions. However, sometimes prospects’ expectations should be challenged. Let’s face it, as salespeople, sometimes we know what our prospects need better than they do. I’ll give you an example. I was recently speaking to a co-worker who recommended celebrity chef Mario Batali’s restaurant, CARNEVINO, in Las Vegas. He told me that when he ordered a porterhouse steak, the waiter challenged his order and asked, “so may I ask why you ordered the porterhouse?” My co-worker explained that in his experience the porterhouse has always been the best cut of a steak. The waiter responded by explaining that while at most restaurants this was the case, at that particular restaurant they were renowned for their rib eye steak. My co-worker ordered the rib eye instead and was not disappointed.
Whether you’re selling $60 steaks or seven-figure business intelligence systems, you almost certainly know your solution better than your prospects do. So try to find out why they want what they think they want and then deduce whether their expectations align with their actual needs.
One of my absolute favorite questions to ask prospects is this, “So what happens if you don’t arrive at a decision?” This question helps me understand what their stake is in closing the deal. It’s not only vital to help prospects to imagine the better world that awaits them by investing in your solution. It’s also just as important for you to understand the consequences of not resolving those issues. Sometimes prospects will have never considered these consequences themselves.
As an example, I recently invested in a SaaS webinar solution. Luckily, it didn’t take me long to discover the solution I wanted to invest in, get budget approval and make the purchase. Had I not been able to find a solution, however, there would have been consequences. Our marketing team had already booked the talent, set a date and started making plans. Not finding a way to host the webinar was not an option. So for me, the stakes were high. If you and your prospect can come to a mutual understanding that the stakes for this deal are high, you can then work together to get the details firmed up as quickly as possible.
Want to learn some more of the most important sales qualification questions to ask your prospects? If so, I highly recommend our free eBook, Socratic Sales. Inside, you’ll find the 21 top questions to ask your sales prospects in order to accelerate sales.
Jesse WestDirector of Lifecycle MarketingringDNA
Jesse Davis West is Director of Lifecycle Marketing at ringDNA, focusing on improving the experience and maximizing the lifetime value for customers across their entire journey. Drawing on 9 years of B2B marketing experience, Jesse is passionate about communication, branding and strategic marketing. He also plays a mean lead guitar and can throw down at karaoke.