A ‘suspect’ is an account that the salesperson has good reason to assume may possibly need an application. This assumption is based on general knowledge of, and experience with other accounts determined in a similar business. A call on the account may or may not have been made. A suspect could be anybody. You get to these people through blogs, social networks and partner sites. You will know you’re doing well by your traffic, referrals, inbound links, likes, and tweets.
A ‘prospect’ is an account on which the salesperson has made at least one call and had definitely determined that an application exists. The account may or may not be aware of the existence of the application. They have given their personal information for more content. They are not a qualified prospect at this point. They are looking for more information and this can come from eBooks, webinars and events. You reach them by email, direct mail and surfing the net. Your goal is to get as much information as possible like their name, email, title, company, website, behavior, needs, and any personal information revealed in your conversation.
A ‘qualified prospect’ or the ‘lead’ is an account where the salesperson is calling on a person who has the authority to buy; recognizes the problem and is willing to do something about it. This person wants to know how you can help them solve their pain. This is where you discuss with them the risk of not taking action and how your expertise helps ease it. It is important to advance to the next step to become a customer/client. These people want content that helps them make the right buying decision. Give them information in whatever format they are looking for whether it is paper or an attachment or pricing sheets you want to nurture your buyer all the way to a closed deal. These people are best reached by email, phone and webinars. You will know you are reaching them by downloads, click through, and attendance. If you lose the sale, find out why and work at finding a way not to lose the next one.
A ‘customer/client’ is an account who has worked with you before or is ordering something now to solve a problem or challenge.
Knowing when to share content and when not to, is important for the bottom line. You need to know where your prospects and qualified prospects are in the buying process and share content that will help them move to the next stage.
Understanding where your potential customer is in the process significantly affects your bottom line.
Tip: Before every call, develop a check list in order to qualify your leads. Here are some things that you can include on your checklist:
- Go to the “About Us” section of the client’s website to get a clear understanding of what they do.
- Research the news/events section of the client’s site to see if there has been any recent news I can reference during the conversation
- Look through the LinkedIn profiles of the individuals on the call to understand roles, responsibilities, previous employment and any connections.
- Write down your S.M.A.R.T. goals for the meeting and know exactly what I want the next step to be.
- Have a shared agenda with the client.
- Write down 2-3 open ended questions in addition to the basic qualifying questions with the goal of getting them to talk.
Sample questions you can ask during the call:
- Does my prospect need my product?
- Can prospect make buying decisions?
- Can prospect pay for my product or purchase?
- Can anyone close the sale? Is the sale realistically possible?