Qualifying Prospects: How Top Salespeople Sense When a Deal Will Close

Rather than wasting time on dead-end deals, top sales reps focus on the most promising opportunities. Here are four ways to qualify your sales prospects.

April 13, 2017

  • Businessman Touching Tall Grass in a Field

Being a hard worker is admirable. But there are times when giving your all isn’t enough. Sales is a perfect example. You could plug away day and night building your pipeline and working your opportunities.

Come month’s end, some deals fall through, and others don’t progress past their current pipeline stage. It happens, but the bottom line is, you fell short of quota. What’s even more frustrating is when your peers put in less effort and walk away with bigger commission checks and more accolades.

While working hard may be an equalizer, working smart is the ultimate equalizer. When you work smarter as a sales professional, you invest the lion’s share of your time on high-value prospects. You devote most of your attention to deals that are likely to close while intentionally ignoring those that are destined to collapse and waste your time.

The key is knowing how to distinguish between the two. Here are four tips to help you zero in on your most promising prospects.

1. Look for Signs of Dissatisfaction

You know it’s tough to get someone to change the status quo unless they are eager to do so. One sure sign is when a prospect expresses frustration or dissatisfaction with their current solution, and it happens to be provided by your competitor.

A prospective buyer might share this with you in the course of a conversation. Or you might pick up on it via social listening. However you uncover this signal, the prospect’s organization has already acknowledged the need for a new solution. Now they just want one that delivers on its promise and makes them happy to be a customer.

2. Monitor Buyers’ Digital Movements

While not every buyer goes about the purchase process in the same manner, your company will likely notice a path to purchase that generally applies to all customers. Along that path, most prospects consume certain content and take specific actions as they research and evaluate their options.

Ideally your marketing team has mapped these content consumption and action patterns with the overall buying process. Perhaps your best customers download case studies, an ROI calculator, and a free trial before purchasing. In fact, if you offer a try-before-you-buy version of your solution, you can even track how and when the trial is being used – or whether it’s been abandoned. With all these clues in hand, you can better determine whether a prospect is more likely to purchase than not.

3. Connect Purchases to Company Initiatives

The most promising opportunities are the ones in which the purchase will prove instrumental to a company’s strategic goals or vision. By monitoring account-related news and executive presentations and articles, you may be able to glean the organization’s most pressing priorities. You can then identify the ones that require a solution such as yours.

Say, for example, a company puts out a press release announcing its plans to boost profitability by digitizing a key process within the coming year. If you are talking to a buyer from that company about a solution of yours that would be a perfect fit, you know the opportunity is a hot one. 

4. Gain Their Trust

Making a B2B purchase can be overwhelming for many buyers. It’s no wonder so many of them welcome offers to simplify that process.

As you interact with prospects, help them navigate the purchase path. This help can come in many forms. You could offer content or information, advise them on how to conduct their research, or connect them with an expert who can answer a question. You could even assist them in determining whether your solution is the most fitting one. While the last point may seem counterintuitive, it’s one of the best ways to avoid wasting time, for both you and the buyer.

Demonstrate that your solution is the best option – and pair it with being helpful– and you establish yourself as a trusted advisor who is more likely to make the short list. On the other hand, if you and the prospect agree that your solution can’t help them succeed, you can quickly pivot to focus on more promising leads.

For more insights into how B2B buyers make their purchase decisions, check out our eBook, Influencing B2B Buyers: New Insights Into Purchase Drivers.