Building a Profitable Sales Process - Qualify the Opportunity

Qualification, Sales Process, Close more business, hope is not a strategy, wishful thinking, sales people, sales manager, pipeline, building a profitable sales process, quote and hope, sales effectiveness, sales coaching, Mike Carroll, Intelligent Conversations, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, sales consultant, Objective Management GroupHere's a radical idea - let's have your sales team qualify opportunities before you prepare a quote!  Too many sales organizations seem to use a "quote and hope" strategy that rarely drives consistent revenue growth.

Continuing our series on Building a Profitable Sales Process, this post will cover step 8 - qualifying the opportunity.




If you asked your sales people and sales managers what's the most important area to explore in the qualification process you'll probably hear "budget".  And that's good, profitable business begins by working with customers who can afford your product or service.  But there is much more to the qualification process than just finding out if they can afford to pay you.

Here are eight (8) questions to have your sales managers ask when coaching your sales people to review opportunities at the "qualification" stage of your sales process:

  1. Have we uncovered all of the issues and do we fully understand the impact our product or service will have on the prospect's situation?
  2. Does the prospect agree with all the issues we have identified and do they have urgency to make a change?
  3. Have we discussed the investment required to implement our solution or purchase our product and does the prospect understand the value this investment will create?
  4. Do we understand the prospect's timeline for when they need our product or solution and do we have the capacity to take on this work within the timeline the prospect requires?
  5. Do we understand the prospect's decision process, know all of the stakeholders involved, and have a strategy to leverage our advocates and covert (or at least neautralize) our detractors?
  6. Have we asked enough questions about the competitive context in which the prospect is making this decision?  Do we know the advantages our solution provides and how these advantages fit into and align with their buying criteria?
  7. Do we have all of the technical information we need to produce an accurate quote?  Has the prospect provided contact information for any technical people on their side (engineers, quality control, etc.) we may need to contact with clarifying questions as we prepare our quote?
  8. Have we clearly defined what happens when the prospect receives our quote?  Has the prospect agreed to make a decision?  Have we set up a meeting to review the quote and go over any questions?
And of course there may be more questions your sales manager should add that are specific to your business.  What would happen if your sales managers regularly asked these types of questions of your sales people?
Would the quality of your quotes and estimates go up?  Would the total number of quotes sent out go down?  Would your sales people win more deals?  
Free analysis report - download it here
Too many companies use a "quote and hope" strategy where their sales people use the quoting process as a means to have the discovery conversation they should have had earlier in the sales process.
Too many sales people waste valuable company resources preparing unqualified quotes. And too many sales people (and sales managers) mistake "being busy" with "being productive."   
What would happen to your sales results if your team consistently took a more disciplined approach to the qualification stage of your sales process? 

Free analysis report
Does your sales team have the skills and strengths to effectively qualify the opportunities in your sales funnel? What challenges and weaknesses get in their way?  Who on your team is capable of selling at a higher margin?  Who can you save and who should you consider replacing or putting into a different role within your organization?

If you're not sure how to answer these questions, ask us for a free overview of our newest tool - the Sales Effectiveness and Improvement Analysis™ - and we will follow up with you to find out if it makes sense to talk about helping your sales organization become more effective.

Are You Selling Price or Building the Case for Value?

describe the imageMany sales people struggle with how to handle pricing objections because they fail to build the case for making an investment in their product or service.  Some sales people believe that if they do not have the lowest price, it is nearly impossible to make a sale.  Even very strong sales people occasionally struggle with pricing conversations and how to explain why their price is higher. If you find yourself in this situation you've probably failed to:
  • Ask questions that help you establish a relationship with the prospect early in the conversation
  • Ask questions that separate you from everyone else trying to sell to them
  • Ask questions that make the prospect think about their challenge or situation in a new way
  • Ask questions that demonstrate your expertise
  • Ask questions that help the prospect understand their situation more clearly or from a new perspective
  • Ask questions that help the prospect gradually perceive the true cost of their situation
  • Ask time-bound questions that help the prospect see the gap between where they've been and where they are now
  • Ask time-bound questions that help the prospect see the gap between where they are now and where they want to be at some point in the future
  • Ask questions that lead to a regular business conversation (NOT a gimmicky sales conversation)
In other words, if you're having a conversation about price you are having the wrong conversation.  And it's probably because you rushed through the discovery process and didn't slow down enough to ask lots and lots of great questions.  Like putting a puzzle together, take your time, focus on one piece at a time, and ask questions that help the prospect see how everything fits.

But if you're not comfortable talking about money.... or if your concept of "a lot of money" is too low..... or if your need for approval outweighs your desire to win the business.... or if you have self-limiting beliefs or other head trash getting in the way.... or if you get emotionally involved and begin to feel rushed when you get tough questions or objections.... you will struggle in sales conversations, will fail to build a case for your product or service, will ask your company to give up profit margin the moment you encounter pricing resistance, and will struggle to meet quota and reach your personal goals.

Want to see how you stack up?  Take our FREE Sales Achievement Grader and we'll send you your results.

How Can You Get Customers To Not Focus On Price?

When a customer is just focused on price, what is one strategy you can do to get them to move off price?

Terry Slattery of Slattery Sales Group (

Howard Popliger of Epic Development & Evaluations (

Gretchen Gordan of Braveheart Sales Performance (

Adam Boyd of Market Sense (