Last week I was speaking with a service provider who wanted to joint venture with me. They have a CRM solution they wanted to me to market to my list of subscribers. After the initial conversation, next steps were outlined and they sent me more in-depth info on their product to evaluate.
After exploring their solution, I decided they weren’t a good match for my vertical. So before we went through all the trouble of sending even more information or sitting through a demo, I emailed them and declined. The email I got back was brilliant. They thanked me for my time and then simply said:
“We always like to lose early.”
Now that’s a response from a company who understands the value of disqualifying. Unfortunately, most sales reps operate the exact opposite way. Here’s how most sales reps do it:
Most sales reps act with desperation to put anyone into their pipeline that will take their information. They are then happy to call these very shaky prospects back and waste their time sending information or revising documents or whatever else they are asked to do. And after this long and frustrating process, the majority of these prospects end up not being a sale. In fact:
The industry wide closing average is 2 or 3 out of ten prospects!
Think about that for just a moment. Think about all the time, energy, phone calls, voice messages, emails, chasing, and disappointment you have to go through pursuing 7 or 8 prospects through a sales cycle only to have them finally tell you no.
That’s why the response, “We always like to lose early” is so brilliant. By losing the sale early in the process—as a direct result of an intensive, first qualifying call, by the way—we both saved ourselves a lot of work, a lot of time in following up, and the disappointment of a lost deal at the end of it all.
What this all comes down to is the concept of “disqualifying” your leads rather than qualifying them just enough to get them into your pipeline. What this allows you to do is spend less time pitching unqualified leads that steal your valuable time. And I’m sure you know who I’m talking about…
In order to identify non-buyers early on, get into the habit of asking these types of qualifying questions during the initial call:
“I know we’re at the very early stages of this but please give me an idea of your time frame for making a decision on something like this.”
“If you like what you see in our demo, what would be the next steps for you?”
“What would hold you back from making a decision to move forward on something like this in the next two weeks?”
“Besides yourself, who would be making the final decision on this?”
“And what insight do you have on where they are leaning right now?”
“From what I’ve been describing so far, what are your initial thoughts on this?”
If any of these questions reveal that your prospect might not be a good fit or won’t buy at this time for any reason, then make a solid note of that and don’t become a pest by trying to persuade them to move earlier! The less time you spend pitching bad leads who aren’t going to buy, the more time you can spend finding the real buyers.
This is a big point, so here it is again:
Top 20% producers spend more time disqualifying out the non-buyers and so less time stuffing unqualified leads into their pipeline hoping they will close. They would rather lose early because it frees them up to find and spend more time with buyers later on. And this is what makes them top producers.
I challenge you to start losing more sales earlier in your sales process, so you can spend more time winning bigger deals more often.