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The Art of Disqualifying a Prospect

Why Disqualifying Matters More Than You Think

Having spent several years in B2B sales and managing sales reps, I believe that the art of disqualifying prospects is one of the most important and underappreciated aspect of succeeding in B2B sales.

It is natural in sales to feel like the more people that you get past each stage of the sales process, the better you will ultimately do. Turning away people that are willing to speak about your product is antithetical to the common Sales State of Mind.

So when the prospect says something that indicates that they might not be a good fit for your product, most sales reps tend to either ignore or combat these early indicators.

You know the situation: you are on an early call with a prospect and they give you some viable push back. This is a key opportunity for you to dig in a little.

 

Example 1

Here is an example of what a less experienced rep would do in the face of push back when selling SuccessKit:

Sales Rep 1: Once we have generated and uploaded about 30 total case studies into SuccessKit, we can begin to push this content right to your reps in Salesforce.

Prospect: 30 is a lot of case studies, it may take a while to document an example for almost all of our clients..

Sales Rep 1: Understood. This is exactly what we can help with, our clients typically are able to get this done in about 2-3 months.

 

This is exactly what many B2B sales reps do. They are focused only on making sure the cycle continues.

When you take this approach, since most people try to avoid conflict, often the prospect will agree with you in the moment and go along. You may get the feeling that you have “overcome their objection” and are on your way to winning.

In reality, here is what you have actually done:

  • Lost credibility –  It is more obvious than you realize to the buyer when you are looking to proclaim a fit no matter what.
  • Lost your shot – You have lowered your odds of getting to the bottom of the situation. In the event they actually are still a prospect, you spoiled the chance help them to see things differently by not actually listening.
  • Wasted time – You have increased the time you spend sending follow-ups, proposals, etc to someone that will not work with you.

These are disastrous outcomes to sales reps trying to be above mediocre.

 

How to Approach Disqualifying Prospects

So what do the best sales reps do instead? They seek the truth.

They do not relentlessly try to move sales cycles forward. Instead they are laser focused on truly understanding the situation, so they can decide if/when to move it forward and the best way to do so.

Top sales reps proactively look to (and are willing to) disqualify people.

 

Example 2

Here is an example of how a more effective sales rep would deal with the same push-back we saw in the first example:

Sales Rep 2: Once we have generated and uploaded about 30 total case studies into SuccessKit, we can begin to push this content right to your reps in Salesforce.

Prospect: 30 is a lot of case studies, it may take a while to document an example for every one of our clients.

Sales Rep 2: I see, that could be a problem. Let me explain. On average, companies can get a success story or case study documented from about 50% of their clients. If that is the case, it might not make sense to invest in a tool like SuccessKit. On the other hand, if you have a strong relationship with most/all of your clients, that number may be different for you. We helped another company document success stories for 75% of their client base.

The prospect will say something along the lines of either:

Interesting. We have a great relationship with our clients, so perhaps we could. How do you think about beginning the process?

or:

I don’t think we could get a case study done on more than half of them.

 

Instead of only thinking about what could make a fit, and seeing who they can fit into this box a top rep understands what makes people not a fit for their solution, and they make sure to learn this early on in the process.

It sounds simple, but this is not easy to do correctly. A sales rep needs to have a lot of credibility to get buyers to be honest with them, especially early on. In SaaS sales you have to build that trust really fast.  

The best sales reps think like strategists, they want to truly understand the situation so they can make the best possible decision, not just hear something that gives them hope.

Conclusion

In the examples above, if the prospect turns out not to have enough clients to warrant working with this vendor, it is almost certain they will figure out they are not a fit and never move forward.

If you qualify well, you find this out quickly. If you don’t qualify well, you find this out later. This is obvious enough.  

But what most people don’t appreciate, is that this does much more than save time.

Consider the way the second sales rep is perceived by the prospect versus the first rep.

When you show your prospects that you are really trying to figure out if this is a good fit for them, your relationship with your prospects will change dramatically. They will begin to ask you questions. They will really listen. They will communicate with you more like a peer.

Sales reps that build this level of credibility are far more likely to succeed, and it all starts with proper qualification.

Julian Lumpkin

Julian has focused his career on B2B sales and sales management, specifically bringing new technologies to market. After years as an elite sales rep, he began leading teams, specifically focused on coaching sales reps on how to be direct, credible, and respected throughout the sales process. Julian conceived of and designed SuccessKit when running an 18 person sales-team at Axial, a b2b startup, as a way to help sales reps have better conversations by utilizing customer success examples and other content more effectively.

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