A note to a new TM: Separate the prospects from the suspects.

My friend,

By now you’ve realized that not every cold call or new business meeting leads to treasure. I happen to think it’s nearly the opposite. Nonetheless, you’re responsible for adding well-qualified buyers to your territory. I recommend applying a systematic method for gauging potential and the matter-of-fact discipline needed to separate prospects from suspects.

Try this. Write down the names of all of the potential clients in your pipeline. Whittle it down to those with whom you’ve had a least one meeting with.

Considering these potential clients, answer the following questions with either “Yes” or “No.” If the answer to the majority of the questions is “Yes” then treat the potential as a legitimate prospect and continue the conversion. If the answer is “No” then I recommend moving on or at least asking a colleague or sales leader for additional perspective.

  1. Are there problems in their business that they’ve tried to solve before but couldn’t? This indicates that the door may still be open for a solution sales opportunity.
  2. Have they shared proprietary information–the inside scoop? Matt Dixon categorizes these individuals as “Mobilizers” in that they’re willing to share certain information in order to mobilize either their team or yours toward new action and new directions.
  3. Are they dissatisfied with the current solutions or work-arounds to any existing problem? If they’re not willing to disrupt the status quo then they’re not willing to seriously consider your value proposition.
  4. Are they willing to share a critical unmet need? In other words, are they proactively looking for ways to make progress?
  5. Are you able to determine a timeline for a decision to work together?
  6. Do you know how they define a successful vendor partnership?
  7. Do you know what they value? Have you asked them, “How or why have you made decisions like this in the past?” in order to understand their motivation for change?
  8. Are you dealing with the decision maker?

You may be thinking, “I had to answer “No” to every question. That’s ok. It means that you have to work harder to gain deeper insights as to your future clients’ actual potential. You’re not spending time with the right candidates. You may also be thinking, “Based on this criteria every business in my pipeline is a bust.” Also ok. You just saved you and your organization a lot of valuable time. Reboot and start over.

As they say, “You can’t wish horns on a doe.”

Published by Matt Plughoff

Exploring the next evolution of small business success.

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