Qualification is a continuum, not an event. Qualification is actually a series of milestones that, when each one is passed, an opportunity gets better and better qualified.
Frank Visgatis, CEO, CustomerCentric Selling
Were you taught to qualify an opportunity by asking traditional questions about budget, timing, and decision maker? Once you have a “qualified” opportunity, do you have trouble recognizing changes? Or even letting it go?
In CustomerCentric Selling® we teach qualifying an opportunity as an ongoing activity and at each stage of the buying process we look for behavioral indicators of whether we are truly in a position to win. Nothing is harder to face than investing 6 months or more in an opportunity only to lose in the end.
They milestones we use in the continuum are the same ones we teach you to help you manage your pipeline and they are based on our core concepts.
First, of course, is the goal. Is the customer willing to share it? Are they willing to help you understand the current situation and the cost of leaving it unchanged? Remember no goal, no prospect.
Are they willing to work with you on diagnosing the current situation in order to identify the costs involved? Human beings only change when they see considerably more benefit in changing than in remaining the same.
Are they willing to answer your vision/value questions? When you ask them your Event-Question-Player-Action questions to test whether your capabilities can make a difference, will they help you assess the value of those capabilities?
Will they introduce you to others, especially above the power line, to help you get different perspectives and goals? Will they discuss their buying process?
Remember the Project Timeline or Sequence of Events? Are they willing to sign up for that with you in order to make sure nothing gets missed along the way to a successful implementation?
Remember, at any point your status may change. The best way to know that is to watch their behavior. Are you still preferred? Or are you being outsold? You always have the option to walk away rather than beating your head against a customer’s door hoping they will reward your persistence. They won’t . Thy will make the best business decision they can. And at the end, wouldn’t you rather win than be relieved that you lost and the pain has finally stopped?