Do you have a sales qualification process in place for your customer deals? No? Not sure? Yes – but it’s not working very well? Then read this…
Organizations with sales teams fall into one of two camps when it comes to qualifying sales opportunities or customer deals.
Either you have a sales opportunity qualification process in place, or you don’t.
When we talk about qualifying sales ops, what we mean is that you have a company recognised method of deciding whether a sales opportunity is valid or not – so for example, that could mean, the customer has the budget, the timescales are defined and there is an actual need for your product. Gartner explains Sales Qualification as “the process of evaluating leads to determine their likelihood to make a purchase”, which is a pretty perfect way of putting it.
Unfortunately, qualifying sales ops is often seen by salespeople as a waste of time – some people see it as an unnecessary admin task – but the truth is that properly qualifying your sales ops is as important to a sales rep as it is to the company’s reporting activities.
If you don’t have a sales qualification process in place, then we’re going to look at why you should. And if you already have one in place, we’re going to talk about why it’s important to check that everyone is on board with why they’re qualifying leads and to have a check-in to make sure your sales qualification process is actually working for you. (We have a free MEDDIC Sales Qualification Guide you might want to check out if you are involved with selling complex or high-value deals).
Firstly, let’s look at a few reasons why qualifying sales opportunities is so so important. We often create qualification processes for the sake of them, without thinking about why we’re doing it. This can mean we fall into the trap of having an out of date, irrelevant qualification process that no one follows.
Why you need a Sales Qualification Criteria or Process in place: It focuses your efforts on people who are actually going to buy
Salespeople can waste a lot of time talking to people who are never going to buy. They’re just kicking the tyres, stringing you along, or perhaps they fully intend to purchase but the reality is they don’t have the budget or authority. They’d love to buy, but they’re just enthusiastic prospects without the means to actually go ahead and purchase your product or service.
Because we get excited when a customer shows some interest, it can blind us to some of the red flags that are missing, namely whether the customer has the authority, budget, business need or deadline by which they need to purchase.
A qualification process reminds us of these red flags and helps us to critically assess a sales situation so that we’re only spending time with customers who are actually going to buy.
A Sales Qualification Process helps you focus on your target customer profile
Ok, reason number two why you need a qualification process: it helps us to focus on who we should be looking for when it comes to target customers.
Without a qualification process, we can end up with too broad a prospect base to concentrate our limited time and resources on.
With a clear qualification process in place, we can whittle down our prospect list to focus on customers who are more likely to have the budget, scale, authority or business requirement that fits our product or service.
A good Deal Qualification Criteria will weed out those ‘weird’, ‘not quite sure about ’em’, ‘something’s a little funny’ deals.
Reason number 3 for having a good sales opportunity qualification process in place is that sometimes, everything can look right on paper, but something is missing in a customer deal. Something just feels off. Having a qualification process in place where you review deals with your manager or senior colleagues gives you a good check in opportunity to discuss and analyse the deals you’re working on.
It gives Sales Enablement and Sales Leaders a framework to discuss customer deals with sales teams – encouraging the sharing of information and insights across the sales department. This not only provides opportunities for coaching to take place, but helps to make sure CRM systems are accurately updated so that opportunities that aren’t properly qualified aren’t being left in CRM tools.
Do you already have a Sales Opportunity Qualification process in place?
So now we’ve talked about the ‘why’s’ – let’s discuss what you should do if you already have a sales opportunity qualification process in place but are feeling like it’s just not delivering many benefits for your business.
So, step 1: Find out if people are actually using the qualification process.
Speak to your sales teams and find out if it’s being used to help them do their jobs, or is just there as an admin exercise. If sales teams don’t feel it delivers any value to them, then they won’t use your qualification process to its full potential.
This means you’ll end up with salespeople working on the wrong deals. If a team of 6 salespeople all work on just 3 deals that don’t meet your qualification criteria, and each of those deals takes up 20 hours of time across the year – that’s 360 wasted hours – and it’s probable that each deal takes much more than 20 hours of time in a year.
When you scale the problem across multiple sales people, you can see why not following a qualification process will have a huge productivity impact on your sales operation.
Step 2 is to then review your current deal qualification criteria and tailor it to your company.
Instead of saying – does the customer have the right authority to make a decision – think about the job role within a customer who usually makes the decision. For example, you might need an IT Director or equivalent to sign off deals within customers. Be specific about what that authority looks like in your company.
Talk to your sales team about what is working, or what isn’t working about the current qualification criteria. Ask them what would make it more relevant to their sales opportunities.
Step 3 – educate everyone involved in the sales process about why a sales qualification process is so important.
Explain about the impact on time, resources and internal budgets when you work on the wrong sales opportunities. Explain about how much easier it would be to align resources to their live deals if you could be sure that everyone was only working on qualified customer deals.
Share any data you might have collected about the impact of unqualified deals within your organisation – for example, the average time spent working on sales opportunities in your company and how that extrapolates across your company if everyone works on a couple of unqualified opportunities every month.
So – we’ve gone through quite a lot there – and over in the Sales Hub we have a free MEDDIC guide and downloadable MEDDIC template (MEDDIC is a qualification tool that many companies who have large deal sizes use to qualify their sales opportunities).