We all get to hear the term qualified for the majority of Sales & Marketing activities.
Many assume it means the prospect is either a waste of time, or they are worth investing Time, Energy, & Money in pursuit of winning their business.
Of course we all want to know the outcome in advance, its human nature.
Yet this term is applied to everything in the marketing and sales funnel, mostly from a process perspective. Marketing wants to know what next piece of content should they send, or should they regress the prospect in the marketing funnel, or progress towards the point in time where a “convincer” can begin the process of closing the sale.
Sales people tend to do the same, yet the pressure to make plan typically compromises all rationality, leading sellers to inflate their funnels, just to be seen as competent. Of course most of this pipeline stuffing is just that - fluff with all the density of goose feathers. Activity managers are used to the “power of compliance” and group humiliation for those that don’t make their activity numbers. Playing self esteem games makes for a miserable work environment as any survivor will tell you.
On point, the real question we should be asking is “Qualified For What?”. In too many sales situations, the tendency is to subordinate people to the CRM process, what ever it is. In most cases, the CRM process has replaced, yet not replicated the information model and insights essential to telling us that we’ve established Relevancy, Credibility, Trust, Access, and Insight. For Activity managers, and true believers, the important thing is compliance with the defined sales process, no matter how destructive it is for the seller and the sales organization.
How can following a process be bad?
Process compliance is about you - your company. Buyers are people, not mere bystanders in your process. When people are talking about the Buyers Journey, it is often described in process terms instead of the shift from an Intuitive to Emotional to a Thoughtful decision to Change, and finally established in Physical reality.
If you want to improve your forecasting, you need improve your qualification first.
The six (6) essential areas to be qualified are the:
- Decision Process
These areas are almost always underweighted by Activity managers, sales people, and only superficially addressed by your CRM. Qualify better and you’ll find that you need fewer sales people to reach your objectives, consume less time, and invest less in marketing spend to make plan. Qualify well and you will have the luxury of growing your revenue generating team to meet expanced growth targets.
Sales tends to be pretty good at the first two on our list, yet for the remaining four(4), qualification is relatively weak. The impact affects the CFO, the CRO/CMO, and the CEO with declining PE and equity value. For consulting and engineering firms satisfied that business just comes to them, ask yourself if you win 100% of that business, and any of the business you chase where you are simply 1 of three.
Ask yourself what does it cost you to LOSE that business.
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