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Improve Qualifying Prospects and Managing the Sales Process

If you have sales reps spinning their wheels, pumping out proposals but not closing an acceptable percentage of business, they might need some help with qualifying and managing the sales process. In order to manage your sales people easily and effectively, you need to clarify expectations and build in some accountability steps.

Here are five ways to improve sales efforts by improving skills to qualify prospects and build accountability into sales processes.

Clarify and document your qualifiers. Make sure you define and document who a qualified prospect is for your business. As an example, I have listed the following criteria I use to qualify my clients:

  • Small privately owned business
  • 1-4 sales people
  • B2B selling model
  • Does not have a dedicated sales manager
  • There is a market for the product and services that are being sold
  • The company is willing to invest in infrastructure with growth in sales
  • Owners are willing to use an outsourced resource

In addition, require your reps to document to their manager how each prospect they pursue meets these requirements before they move forward. You can build the qualifiers into a Discovery Form.

Use a Discovery Form that will outline what a rep needs to know to qualify the prospect and build their Letter of Understanding. To learn more about a Discovery Form and download a sample click here.

Add a Letter of Understanding to your process. The Letter of Understanding will document that the rep understands the prospects current situation, their goals, needs and problems, and what the next steps in the sales process should be. The prospect will confirm that the rep has it right. The manager will now have a tool that lets them know their rep has a viable prospect and is planning the sales process as the company prefers. (Sample Letter of Understanding)

Require completion of Discovery Form and Letter of Understanding before proceeding to a presentation. This step builds in a true accountability step versus leaving it up to the sales reps opinion of when to move things along.

Make sure the reps understand and buy into a consultative sales process. If a rep has a lot of activity and not a lot of results, they may have been taught selling through the “show and tell” method versus a consultative approach. Show and tell reps are always trying to push their ideas, features and benefits onto a customer (anybody and everybody) in hopes of winning them over. The consultative rep understands the value of qualifying and discovery and will be more patient land that will lead to more sales.

The idea is to build real accountability into the sales process and stop reps from showing and telling. Some reps will have a resistance to new processes, but if they understand the value and how it will help them, they will begin to use the tools and the quality of opportunities will be improved.

Rene is the President of Sales Manager Now, a company that provides fractional sales management services to small and family-run businesses. He has twenty-seven years of experience in sales leadership, coaching, and consulting. He is also the author of the Part-Time Sales Management handbook and is based in Auburn, California.

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