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Qualifying Your Prospect
by
Wendy Weiss

How do you respond when an absolute stranger calls, at work or at home, and begins to ask questions? “Are you the person who…?” “What is your marketing strategy?” “Do you own or rent?” Even, “How are you today?”

Are you annoyed and put off by these questions? Do you respond, “I already have a vendor,” “I’m not interested,” “Send a brochure” or “What are you selling?” (These days my response is to tell these callers to read Cold Calling for Women!)

This question-asking strategy does not work. It does not work to qualify your prospect, and it does not work to set your prospect at ease. If anything, this strategy puts you at a disadvantage and makes your prospect not want to speak with you!

Here is a better approach: Allow your prospect to “self-qualify”—allow them to tell you that they are the decision-maker. This is how: Position yourself as the expert. Give your prospect a reason to want to speak with you, and set yourself up as the person with the credentials who has the right to ask questions. 

Use your script. Introduce yourself, your company and your product or service. Tell your prospect something about the above in such as way as to “stand out from the crowd.” Talk about your experience in the industry or your company’s credentials. Explain what you do in a way that is different from everyone else in the entire world that is doing something similar. 

Talk about your business and the unique benefits you offer. You can use phrases like “we specialize in…” or “our reputation is…” or “we are known for…” You can also name-drop credentials to help this “expert positioning.” Mention clients or customers in similar businesses as your prospect. This does two things: it lets your prospect know that you are familiar with their industry, and it also makes prospects feel safer if they have not heard of you before. If someone has referred you, mention her name. 

Once you set yourself up as the expert, then you are in a position to ask some of your predetermined qualifying questions. Ask them. This way, you are likely to get answers! In the ensuing conversation, the prospect will more than likely tell you that he or she is the decision-maker. If they do not, you can ask, “How is this decision made?” “Who else is involved in this decision?” “How has this decision been made in the past?” “What is your decision-making process?”

If you approach qualifying your prospect in this manner, you are setting up a relationship of equals. You are someone with expert credentials, someone with whom your prospect would want to talk. Your prospect will respond in kind. It is a far easier and far more effective way of qualifying prospects. 


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