Qualifying the Customer

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Clipboard-1067035_1920When I started my business, I was like many other new business owners—no sales background.  I just wanted to try to sell to anyone who would let me talk to them.  So I hired a sales consultant who was constantly arguing with me, telling me I had to qualify my prospects before making my sales calls. 

My arguments for not qualifying can be summarized as follows:

  1. Sales is an energy business.  Just getting out there and speaking to people is valuable from an energy-generation point of view.
  2. You could be wrong.  You might think that Prospect X obviously has no use for your product, but you don’t know this for sure.
  3. It helps desensitize you to rejection, and you get to practice your objections on a relatively unimportant prospect.
  4. The time you waste guessing if someone is interested or not could be used more effectively by just asking him or her. 

The argument my sales consultant used for qualifying was that it costs an enormous amount of effort, human capital, and money to make a sales call.  You simply cannot afford to waste time and money on people who aren’t sincerely interested.  You need to target higher-quality prospects rather than a higher quantity.  Quality and convertibility are what’s important.  In other words, go where the money is. 

Over the years, I discovered how correct he was. 

I quickly learned that my success ratio with prospects increased when I reminded myself before and during every meeting, “I am concerned about my customer’s NEADS. I will discover my customer’s true needs, and lead my customers to the right product or service for them.” 

Satisfying NEADS helps you accomplish more in your business.  What is NEADS?

  1. N is for “now”.  What does the customer have now?  If you know what your prospect has now, you have a good idea of the type of person he is, and you have a good idea of what he will want to have in the future.
  2. E is for “enjoy”.  You need to know what the customer enjoys about what they have now.  What was his major motivation for getting involved with it?
  3. A is for “alter”.  What would the customer like to alter or improve about what he has now?
  4. D is for “decision”.  Specifically, you need to know who will be making the final decision on the sale. 

This is a skill that you can improve even if you are not a natural salesperson (trust me, I’m not).  Once you remember to qualify your customer and work to meet their needs, you will see your sales increase dramatically.