Seth Godin, author of Purple Cow, released a book called The Dip. In it he debunks the myth attributed to Vince Lombardi that “winners never quit and quitters never win.” In fact, as he outlines in the book, winners quit quite often. By abandoning losing situations early, winners have the ability to focus on the opportunities that are real, power through the “dip” in meaningful progress that naturally occurs, and ultimately become world class in their field of expertise.
As I was reading this book, it occurred to me that this same principle is 100% applicable to salespeople. The best, most successful salespeople are those who aggressively qualify the opportunities that aren’t real out of their pipelines as soon as it makes sense to do so.
As I teach in the CustomerCentric Selling® sales training workshops I instruct, “qualification” is not a single event in the sales process. Rather, it is a continuum.
In other words, as a salesperson works on an opportunity, it should become increasingly qualified as different milestones are passed. For example, when a salesperson engages with a prospect, the following qualification questions should be answered:
1. Will they share the business goals and objectives behind their interest in my offering?
2. Will they help me understand their current business environment and the capabilities they feel they are going to need moving forward?
3. Will the person I’m speaking with help me gain access to the other key players who I want or need access to?
4. Will the other key players on the buying committee share their goals and objectives?
5. Will the other key players on the buying committee let me take them through the “visioning” process?
6. Will the buying committee agree to a documented, mutually agreed to plan of how they would like to evaluate my capabilities?
7. If they are asking me to do things for them as part of the sales cycle, are they willing to do anything in return? (i.e. Is there a quid pro quo?)
8. Can we reach a win/win final agreement?
As each of these questions, in sequence, is answered and the milestone is effectively passed, the opportunity becomes better and better qualified. The difference between the average salesperson and the world class salesperson is the ability of the world class salesperson to accept the negative answer to one of the questions and use that as an opportunity to either change their strategy or qualify the deal out of their pipeline.
As we say in the thirteenth and final core concept of CustomerCentric Selling®, “Bad news early is good news.” The question is: Are you willing to hear the news your prospects are giving you?