Gone are the days where you can simply dump more leads into your sales funnel to produce more sales. To make the most of your sales time you should be spending time with only those prospects that are genuinely interested in your product or service. But how do you qualify them for this?

What qualifies your prospects varies from business to business, but how you qualify them can be quite common across industries and is a useful part of making a sale. Think about the time you would save if you only sold to people who are already educated on what you do and are interested in engaging with you. The biggest sales hurdles are already overcome!

CRM scoring

If you use a CRM to track your sales then you’re ahead of the game. Most CRMs have a scoring feature which let’s you set up a series of points per action until their activity deems it worthwhile to reach out. For example, they may download a whitepaper, subscribe to your blog and attend a webinar. These actions show interest and reaching out could prove valuable. If, however, they have only downloaded a whitepaper or two they may only be interested in sourcing information at this point. Pushing a sale could alienate them and be a waste of time on your part. Knowing your specific scoring formula takes a bit of trial and error but allows you to build relationships with many prospects simultaneously in little time. Scoring can vary depending on your content and sales process.

If you don’t use a CRM there are many that are available for small businesses e.g. Active Campaign, ZOHO, etc. But you can at least begin tracking your sales, contacts and prospects on an Excel spreadsheet.

Phone calling

Scheduling a phone call is a pretty clear show if interest. Cold calling, however, is hit or miss and can have a poor return if not done correctly. I’ve had calls from companies as soon as I’ve downloaded something from their site. Or they call me a week after I downloaded and I have no idea who they are. Using a great call script that asks the right questions and clearly states any benefits to them is a step in the right direction. However, no call script will save you from annoying someone who is not ready to receive a call in the first place.

Unqualified calls become an invasion of space and time especially if they are basing my interest on a single action e.g. downloading a whitepaper. Warming your relationship with prospects is an important part of qualifying. Knowing what their concerns and needs are can go a long way in a sales call because you’ll be able to speak to them on subjects that show you understand what they need and know what they’re looking for. Calling to LEARN those things is annoying for the recipient.

Learning their needs

Track their interests

Know what they’ve downloaded and subscribed to on your website. If they’ve attended an event of yours make sure it’s in their file. IF they’ve asked questions note them. It’s easier to reach out and get a good response if you can connect on a subject that they actually want to learn about or need help with.

Offer clear CTAs that speak to their presumed needs

Make sure it’s easy for them to reach out to you. If they read a blog post, make sure there’s a link to download a paper on that topic somewhere on that post. If they download it, you now have their email address and can follow-up and ask about any questions. Or you can send them further information on the topic (next level insights).

Create events that are easy for them to attend and learn from

Running events can be an amazing way to attract new prospects, but you can also run events to move prospects along your sales cycle. A webinar or other virtual event is an ideal type of event that allows you to spend time with the prospect with minimal commitment from them. This makes it easy for them to ask real-time questions and gauge your skill level for their specific area of need. Offering a 1-on-1 call as a CTA would be smart here. These don’t work as well on new prospects or cold leads, but can be great on warm ones. Live events require more commitment from prospects but their attendance makes a sales probable. And again, make it easy for them to reach out and take advantage of the recent contact they’ve had with you. Send an email to recap with a personal note or reach out with a quick phone call (especially if you chatted at this event) to follow-up and offer some kind of personal meeting or sit down to further discuss their interest.

Have the answers

No matter what you do, make sure you have a clear plan and path through your sales cycle – for every stage. You should track all efforts so you know what works and what doesn’t. What are clear indications of interest and what are not? When does a phone call seal the deal and when does it annoy? What’s the best follow-up method for you? What are the magic phrases that push your prospect to lead and to then to customer? Is there an average time it takes to convert a prospect to a lead? A lead to a customer? What are your conversion rates?

Carolyn Bergshoeff is the founder of WindWater Marketing, a small business marketing firm based out of Toronto, Canada. Carolyn helps her clients design the most effective sales path for them – complete with content, social media, events, tracking and scoring. To learn how WindWater Marketing can help you, visit www.windwatermarketing.ca or email hello@windwater.ca