Ruthless Qualification – 3 Ways to Save Time

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A year ago, we posted this blog article “I will pretend to sell, if you pretend to buy”. This was a mantra of my old boss and friend, Sherwin Uretsky and one of his famous “12 sins of selling” that I am still trying to remember.

I thought I would dust off the conversation and reinforce the ideas with three key  points.

Image Credit: VigLink

Most of us are time-starved. We have limited bandwidth to chase every opportunity and we need to pick our battles and learn when to say no. Fortunately, we have a new weapon – the web – to help our buyers self-select. If a client visits our website, I hope we do a good job of clarifying our value proposition (it is not easy and always requires work). In the end, I hope they opt-in, but if they are looking for something different than what we offer, I am happy for them to identify that on their own.

Similarly, when we recruit – for ourselves or for our clients – it is far more satisfying to get to yes or get to no quickly. This is beneficial to both parties. Yet this doesn’t always happen!

So, what are some things that help make this work?

Here are a few ideas:

1) Give away the details online – Offer as much as you can for prospects to dive into online so they can self-select. It is our instinct to get them on the phone so we can pitch our services or our job opening, but it is frustrating when we spend a lot of time only to find that a simple criteria is an obstacle to doing business.

2) Use Scotsman or a structured qualification method – Scotsman stands for:  Solution; Competition; Originality; Time Scales; Size; Money; Authority; Need. Use a structured method each time (like Scotsman). Figure out as quickly as possible the spectrum of qualification against these elements and try to avoid convincing yourself that there is an opportunity when there really is not. Another model is from TAS  – four questions: 1) Is there an opportunity? 2) Can we compete? 3) Can we win? 4) Is it worth winning?

3) Propose after the “yes” – This is one I am guilty of a bit too often. I develop a proposal before I am 100% (or at least 90%) clear on what the client wants and whether the decision is clearly in our favor assuming we can satisfy the need. While it is rarely 100% certain,  I try to first outline the solution and gain mutual agreement with the client that the solution is a fit and the intention is to move forward with our team. This exchange is with emails and conversations. Hopefully, at this point, the proposal is just a formality. The proposal might simply be a confirming letter or an SOW, but it shifts away from being the selling document to one that specifies the solution or work to be performed. The selling was already accomplished.

I hope these three points help you. Good luck and good selling!

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