We wrote about cold call reluctance earlier this week (see My New Hire Won’t Make Cold Calls). Qualifying a prospect is one of the most critical phases in the sales cycle is another area where we see reps exhibiting reluctance. After the initial call is made, qualifying is one of the most feared phases in the sales cycle, particularly for more junior reps. Sales people hesitate to pose qualifying questions to their prospects and there are several possible reasons:

  • The rep simply doesn’t know the value of qualifying prospect or understand how it is done
  • The rep does not want to upset the prospects by asking uncomfortable questions.
  • The rep is afraid that the qualifying questions may prove a deterrent to a long-term relationship with the prospect/client.
  • The rep does not want to spoil their own image in front of prospects.

To be successful, sales people need to get over these hurdles and this is where a sales manager can really help. The first step is understanding the value of qualifying questions:

  • Separates good prospects from those that are unlikely to buy, which allows the rep to spend the most time with the best prospects
  • Increase understanding of prospects company/business needs – This will be a response to the ‘What are your needs?’ kind of questions which help a rep optimally position his or her product/service offering.
  • Better understanding of the prospect’s intentions – This will be a response to the ‘Why do you want this?’ or ‘How will it help you?’ kind of questions, which again enable better position of the reps offering.
  • Understanding the buyer’s plans – This will be in response to questions about their schedule for taking action which is critical to gauging urgency ad motivation to buy.
  • Knowing the stakeholders – This will be a response to the ‘Who in your company will make the decision?’ kind of questions, which help to identify who needs to be convinced that the purchase makes sense.

Basically, the sales qualifying questions are a sum of what, why, when, and who, which drive towards a successful sale.

Working with reps to understand how qualifying makes them successful is critical. Understanding where your rep is hung up is the first step.

To your success!


Eliot Burdett

CEO at Peak Sales Recruiting
Before Peak, Eliot spent more than 20 years building and leading companies, where he took the lead in recruiting and managing high performance sales teams. He co-founded Ventrada Systems (mobile applications) and GlobalX (e-commerce software). He was also Vice President of Sales for PointShot Wireless.

Eliot received his B. Comm. from Carleton University and has been honored as a Top 40 Under 40 Award winner.

He co-authored Sales Recruiting 2.0, How to Find Top Performing Sales People, Fast and provides regular insights on sales team management and hiring on the Peak Sales Recruiting Blog.

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