The words, “ramble on,” might have helped make Robert Plant a Rock legend, but if you’re trying to qualify a sales lead, rambling is something you should try and avoid.
It can be more difficult than you might think to avoid rambling during the lead qualification process. Even experienced salespeople can hem and haw more often than they should in an effort to avoid coming on too strongly or as a way to try and establish a close relationship with a lead before it is necessary or feels natural to do so.
To be a lead qualification rock star, you have to determine whether a lead has interest in the product or solution, has the means to make a purchase, and has an actual need for the solution or can perceive its benefits—and you have to do it without being a nuisance or wasting anyone’s time. This is not an easy task!
If you’re a Led Zeppelin fan, you know that the words, “ramble on,” are followed by the lyrics, “sing my song,” and “on my way.” Keeping these lyrics in mind, try to qualify sales leads by getting your message across in a positive way, gathering the information you need without being overbearing or intrusive, and keeping the chit-chat to a minimum, especially if you become reasonably certain that the lead isn’t going to be viable.
Three tips to making a successful lead qualification call are:
1. Make the script your own.
Follow your lead qualification script in order to keep your message brief and to keep yourself on track, but change any language that feels unnatural for you, as an individual, to use in conversation. Often, you can calm any butterflies you may have or avoid sounding like a robot simply by making your greeting personal. Your greeting sets the tone for your call. Beginning a call by trying to sound like someone other than yourself is like being in a cover band; you might be able to get your audience’s attention, but you’ll never achieve the level of success that an original artist has the potential to achieve.
2. Strive for balance.
Any rock star knows that in order for a show to be a success, there has to be a balance between the low end and the high end. The bassist and drummer have to listen to what the lead guitarist and vocalist are doing, and vice versa, in order for a performance to truly move an audience. When you’re trying to qualify a lead, you can achieve balance by asking questions, acknowledging responses, and offering input (perhaps in the form of more questions). If you ask a question and allow someone to respond, but don’t acknowledge their response, or don’t use their response as a lead-in to your next question, you’re going to come across as someone who is just doing his or her job rather than as someone who has a genuine interest in solving problems and making a difference. Want your lead to listen and take an interest in what you have to offer? Listen to your lead and make sure your responses reflect that you’ve listened.
3. Remember big-picture goals.
Let’s face it: if you’re qualifying a lead, it’s likely that you’re the opening act rather than the headliner. As the opening act, you have a lot of responsibility. Leads may not have signed up to hear what you have to offer, but if you put on a memorable performance, they can become fans—and customers—for life. Remember that if you do qualify the lead, next steps will be to generate greater interest in your solution and company, set a sales appointment, and make the sale. You’ve got to maintain a positive attitude during each and every lead qualification call you make if you want to make a good impression and set yourself up for the next steps in the sales cycle. As the opening act, you have a lot of power. You can choose to either go through the motions or to warm up the audience in a way that makes the headliner, which, in most cases, is going to be your product or solution, the star of the show.
Another thing to remember is that like true rock stars, those who are truly skilled at lead qualification must practice and continually seek out new sources of inspiration in order to make what they do look and feel natural. In the beginning, you may be able to rely on talent and forced confidence to get the job done. To achieve long-term success, you have to make the script your own, achieve balance, and keep your company’s big-picture goals in mind. Do these three things, and eventually, you will become a headliner in leads’ eyes and in the eyes of management.