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Get Your Prospects MAD
Sales Concepts on Qualifying Prospects

You probably think you need prospects to like you before they'll buy. How about getting them MAD?

A key part of every salesperson's responsibilities is to keep their respective sales funnel full of potential opportunities. The opportunities can be new; some can be "organic" (from existing business). Either way, both count based on the prospecting you have done to drive business.

Whether you are at a trade show, over the phone, or face-to-face at a customer's facility, you will need to quickly determine a prospect's legitimacy. Wouldn't it be great if legitimate prospects wore buttons that said "I'm The Man!" (or Woman). Of course, selling is not that simple and the challenge of identifying the legitimate prospect is part of the fun and excitement of selling.

The best way to identify a legitimate prospect is to ask questions to see if your prospect is really MAD. No, we don't mean whether or not he is angry with you, but whether he is MAD enough to buy from you. In sales, MAD means the prospect has the Money, Authority and Desire to buy.

First, determine if your prospect has the Money. Ask questions to find out if the project is funded or budgeted. If not, it could be an uphill battle to acquire the funding and therefore your sale will be in jeopardy. If the prospect does not have the money, he or she is probably not a legitimate prospect. If your prospect is a publicly held enterprise or large public institution it is fairly easy to assess the financial status of the company. Information is available on the Internet, SEC, and other sources of public records. However if your prospect is a privately held company or you are dealing with a small division of a larger company, data on money may not be readily available.

So how do you find out if your prospect has the money to buy? Following are some sample questions you can ask to determine the financial status of your prospect. This list is by no means exhaustive and you may need to re-word some of the questions to make them work for you.

  • How do you plan to finance this project? Are you planning to lease or purchase outright?
  • Will this purchase be covered under a capital budget or an operational budget or some combination of the two?
  • Will you be working with any third party lenders for this project or acquiring financing from another source?
  • How have you funded projects like this in the past?
  • Will the funds for this project come out of your budget or someone else's?
  • Is this purchase part of a larger program?
  • How would you like our companies to work together?

A more bold approach, but one that many customers appreciate is to just state your price up front and see if your prospect has a problem with it.

Second, even if funding is available, you need to know if your prospect holds the second key, the Authority to OK the funding for the project. Are you really talking to the Economic Buyer or someone who only reports to the Economic Buyer? Your biggest clue is if the prospect says something like "They will have to look at this."

There are many ways to determine if the person with whom you are working has the authority to make the buying decision. Listen to the pronouns used. If you hear words like "he" "she" "they" "we" or a name like Bob or Sue you know someone else is involved. You better find out who.

Good questioning and listening skills are essential to determine if the person with whom you are working truly has the authority to say yes. Here are some sample questions to help you get started.

  • Please tell me how you will be making your decision to move forward.
  • Who else besides your self will be involved in implementing this decision?
  • How will you measure the success of this project?
  • What are the main criteria on which you will base your decision?
  • Is there anyone else besides you with whom we should be working?
  • What is your time frame for delivery? When do you intend to make a decision?
  • Who is going to oversee the installation and delivery of materials?

Finally, you need to discover whether your prospect has the Desire to get this deal done. Is your return on investment compelling enough to save the prospect significant dollars or allow the company to grow their revenues? If so, you'll know you are talking to a legitimate prospect. Again use the proper questions to determine the level of desire for your prospect to make a decision.

  • How do you see this impacting your organization?
  • What other alternatives are you considering?
  • How are you planning to cost justify this purchase?
  • What do you consider the key components for successful implementation?
  • If you could change something about your current situation what would it be?
  • What are your goals for your organization for the next X months/years?
  • What is it costing you to postpone this decision?

Keeping your sales funnel full of prospects is essential to successful selling. Remember to determine how MAD your prospects are, so you can focus your sales efforts on the legitimate prospects that have the money, authority and desire to buy.

Since 1981, Sales Concepts provides training programs for people who work in sales, service, telemarketing, and management. Sales Concepts' approach to training tailors each program for the individual, not just the industry or company. Experiential training makes each Sales Concepts' program unique. Attendees feel the class is created just for them. These customized programs lead to measurably improved performance. Visit for more information.
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