*The art picture provided by Zenaviv project. The artist - Lee Jaworek, the art title - 'Rainbow Village'.

Effective lead qualification means that you know exactly which questions to ask and when to ask them. Your goal is to uncover your prospect's motivation, without seeming invasive or disingenuous, and then determine whether or not these match the services that your business can provide. To do this, here are six important questions to ask your prospective client:

What are your current issues?

Understanding the prospect's current problems is the "meat and potatoes" of any sales process. Inquire about why they are looking for a new service or a change in providers. Learning about these needs will help you build a solution that caters specifically to these problems. Sometimes it takes a bit of probing because customers may not have looked deeply enough into their problems to understand what they'll need moving forward. Therefore, you may have to draw this information out with follow-up questions.

What are your timeframes?

Timelines are important to know upfront because your own business, like all others, has a certain bandwidth for offering the best service. Trying to expand beyond this can mean a drop in quality and, as a result, customer satisfaction. It's crucial to understand what your prospects are expecting in terms of delivery in order to determine if you can meet their expectations.

How did you find our company?

Setting up a good rapport with a prospective client can mean the difference between a prospect who returns your call, and one who doesn't. It's all about the relationship. No matter how good your products or services may be, at the end of the day, people would rather buy from people they feel they can trust. Here are a few questions that can help build rapport:

  • How did you hear about our services?
  • Was there a particular benefit that stood out to you?
  • Who is your current provider? What are you looking for in a new provider?

When you uncover your prospect's reasons for inquiring about your services, you'll slowly begin to build the foundation of a good relationship.

to build the foundation of a good relationship

What solutions have you tried previously? Why didn't they work?

Since you don't want to lead the prospect down a road to a solution that they may already be familiar with, it's important to know how they've tried to fix their issue(s) in the past. What have other vendors tried? What were the results? Once you have this insight, you can mark off solutions that may be time-wasters, and earn points with the prospect for introducing new ideas to help them solve their problem.

What are your must-have features/benefits?

Asking the prospect for this information forces them to communicate clear boundaries of what they're seeking. It's easy for consumers to add desired benefits, and increase the scope of a solution, without even realizing it. For example, how many times have you heard stories of someone doing a simple home renovation that turned into way more than it was supposed to? If there are things that your prospect needs for which you can't offer a solution, then it's best to discuss this upfront.

What is your allocated budget?

This is arguably the most important qualifier when working with a new prospect. Knowing their budget expectations upfront helps avoid any last-minute surprises when they receive their invoices. If you provide a premium service requiring a premium price, it won't be advantageous to prioritize a potential client who simply can't afford it.

When you receive new leads, whether it be online or offline, be sure to ask the right questions that will quickly move the prospective client through your qualification process. The faster you qualify a lead, the more time you'll have to follow up on other leads!