In the Targeting Markets Tutorial, we discussed how marketers should only pursue customers who are qualified to make purchases. Much of what was discussed in that tutorial also applies to salespeople in that not all sales leads hold the potential for becoming sales prospects. The reasons someone may not be a prospect are similar to what was discussed in the Targeting Markets tutorial and include:
Cannot be Contacted – Some prospects may fit the criteria for being a prospect but gaining time to meet with them may be very difficult (e.g., high-level executives).
Need Already Satisfied – Prospects may have already purchased a similar product offered by a competitor and, thus, may not have the need for additional products.
Lack Financial Capacity – Just because someone has a need for a product does not mean they can afford it. Lack of financial capacity is major reason why sales leads do not become prospects.
May Not Be Key Decision Maker – Prospects may lack the authority to approve the purchase.
May Not Meet Requirements to Purchase – Prospects may not meet the requirements for purchasing the product (e.g., lack other products needed for seller’s product to work properly).
The process of determining whether a sales lead has the potential to become a prospect is known as “qualifying” the lead. In some cases, a sales lead can be qualified by the seller prior to making first contact. For instance, this can be done through the use of research reports, such as an evaluation of a company’s financial position using publicly available financial reporting services. More likely, sellers will not be in a position to qualify leads until they establish contact with a lead, which may occur in activities associated with either Making Initial Contact or The Sales Meeting.