One of the most important aspects of selling is being able to show your value in a way that your prospect understands. You want to be sure that you not only invite in the clients who are right for you, but also your offer serves THEM in the best possible way.
Here’s a time-tested business truth: qualifying your clients BEFORE you make an offer is critical to your longevity. It’s the best way to ensure that your mission-driven business moves forward, you don’t get burned out, and you serve the people who need you the most.
Of course, you’ve got to have your standards. That’s where the qualifying process begins for most of us.
But what about THE match being based on what the CLIENT is looking for, too?
That comes down to three things…
First, knowing who you are, what you stand for, and what value you provide.
Second, understanding what constitutes VALUE in your client’s eyes…and delivering what they actually want.
Third, making sure that you show your value so they know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are the one with their dream solution.
Now, here’s where the question of “value” takes on a different turn…
Believe it or not, “value” isn’t a one-size-fits-all thing. Much like beauty, what constitutes quality depends on who you ask.
So you have to know not only what you provide for the client, but also if you have the solution that your prospect actually WANTS.
You see, value is a two-way street. And in order for the deal to fly, you BOTH have to agree on what the perfect solution actually IS.
That might not be the same for everyone. And qualifying your clients comes down to knowing what your prospect wants, and deciding if your solution will fill the bill.
Too often when we’re attempting to define our dream clients, we get hung up on demographics and preconceived ideas about niches. All well and good if you’re filling out an ideal client avatar worksheet.
But when you’re talking to a real-live human being, going into it with a generalized “must have” checklist will have you missing out on a lot of important details about the person in front of you.
Details that could close the deal for you if you know them. Or cost you a sale if you don’t.
My friend, colleague, and host of The Sales Evangelist Podcast, Donald C. Kelly, had an incident a while back that taught him this lesson in big-time fashion.
Back then, Donald was selling electronic health records software to healthcare practitioners. And there was one medical practice in particular that looked like a sure thing–to the tune of a $200,000 to $300,000 sale.
Naturally, you can imagine how motivating those numbers must have sounded.
“It was a large deal, and I was excited about it. Our vendors and distributors were excited for it as well,” says Donald.
“So I’m sitting here jumping at the bit,” says Donald. “They had interest in our software. And because of that interest, I was like, ‘Holy cow, this is going to be amazing! Let me start preparing proposals for them!’”
From all outward appearances, it looked like it was going to be a slam-dunk. The client had the money. They had the need for what his company was offering. They were ready to buy. What could possibly go wrong?
“So I went in with blazing saddles and gave them a proposal. I thought that when they got the proposal, it would go straight to the top decision-makers, and we’d get them on board.”
How did the client respond? With straight-up radio silence.
And to add insult to injury, the client eventually went to a competitor that was both bigger and more expensive.
So what happened? Why did a client with a serious need end up buying from another vendor with a higher price tag?
“It was just the fact that my value wasn’t there. I didn’t know what they were looking for, and didn’t know what to deliver,” says Donald.
In other words, instead of getting to know the customer, determining their need, and make a mutual decision about working together, Donald gave in to overzealousness. And made a rookie mistake.
“I could’ve easily found out the details about this client by picking up a brochure in their office. Or looking at their website. But I didn’t take the time to do that. As far as the things that mattered most to them, I had no clue.”
So how does this relate to qualifying clients?
When the value that you provide matches the value that the client is looking for, that’s a powerful qualifying factor in itself. And it’s one that a lot of salespeople and entrepreneurs outright miss.
That means taking the time to know your clients beyond the basics. Find out what value means to them, show your value, and decide if you are the person who can deliver it to them.
And from there, taking the time to show your value in ALL its glory without skipping steps or jumping to conclusions.
As a coach and mentor, Donald has taught this process to numerous clients. And wouldn’t you know it…he’s seen a trend.
When the clients that he coaches create their own sales processes that address the client’s needs AND demonstrates their own unique solutions, their conversion rates speak for themselves.
But when they jump the gun and ask for the sale before proving their worth, radio silence from the client is usually the result.
When you skip steps in your own sales process, you actually disqualify yourself. But if you hold your fire, take it one step at a time, and show your client what you can do for them BEFORE talking money, a mutually beneficial decision (and a YES!) is a lot more likely.
“In those clients who went radio silent, I know exactly what happened. I skipped over steps. I didn’t do the qualifications.” says Donald. “I didn’t build value with them. So when I jumped too early to price, they were put off because they didn’t realize the value we were giving and the problem we were solving.”
And sometimes, when you don’t qualify yourself with your clients, it does more than rob you of a sale. You might just cheat the client out of getting the solutions that they desperately need.
Donald shares another story in which he was on a discovery call that seemed like it was a done deal. So he moved forward a little bit too quickly, only to realize that he’d left the client behind. And it turned out to be another “Thanks, but no thanks” moment.
“The client didn’t see the strong enough value in making the decision right now,” says Donald. “So she went with a free program from someone else instead.”
What happened next was fascinating…
Turns out that with the free option, the client got what they paid for. And eventually saw the need to enlist Donald’s help.
“Now a year later, we’re having that sales conversation again,” says Donald. “And we’ll make it work this time.”
So skipping the necessary steps just might disqualify the entire deal. The client’s problem remains unsolved, you miss out on a sale, and nobody wins.
“The moral obligation that you have, knowing what you know, is to help your clients,” says Donald. “And if you’re not doing that, you’re not only jeopardizing your own interests but also your client’s interests.”
Here’s the bottom line: when you know you have something of value to share, it’s up to you make sure that people know it. This is how you show your value and qualify yourself to your clients.
Then take the time to learn about your prospects, key in on their definition of value, and see if the two of you were indeed made for each other.
If you do this successfully, it’ll help you qualify your clients with laser-sharp precision more quickly and efficiently. And as with every step in the qualification process, it will save everyone time, money, and struggle.
Sure, that might seem logical, or even obvious. But just because we know better doesn’t always guarantee DOING better.
“Theoretically, we all know what to do in sales conversations,” says Donald. “It’s in the implementation that we fall short.”
How can you start using this often overlooked but hugely effective qualification step and help you zero in on ideal clients with laser-sharp efficiency? But putting together a simple sales process that shows your value as well as connects with your client’s needs!
My new checklist will help you show your value and understand what THEY are looking for. And help guide you to the prospects who need JUST what you have.