Friday, July 6, 2012

Sales Training and Dis-Qualifying a Prospect

I had to release a sales rep (Bob) from our company. He just wasn't hitting his numbers, despite plenty of coaching, sale training and warnings. Bob's accounts were transitioned to another sales rep (Ted). Bob had one of his accounts fore casted to close for several months at 75% probability or higher, for at least three months.

One day after transitioning the account to Ted, the CEO of this prospective company, who Bob was not dealing with, called and asked if he could have an extension of the evaluation period for our software. This was the third time the prospect wanted an evaluation extension. I told Ted that I wanted to speak with the CEO before we gave any more extensions. After speaking with the CEO it turned out that:

1. He wasn't going to buy our software until one of his customers bought from him.
2. The deal size was a quarter of what Bob had fore casted.
3. He thought he could just keep evaluating our software until his sales came through.
What happened? A few things:
1. Bob never spoke to the CEO to get the real scoop. He let his lower-level contact (Carol) dictate terms to him.
2. Bob probably never asked the "tough" sales questions. He wanted to be more "consultative.". Being his sales manager, I trusted Bob was telling me the truth. My mistake. I should have dug deeper.

We talk a lot about what it takes for a prospect to be qualified. But we rarely talk about dis-qualifying a prospect. Bob thought his prospect had all the things he needed for Carol to become a customer:

- The right platform for our software.
- A need for our software.
- Lots of customers.

And to a point, he did. What Bob did not have was:

- A prospect in Carol who had the authority to say, "Yes."
- The willingness, or maybe the courage, in Carol to let Bob speak with the CEO who was the decision maker and the person who could sign Bob's order form.

At that point Bob should have disqualified his prospect Carol. He should have told Carol he could not provide any additional time for evaluations until he spoke with the CEO and had his qualifying questions answered.

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