How to Qualify a Prospect Quickly So You Don’t Waste Time

By Jason Swenk on May 14, 2014

I ask you – is all revenue good? No, it is not!

You need to be turning down work that isn’t the perfect client or the perfect project. In this post, I’m going to give you the tools to qualify a lead so that you aren’t wasting time and effort.

Don’t chase revenue. Seek profit.

Let’s say you have this bill that needs to be paid and at the same time, a client comes along looking to work with you. This client isn’t necessarily the kind of client that fits in your sweet spot, but hey – you do have this bill that needs to be paid…

Don’t do this! It will come back and bite you in the end. If you’re chasing clients you will be underfunded, over scope on projects, drained on profits, and have lost opportunity costs.

Avoid wasting time with a pre-qualification process.

I use a pre-qualification process to make sure every prospect is the right kind of client and that they’re serious about the work. Model this and you won’t spend an hour (or more!) talking to a potential client, only to eventually discover it was all a waste of time.

With my pre-qualification process, you can find out quickly if this is something you want to take on. The process is called B-A-N-T, and it’s four points will help you avoid wasting time:

Budget – Can the client afford this project? If not, you need to walk away. Simple as that.

Authority – Does the person you’re talking to have the power to make decisions? If you’re not talking to the decision-maker, see what you can do about getting that person in the conversation.

Need – Can you fill the need of this client? If the project isn’t part of your niche, then this probably isn’t the right project for you.

Timeline – Can you complete the project within their timeline? Not having the time or resources to complete a project within the client’s timeframe means you shouldn’t take the project.

Six internal questions to see if this project is a waste of time.

Here are the things I ask myself when talking to a potential client. They’ll help you determine if this is a relationship that is going places or if you should let it go.

1. Can the client clearly articulate the objective of the project?

If the person you’re talking to has no idea what the goal and benefit of the project is, you’re talking to the wrong person. Either get yourself in front of the decision maker or walk away.

2. Is the project funded?

You don’t want to find yourself meeting with a client because they’re shopping around or they are not ready to pull the trigger and give you money.

3. Who’s really calling the shots?

Again, it’s all about getting yourself in front of the person with the power to make decisions. Don’t just assume a C level executive can make the decision. Sometimes they still need approval.

4. Can your firm really deliver the results?

If you can’t, don’t offer to do it. You’ll be mad, your team will be mad, and the client will be mad. And a mad client will tell everybody that you can’t deliver.

5. What opportunity costs will you lose?

Think about the time you’ll spend on this project. Will it take you away from more important things you should be doing?

6. Why did they call you?

You need to determine if this person called you because they really want to work with you, or if they’re just shopping around to see what’s what.

There you have it – my two tips for qualifying a lead so you don’t waste time. Use these questions and checklist to help make your business a success.

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