There are various ways to define a “prospect,” but for our purposes, let’s assume a prospect is a potential client who has expressed an interest in your services by calling you, submitting a request for information online, initiating an introduction through a mutual contact, or otherwise reaching out to you from a client perspective.
Before you pull out all the stops in your effort to convert a prospect to a client, you should stop, analyze them and decide if they’re worth it. In this first post in a two-part series on qualifying prospects, here’s a look at why this step is so important.
Your Time is Valuable
Qualifying prospects before you enthusiastically begin courting them can save you time, a lot of time. If you have an effective way to measure each potential client that comes your way, you can identify (and avoid) the tire-kickers (those looking for the cheapest option), the time wasters (the prospects who are unable to make a decision) and the dreamers (potential clients with unrealistic expectations).
Your Business Isn’t Solely about Sales
Unless you are a salesperson or place your focus on business generation while others do the actual business activity, your time is probably not best spent chasing down every lead that comes your way. You need to spend the bulk of your time on the work that makes your business what it is, what it is that you do best.
Not All Prospects Are Created Equal
Initially, it may seem that every potential client who approaches you should receive equal consideration. They are, after all, demonstrating a desire to learn more about what you do and how you do it in their quest to determine if they are willing to pay you for your expertise.
At face value this may be true, but the bottom line is that not all prospects are created equal, and until you know that they have the potential to become good clients, you should assume that they are “unqualified.”
Your “Good Client” Criteria Can Change
Every potential client is not a good client for you at every point in time (just as you’re not the right provider for everyone looking for someone who does what you do). A project you may happily take on when you first start your business may be one that you avoid like the plague after you have a few years of experience and lessons learned under your belt.
The only way to know if a prospect has the potential to become an appropriate client in your business (and to determine if you have the potential to meet all of their needs) is to run through a standard process of measurement.
My next post will outline a set of criteria you can use to gauge the quality of a prospect during your initial interactions.
Image credit: JoanaCroft
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