What is the first thing you do when you find and hone in on a prospective client? Typically, you’ll look to connect with them either through email or LinkedIn with a carefully crafted (and hopefully personalised) email pitch.
But too often we hurriedly put our best foot forward, only to discover that we’ve targeted the wrong person. Business Development Managers encounter objections around having no money or interest in your services.
But why does this occur? The reality is that many in business development fail to make the time to understand their target’s needs and qualify them as a prospect before making an offer or pitch.
Why a Qualified Lead is a Better Lead
Qualifying a lead means assessing how well they match your ideal client. It’s about asking the question: Does this person tick all the boxes for our particular service?
Whether you’re a freelance copywriter or a business development manager in professional services, the principle is the same: pre-qualifying clients saves you time and money and creates higher-value opportunities. Asking prospects some preliminary questions allows you to:
- Avoid tyre kickers and time wasters, and focus on legitimate opportunities;
- Create a smaller but higher quality pool of leads;
- Gain a better insight into the pain points and commercial profile of a prospect; and
- Limit your outreach emails and pitch decks to leads with real needs and budget to spend.
Understanding why someone would use your services ensures that you can more easily personalise your proposals to the client’s specific needs. A considered and measured approach that addresses specific pain points of that client will help build rapport and trust and demonstrate attention to detail. We’ve set out six essential questions to help determine the value of your prospects and their likelihood of becoming clients.
1. Are They Hiring?
If a business is hiring, this indicates they have the budget for new staff. While they might not be hiring specifically for your services, knowing that they have capital means your pitch will not fall on deaf ears (or empty bank accounts).
2. What is Their Revenue?
Regardless of the value you think you could bring to a client’s business, without cash flow, you’ll have trouble getting paid. Do your homework to ascertain the viability of the business and their capacity to engage your services.
3. What is Their Product or Service?
Here is where understanding the prospect’s business model comes in handy. Once you’ve determined a real need for your product or service, think about whether this business can pay for your services. Also, unless you’re model necessitates ‘upfront payment’, make sure the prospect is not paying for your services ‘on the go’.
For example, freelance copywriters should never commission their services if getting paid depends on the revenue generated from clicks to ads positioned alongside content, the copy for which they created!
4. What’s Happening With Their Social Presence?
A great validation technique is to audit a prospect’s social channels. For example, reviews on their Facebook page will inform you about the overall client experience, and help you decide if you want to associate yourself with this business. Bad reviews should sound alarm bells, while positive experiences signal bona fide business practices (including paying service providers on time).
Gauging the level of client happiness and engagement goes towards qualifying and legitimising the business. What do the client reviews and testimonials tell you about the quality of the service or product? Are the employees responsive to clients’ needs? Are clients longstanding or fleeting?
Of course, not all businesses will have “social-proof”, but most established businesses should.
5. What Contact Details are Displayed Online?
Has the business advertised contact information online? Is there a physical office? How about a telephone number or email? This is important because you may need to get in touch and only have an online form with which to do so, leaving you high and dry.
6. Is the Business Transparent About Their Practices?
The last thing you want when sourcing leads and potential strategic partners is to wind up associating your business with an untrustworthy company. Openness suggests trustworthiness (i.e. nothing to hide).
Not all prospects will become clients – in fact, most won’t! However, qualifying leads is a good first step to separating the wheat from the chaff. Your time is your greatest asset and just as there are businesses out there willing and ready to engage you for your services, there are, unfortunately, even more time wasters whose empty promises will not pay your bills.
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