By Stewart Stuchbury

Part of Winning New Business For Dummies Cheat Sheet

How well do you qualify new business prospects before meeting with them and certainly before committing valuable resources to work on ideas for them? How do you handle qualification? What sort of criteria do you use?

Check out the minimum qualification you should perform:

  • You must be speaking to the decision maker or a key member of the decision-making unit. Discussing a sale at any other level is frankly a waste of time, because you need to be dealing with the people who have the need and will be making the decision.
  • There must be a real project to discuss — be wary of reviews or pitches — that needs special qualification. You need to qualify that the project being discussed is one that is actually going to happen and is on the priority list. Discussing vanity projects or projects that are simply not going to be signed off on wastes valuable time.
  • You must know the budget, and it must be within reasonable guideline figures that your company can cope with. The budget also needs a reality check to ensure that your prospect isn’t specifying a luxury car when he has the budget for a secondhand wreck.
  • You must know the timescale, and it must be within your company guidelines. Too close to the start point may be a sign of prospect panic at not being ready, and that should send out its own warning signs, whereas too far away risks wasting a lot of your time that could be better utilized on near-term projects.

If you can’t tick those four boxes and if the budget and timescale aren’t within the parameters you decide are right for you, then you don’t have a qualified opportunity. Keep talking to the prospect by all means, but don’t commit resources and don’t consider this deal a “banker.”