How to "Qualify" Potential Design Clients Before Working With Them

Qualify Your Prospects Professionally

We all get it wrong sometimes and I did two weeks ago. A potential client contacted us. It was a great opportunity, they called us after being referred by one of our happy clients, there was no other competitor involved and I got lazy.

I turned what should have been a relatively easy sale into a lost sale. I should have spent time qualifying the opportunity by finding out what they wanted could I help them and are they prepared to buy off me.

The truth was that I didn't qualify the opportunity professionally. I assumed what they wanted and didn't find out the compelling reason why they should buy and why they should hire me. I lost the sale due to my unprofessionalism. I gave myself a kick and a sales lesson on qualification which I would like to share with you today.  
You will never be a successful designer unless you qualify every opportunity properly and professionally. The result of not qualifying properly and professionally is that you lose opportunities and, in many cases, waste time with the wrong opportunities. You (and I) need to only spend our time on opportunities that have been qualified by making sure we have the answers to the following questions.

  • Are we talking to the decision maker?
  • If it we are not talking to the decision maker how can we arrange to see him or her
  • What is the decision date for the opportunity?
  • Do they have a realistic budget for the services/products/project?
  • What are the key criteria that the decision maker will be base his/her/their decision on?
  • Is there anyone else against you? If so how many are they and who are the competitors?
  • What are your chances of winning the client?
  • Are they committed to going ahead with the order/business/project?
  • Will they be prepared to hire you?

Once you know the answers to these questions and you have positive answers then and only then do you have an opportunity worth spending your time on. You still have some work to do to win the business however at least now you know it is a real opportunity that is worth spending time on.

If I had spent a little bit of time two weeks ago getting answers to the questions above I would have seen at the first meeting that they didn't have a budget and weren't committed to doing something about it. I would have qualified out early and saved myself at least four hours of my time - four hours I could have spent with better opportunities. So not only is today's sales tip a lesson for you it is also a lesson for me.

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By Michael McMeekin
Image by Photo Rack

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