"Highly Likely Prospects" VS "Qualified Prospects"

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Yesterday afternoon I got a call from a young man that read my book on sales prospecting, and he was a little confused over what I meant by "Highly Likely Prospects".
This is the essence of what I told him.

A qualified prospect means that they are able to buy if they want to, and it's conceivable that they could buy. For example, if you are selling internet marketing services, a qualified prospect might be a small business owner who advertises their business, and is there when you show up for an appointment.

When I sold vacuum cleaners in people's homes, a qualified prospect was someone that worked full time, had a phone, was the head of the household (or one of them), and if they were a couple, both would be there for the appointment. If they met this criteria, it was possible for them to buy, and it was conceivable that they would. If something was missing, for example they had no job...a sale was almost certainly not going to happen. If the husband or wife wasn't there when I arrived, there was almost zero chance of a sale.

A Highly Likely Prospect is someone who has shown by past behavior that they are highly likely to buy from you. For example; They bought from you before, they bought what you sell from someone else, they belong to a group that has proven that they often buy what you sell, they know at least one person that bought from you, there are others...for example; (when selling in home)

1) If found that if the person financed something through the same finance company that I worked with, and had a loan about to be paid off...they were almost certain to buy from me. That doesn't mean they wold talk to me, or wanted what I sold, but if I gave them a presentation, they would almost certainly buy. So I made arrangements with the manager of the finance company to get a list of customers about to pay off their loan. A highly valuable list.

2) if the customer bought a different high end vacuum cleaner (from an in home salesperson) and it was more than 5 years ago, they would almost certainly trade it in on what I was selling. Almost a guaranteed sale. So I arranged to get the names of customers that bought other vacuums from in home salespeople. Sometimes by referral, and sometimes just buying the list from the other sales organization.

3) A referral from a customer that was qualified (meaning they had the minimum qualifications) was highly likely to agree to see me, was certain to be there when I showed up, and almost always bought. Why? Because they had a relationship with a customer. They saw me as a favor to their friend, not a favor to me. And they bought because they already knew someone who was happy with a purchase, and they knew that buying from me was normal and expected. Peer pressure played a part.

Just three examples. But being a Highly Likely Prospect didn't mean that they were already interested in what I was selling. That's a mistake salespeople make.

It was truly rare that I found someone already interested in what I was offering. To get those "already interested' prospects, you can cold call, do direct mail, and other marketing methods.

And when I went on qualified appointments (not highly likely buyers), as long as they talked to me, there was about a 40-50% chance that they would buy from me. Their interest developed in the presentation.

So......

I'm on the lookout for people that are Highly Likely Prospects. I'll seek out those lists, and find factors that make them highly likely to buy from me. But I will accept an appointment with anyone that is qualified...meaning that it's possible that they would buy.

And if I don't have an appointment with a referral, or an appointment with a Highly Likely Prospect, any qualified appointment will do....because I still have a great chance at a sale.

When getting lists of people to call on, I really want them to be Highly Likely Prospects. And if they are a referral, they are already Highly Likely Prospects. And if they are a referral,and have another qualification (like bought from an in home salesperson before), then the list of names is worth its weight in gold.

But if I don't have an appointment with a referral, or an appointment with a Highly Likely Prospect, any qualified appointment will do....because I still have a great chance at a sale.

I was talking with a sales trainer that trains insurance agents.

He was talking about the leads that the agents have...people sending direct mail pieces asking for information on life insurance. I laughed and said "You mean you have people interested in buying? For decades, everyone I saw had sworn an oath, before I got there, that they were absolutely positively not going to buy anything from me."

What I'm trying to say here guys, is that they don't have to already be interested in buying, before you get there. They just have to be willing to talk to you...the "interested in buying" develops as you discuss their problems, and how your offer can help.

I hope this helps.
#highly likely prospects #qualified prospects
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  • Profile picture of the author misterme
    Lately I've been doing the same thing. I've been looking over past sales and deducing the factors which generally produce the better buyers. Nothing's 100% I'll still get non-buyers despite my best efforts but I'm concentrating my marketing more on the better prospects.

    I see it as stocking the pool I'm fishing from.

    In my case, everyone I see is already interested. But I only make money if they want more than the basic. That's what I have to get them interested in.
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    "Best book on answering objections I have seen... it's for photographers but it has brilliant techniques you can use in any business." - Claude Whitacre. When They Say That, You Say This (Amazon Kindle)
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  • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
    Something I think I should add.

    The Highly Likely Prospects were generally either a great referral tree from buyers or a list of people I got that had a qualification that made them far more likely to buy from me... than simply a qualified appointment. For example, I may have a 80-90% likelihood of them buying, VS a 40-50% likelihood from a normal cold appointment.

    The difference in closing percentage was one motivator to calling these people, but an even bigger motivator was that they would almost always take my call and make an appointment. I may have to talk to a dozen people before I got a good appointment, if it were a cold list (or if I just went door to door).

    My prospecting would normally consist of only calling these highly likely buyers. Eventually, that source would dry up (Maybe after several months), and I'd go back to running regular appointments.

    But my last several years selling in the field consisted almost entirely of calling on past customers (who almost always saw me, and would nearly always buy the new machine), referrals from customers (with an introduction) that nearly always saw me, and would nearly always buy. And an occasional new lead source of Highly Likely Buyers. (Usually a competitor's list of buyers)

    If I were selling my local online marketing service today, and had to create a Highly Likely Prospect list, I'd concentrate o businesses that are advertising heavily in print (locally), and have premium listings in any of the online directories. Companies that pay for Homeadvisor.com leads. I fact, any company that already pays for local online leads is a fantastic prospect. Why? Because they have proven that they are used to spending money on what you sell.
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  • Profile picture of the author misterme
    You realize what else you're doing there... compared to others who look to weed out those they think may be non-buyers eliminating them by asking "qualifying" questions such as "are you interested in buying more than one?" "would you be willing to look at higher priced options?" or "on a scale of one to ten how interested are you getting our stuff?"...

    They're looking for up assurance there will be a purchase, as opposed to looking for opportunities.
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    "Best book on answering objections I have seen... it's for photographers but it has brilliant techniques you can use in any business." - Claude Whitacre. When They Say That, You Say This (Amazon Kindle)
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    • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
      Originally Posted by misterme View Post

      You realize what else you're doing there... compared to others who look to weed out those they think may be non-buyers eliminating them by asking "qualifying" questions such as "are you interested in buying more than one?" "would you be willing to look at higher priced options?" or "on a scale of one to ten how interested are you getting our stuff?"...

      They're looking for up assurance there will be a purchase, as opposed to looking for opportunities.
      looking for "Highly likely Buyers" isn't really qualifying to me. To me, Qualifying is looking for the bare essentials that make a sale possible. There are further questions that reveal areas where you can perfectly math your offer to their wants, but that's more in the sales presentation (at least for me)

      For example, when I was selling in people's homes;
      One person had to work full time, in order to qualify for financing.
      They had to have a phone, to qualify for financing.
      If a couple, both had to be there, or the chance of a sale dropped to below 2%.
      It had to be at their place of residence (not at a friend's house) because it had to be their dirt, their trade in.

      If those minimum items were all there, to me it was qualified.

      A highly Likely Prospect factor is something that, in real experience, makes a sale almost certain. An obvious example is, if it were one of your parents of kids. It's almost certain that they would buy from you, just because of the relationship.

      If it was a referral from a buyer, that introduced me...and the referral knew 5 people that already bought from me...it was almost certainly going to be a sale.

      What most "salespeople" call "qualifying' consists of looking for ways to get out of selling, and to be used as an excuse when they don't get a sale.

      When I had an office, I would pass out the appointments to the reps after our sales meeting. I would show the appointments and ask "Which one is the worst?" And I would hand out the rest (randomly, always) and take the "worst lead" for myself. Why? To show that as long as they meet the barest of qualifications, mostly the sales are going to be based on the salesperson, not the prospect. And the more often this is tested, the more obvious it becomes.

      Did I ever prove my point? Never. It made no difference. Like teaching bricks to dance.

      On an unrelated note (you may appreciate this).At a meeting with my main vacuum cleaner Mfg......about 50 dealers were in the meeting. Our CEO gave us a great bit of news. One of our top selling vacuums had a temporary price drop of 40%. Same machine, just 40% less. I clapped with a few others at the news...and then it began...

      "Now I have to lower the price and make 40% less on a sale!"
      "How am I supposed to explain that to my customers?"
      "You're doing this just so you can raise the price again!"
      "This price fluctuation will put me out of business" (Every change was going to put us out of business, of course)

      The CEO said "No You don't understand. You don't have to lower your price. We're just lowering your price".

      "I have a formula for pricing, and this is going to throw everything out of whack!"
      I started laughing. The CEO asked me "What's so funny?"

      And I said "Us. We're funny! You can't sell us a 40% price reduction. People are rebelling at a better price!'.

      This is the business I have chosen.
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  • Profile picture of the author Princess Balestra
    I love how you been real forensic 'bout alla the hoops people gotta jump through before they part with their cash.


    Sumtimes it is possible to misimagine a black hole from outta which you can hook "all things previously sucked" like you pluckin' all available ducks from outta a lame funfair.


    Gotta figure the Qualified prospects be highly likely to spend elsewhere less'n you max out on smarts gonna lasso 'em back round your way.


    That is a fine distinction to make in a Cosmos seemin' to pitch merely trial-&-error random.


    Plenty people sniffin' around here for RESULTS, but fore'n we figure that stuff we gotta have METHOD.
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    Lightin' fuses is for blowin' stuff together.

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  • Profile picture of the author ryanbiddulph
    I like the clear distinction between the 2. Getting laser clear on what you wish to speak to - an why - gives you a nudge as to how to find, or connect with, these folks.
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    Ryan Biddulph, Blogger, Author, World Traveling Digital Nomad at Blogging From Paradise
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  • Profile picture of the author offmarketinvestor
    1 sale >1,000,000 tyre kickers!!!
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    • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
      Originally Posted by offmarketinvestor View Post

      1 sale >1,000,000 tyre kickers!!!
      Online, probably. But I close tire kickers every day.

      They have already decided that they are interested in what we sell. They have already made the trip. That already makes them highly qualified.

      Maybe (for me at least) it would be fair to say that 1 tire kicker > 1,000,000 disinterested people. It's the lack of interest that is hard to overcome. But someone saying "I'm just here to check prices" or "I'm just here to see what's available" is like money in the bank to me, as it is with any highly trained salesperson.

      Online, it's different. But in person? about half the tire kickers buy.

      When I was selling in people's home, we had about half of the people (That we demonstrated to) swear that they were going to buy from us...later. I'm talking about over ten thousand people telling me ...swearing an oath...that they were going to buy later. How many did? None. A study in human nature.

      And the single hardest thing to teach a new salesperson was...that they never buy later. Every new person had to learn the hard way. I used to say "A bird in the hand is worth 10,000 in the bush".

      But someone that shows interest? To me, those are highly qualified leads.
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      • Profile picture of the author offmarketinvestor
        Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

        Online, probably. But I close tire kickers every day.

        They have already decided that they are interested in what we sell. They have already made the trip. That already makes them highly qualified.

        Maybe (for me at least) it would be fair to say that 1 tire kicker > 1,000,000 disinterested people. It's the lack of interest that is hard to overcome. But someone saying "I'm just here to check prices" or "I'm just here to see what's available" is like money in the bank to me, as it is with any highly trained salesperson.

        Online, it's different. But in person? about half the tire kickers buy.

        When I was selling in people's home, we had about half of the people (That we demonstrated to) swear that they were going to buy from us...later. I'm talking about over ten thousand people telling me ...swearing an oath...that they were going to buy later. How many did? None. A study in human nature.

        And the single hardest thing to teach a new salesperson was...that they never buy later. Every new person had to learn the hard way. I used to say "A bird in the hand is worth 10,000 in the bush".

        But someone that shows interest? To me, those are highly qualified leads.
        Well yes. The fact they allowed you in their homes, to make the pitch face to face shows an interest.
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        • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
          Originally Posted by offmarketinvestor View Post

          Well yes. The fact they allowed you in their homes, to make the pitch face to face shows an interest.
          I'm glad you brought that up. I should have made it clearer.

          They let me in their home because I gave them a gift for their time. There was almost never an interest in anything I was showing them. In fact, if I made an appointment over the phone, when I arrived, I'd often hear "I just want to let you know that we talked about it, and we aren't going to buy anything from you. But if you want to waste your time, go ahead".


          And at the end, I'd often hear "You know, before you got here we made a solemn oath that we weren't going to buy anything".

          Even going on an appointment that was a referral, the only reason they agreed to see me was to make a friend happy. It was never interest in my product.

          And yet, about 50% of the cold appointments bought from me, and about 80% of the referral appointments did. Why? Because I generated interest while I was there.

          That's why "Highly likely prospect" has nothing to do with an existing interest in what you sell, but rather a history of buying in the way you are selling.

          And I might have someone buy from me, that was already interested when I arrived...once a year. Almost never.

          That's my in home sales experience. However, there are lots of companies that have lead programs where prospects send for information about a product. And that means they had interest (to some degree) when you arrived.

          And in retail, they don't come through the door without some interest in buying something. And when I was speaking to groups of business owners (about online marketing) they didn't show up (and pay) unless they were interested. So it was a highly qualified audience. But my in home sales experience was different.


          Selling in people's homes is a counter-intuitive business. It's why almost nobody ever gets good at it.

          Added later; Selling my local online marketing service, I presented only to people that were already interested. Or they were at least interested in learning more about how to market online locally. Most had seen me speak at a convention, and were really ready to buy when I showed up.

          But the truth is, if I simply called small business owners, and offered them a gift for 10 minutes of their time, I could fill my day with these weak appointments. If I met with 20 small business owners a day....whose only qualification was that they were going to be there...I think I'd make one or two sales a day. Anyone who didn't show interest after ten minutes, I'd politely leave.
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  • Profile picture of the author offmarketinvestor
    Tyre kickers don't make the journey......

    Tyre kickers to me are people that never had any intention of buying they are simply gathering info, wasting time, entertaining themselves...

    I like to get people on the phone...at least ask if they are interested, etc...the ones that won't are the tyre kickers
    OK i see you made the distinction. Online i'd say most are tyre kickers.

    "Online, it's different. But in person? about half the tire kickers buy."
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