8 MIN READ
7 Characteristics of a Good Sales Prospect
Written by Joseph Dutson
Published on December 23, 2020
It is not possible to sell to everyone. No organization has that kind of manpower or finances. For this reason, every sales team should know who their sales prospects are.
Who is a Sales Prospect?
A sales prospect is a potential client who meets the ideal customer profile criteria that your organization has come up with. The potential client may be an individual or an organization.
Some people are confused by the difference between a lead and a sales prospect. A lead is someone who has expressed interest in an organization and the products or services it offers. But you may not have any idea of why they show this interest. You may also not have enough information about them beyond the basic contact and name. So, not all leads would make good potential clients.
On the other hand, prospects are people who have moved beyond expressing an interest in your company offerings. By communicating with them for a while, you will tell them that they are in a position to buy what your business sells.
Therefore, it is critical for salespeople to know what to look for in a sales prospect. It can mean the difference between closing a deal or not.
So, what makes an excellent potential client? How can your salespeople know whether the leads they are dealing with are worth pursuing longer?
7 Characteristics of a Good Sales Prospect
Sales prospects tend to have similar characteristics. They include the following:
1. An awareness of a problem that exists
It’s challenging to sell to someone who does not even know they have a problem. Selling to such people is an uphill task. In their minds, they are not missing anything. So, why should they hand over their hard-earned money to you?
Sometimes people have a surface-level awareness of what their problems are. But they may also have deeper concerns they are not acknowledging or voicing. It’s up to sales reps to bring those problems to the fore by expressing them.
When salespeople ask about a buyer’s goals and pain points, they are more likely to close a deal. These problems can be unearthed during a discovery session. A potential customer with multiple pain points is more likely to be a good sales prospect. It pays for sales reps to listen very carefully to what is being said and not being said.
2. A need that you can fulfill
Just because a potential buyer has a problem does not mean it’s your problem. A good sales prospect is one whose needs can be solved using the solution your company offers. It doesn’t make sense to sell a product or service to someone who does not need it for any reason. It would not be helpful to that person.
Research shows that 62% of buyers would like to hear from sellers when actively trying to solve a problem. So, your sales reps must present a solution that is tailored to the needs of potential customers.
For example, if your company sells exercise equipment and your leads mistakenly assume you sell office equipment, it may not make much sense to sell to that person. After all, those two products are not related.
However, if you realize that your leads complain a lot about sitting down for too many hours or having constant backache during the discovery session, you may be able to fulfill some of their needs. They may end up being a new market that your sales team can explore.
If your product offerings include ergonomic chairs or sit-stand desks, then your salespeople could tap into those pain points to generate more sales. All they need to do is to customize their selling scripts and tailor your existing company solutions to your potential buyers’ needs.
3. Authority to make or influence purchases
Not every person that your salespeople encounter while selling can make decisions about buying your product. So, even when they express an interest in what your business offers, they may not be good sales prospects.
If your company offers B2C products, you may not have to jump so many hoops before selling. The leads you communicate with could be the sole decision-makers.
However, that is not usually the case within the B2B sector. In a typical firm involving anywhere from 100-500 employees, you may have to deal with an average of 7 decision-makers. Complex B2B business solutions may require as many as ten decision-makers!
But you should not instantly dismiss every lead that is not in a decision-making position because some of them may not be able to authorize purchases but have a massive influence on what people buy. So, they may still be good sales prospects because they can influence a purchase.
Let’s discuss one real-world scenario. If a woman reaches out to your company about buying a car, she instantly becomes a lead. It would be easy to dismiss her as a good sales prospect if she mentions that she is a stay-at-home mum. But that would be a huge mistake on the part of the sales reps.
And the reason is simple: women influence 85% of all purchase decisions. She may not get to write a check, but she will determine in whose name that check gets written and sent.
So, salespeople must be very careful not to let their initial bias affect the way they qualify sales prospects. An influencer may be just as right as the final decision-maker.
4. The ability to buy your product or services
It’s possible to find someone aware that they have a problem, have a need that you can solve, is in a decision-making position, but is still not a good prospect. And it all boils down to money.
Your potential client should have a budget that enables them to buy your products or services. Many salespeople do not want to talk about money first. Perhaps they fear that when they mention the price of the products they sell, the potential buyers will walk away. Unfortunately, they have no choice but to do so.
Research shows that 58% of potential buyers want to discuss the pricing first during the first sales call. This is a stark contrast to the 23% of salespeople who do. It would be wise for sales reps to consider using this information to reduce their sales process cycle.
If a lead is not interested in buying a product or service at the set price, that lead does not qualify as a good sales prospect. Therefore, their ability to buy your company products becomes an excellent way of weeding out those leads that don’t fit your ideal buyer profile.
5. The motivation to buy quickly
Did you know that your competition is not your biggest threat when trying to make a deal? Your target customers may end up being your biggest problem. About 60% of your sales in the pipeline may end up being lost due to customers’ indecision.
It could be that some of the leads that you may communicate with may be interested in what you have to offer, but they don’t feel enough pain. If your target customers do not feel a sense of urgency, they may not be good sales prospects.
But this should not discourage you. People that show interest in your business offerings but don’t feel motivated enough can be nurtured as leads. Once you get them to that point where they feel a sense of urgency, they will become good sales prospects.
6. Trust in your brand
A warm lead may end up losing interest in your products or services if they find out something about your brand that changes their perspective. Generally speaking, most people don’t trust sales reps. Studies show that only 19% of buyers trust salespeople. This means that most sales reps out there are already at a disadvantage because of their career choices.
You need to ensure that the people you are dealing with like you or your brand. There are strategies that you can use to enhance trust among potential buyers:
- Provide them with all the content that they need to make decisions
- Learn what their pain points are and position yourself as an expert on how to solve their problems
- Deal with their objections instead of ignoring them and pretending that they don’t exist
- Provide accurate answers to any questions they may have, including those concerning price
If you can build trust in your leads, you will be better positioned to turn them into good sales prospects. Because when people trust you, they are more likely to listen to you when trying to sell. They are also more likely to buy from you.
A good sales prospect is one that you can reach easily. You should be able to communicate with that person and determine if they fit the ideal buyer profile. They should also be in a position to receive your products if you make a sale.
Due to geopolitical factors, not every person who may fit all other criteria may be in a position to buy from you. It may be illegal for you to sell to some groups of people in some circumstances.
So, be very careful to ensure that the people you try to sell to are accessible as potential buyers. There is no need to get into legal trouble just to generate a sale. The price may be too high.
Getting good sales prospects is not easy. Most of the time, they don’t come ready-made. But by understanding what a good sales prospect looks like, you can nurture your leads to that state.