As sales professionals most of us are, or should be familiar with the term “qualify your prospect”. The question though is what does that really mean in today’s environment? There are a lot more things going on today then in the past when it comes to this concept and I thought we should talk about them. The following four questions will potentially save you hours of aggravation if you ask them out of the gate.
1. Does the person you are talking to have any interest in buying?
This one may seem obvious but far too often I have seen sales people focus their energy and attention trying to ‘convince’ people that they should buy their product or service. Since your product or service exists it is safe to assume that there is a market for it. Why would you spend time, effort and energy trying to artificially create a demand or market that doesn’t exist? Do you think it is a more valuable use of your time and energy convincing people they need your service or would it be more efficient to find customers that DO need your service.
2. At what level is the interest at the point you and your prospect meet?
It is easy for us to assume that we are starting at the beginning with our potential clients and start the sales process from stage 1. The problem with this is that our buyers today have typically made their buying decision by the time they get to us. For us as mortgage brokers this usually means that our customer has likely already researched a lot of the mortgage options and at the very minimum have formed a strong opinion on what they are looking for.
This doesn’t meant that they have necessarily accurately selected a product that is right for them but it does mean that they might THINK they have. In this case we need to present a little differently to them and help them either confirm their opinion or show them there may be other considerations. Let’s face it, not all of the information people gather is accurate and they do not always put the pieces together properly. That is where you, as a professional mortgage broker come in. We just need to be cautious about how we present that information so that your client does not feel like we are either a) talking down to them or b) talking them into something they think they don’t want.
3. Does the person you are talking to have the ability to buy?
This one is extremely important and I have seen too many times where a broker forgets this. There are some nuances to this that you may not have considered. First off, look at who you are interacting and determine if they are the sole decision maker or if there will be others involved in the decision process. If you are presenting to one spouse it is likely that the other will be a part of the decision process and if you are not presenting to both parties it is easy for something to get lost in translation or for your value proposition to be undermined because the other party does not fully understand it. Ideally you want the opportunity to talk to both parties at the same time. If this is not possible, as is often the case, make sure you discuss this with the one you are talking to. You can frame it by talking about the fact that there is a lot of information out there but that most external influences will not know the details of their specific circumstance. This way if something comes up down the road you can remind them of this conversation.
One of the things that you need to keep in mind is that their may be other parties that will influence the clients ability to buy. This most often surfaces as a well meaning, trusted family member. A father, mother, sister, brother that has ideas on how the mortgage process should work. Make sure you ask this question at the outset so that you can prepare for this eventuality. Something as simple as “Is there anyone else you will need to consult before finalizing which direction you go with your mortgage?”. If they tell you their father will be guiding them then it may make sense for you to have Dad join you in your consultation.
4. Do they fit your client profile?
Not everyone that can be your client should be your client. We have all had those clients that somewhere along the line we wish we had not started the process with. It is important to trust your gut. If you feel from the outset that this particular prospect is not going to work well with you it is OK to just say No. You do not have to work with everyone that comes your way. Chances are you will save yourself and your client a whole bunch of time and aggravation if you have the courage to say no when it just doesn’t feel right. Reviewing these questions at the beginning of your interaction with your client will help ensure a smooth process for both of you.
Once you have the answers to these questions you can tailor your sales presentation and approach to best fit the needs of your client. This will increase the likelihood of maximizing client satisfaction and making the most efficient use of your time and energy leading to more referrals. The bottom line is knowing what your best customer looks like and being able to easily identify them.