The Sooner You Lose the Sale, the Better

The industry-wide closing average is one or two out of 10 prospects. That’s more than enough reason to stop clogging your sales pipeline with shaky leads. Sales training expert Mike Brooks shares his favorite lead qualifying questions to disqualifying weak opportunities sooner — before you end up wasting precious time, effort, and resources.

Last week I was speaking with another training company about perhaps joint venturing on webinars together. They would give a webinar to my list of subscribers, and I would then give one to theirs. After the initial conversation, next steps were made and we were to exchange various deliverables and take the conversation to the next level.
However, after giving it some thought, I decided that we weren’t a good match for each other. Before we went through all the trouble of sending and reviewing material, I emailed them and declined. The email I got back was brilliant. They thanked me for my time and then simply said:

“We always like to lose early.”

Now that’s a response from a company (or sales rep) who understands the value of qualifying. Unfortunately, most sales reps operate the exact opposite way. Here’s how most do it.
Most sales reps act with a desperation to put anyone into their pipeline who will take their information. They are then happy to call these very shaky prospects back and waste their time by sending information or revising documents or whatever else they are asked to do. And after this long and frustrating process, the majority of these prospects end up not being a sale. In fact, the industry wide closing average is one or two out of 10 prospects!
Think about that for just a moment. Think about all the time, energy, phone calls, voice messages, emails, chasing and disappointment you have to go through pursuing eight or nine prospects through a sales cycle only to have them finally tell you no.

That’s why the response, “We always like to lose early” is so brilliant. By losing the sale early in the process — as a direct result of an intensive, first qualifying call, by the way — we both saved ourselves a lot of work, a lot of time in following up, and the disappointment of a lost deal at the end of it all.
What this all comes down to is the concept of “disqualifying” your leads rather than qualifying leads just enough to get them into your pipeline.
What this allows you to do is spend less time pitching unqualified leads that steal your valuable time. And I’m sure you know who I’m talking about.
In order to disqualify non-buyers early on, get into the habit of asking qualifying questions during the initial call.

Examples of Crucial Lead Qualifying Questions

“I know we’re at the very early stages of this, but give me an idea of your time frame for making a decision on something like this.”

“If you like what you see in our demo, what would be the next steps for you?”

“What would hold you back from making a decision to move forward on something like this in the next two weeks?”

“Besides yourself, who would be making the final decision on this?”

Then layer:

“And what insight do you have on where they are leaning right now?”

And finally:

“From what I’ve been describing so far, what are your initial thoughts on this?”

If any of these questions reveal that your prospect might not be a good fit or won’t buy at this time for any reason, then hold off! The less time you spend pitching to bad leads who aren’t going to buy, the more time you can spend finding the real buyers.
This is a big point, so here it is again:

The top 20% producers spend more time disqualifying out the non-buyers and thus less time stuffing unqualified leads into their pipeline hoping they will close. In other words, they would rather lose early because it frees them up to find and spend more time with buyers later on. And this is what makes them top producers.

I challenge you to start losing more sales earlier in the sales process so you can spend more time winning bigger deals more often.
Editor’s note: This guest post from Mike Brooks originally appeared on his Inside Sales Training Blog.

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Photo by:  ddqhu

Mike Brooks
Mike Brooks

Mike Brooks “Mr. Inside Sales”Mr. Inside Sales is the recognized authority on inside sales. Voted one of the most Influential Inside Sales Professionals by The American Association of Inside Sales Professionals for the past five years in a row, Mike is the go-to inside sales trainer and phone script writer in the industry. Mike is the best-selling author of “The Ultimate Book of Phone Scripts” which Brian Tracy calls “One of the best books on inside sales phone scripts I’ve seen.” Mike is hired by business owners to implement proven sales processes that help them immediately scale and grow Multi-Million Dollar Inside Sales Teams. For more information, you can visit his website
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