This is an excerpt from my second book, Managing the Sales Process, available on Amazon.com. You can find a series of these excerpts in a dedicated blog category to get a broad overview, post-by-post, of the book (they are listed in reverse order in the category, so start with the oldest).

From Chapter 4 – Metrics around qualification and needs analysis

Qualification
Deals that fall apart often can be tracked back to qualification. Remember, a qualified prospect is defined as one who:

  • Has an immediate need
  • Has a budget
  • Has the ability to make a decision

To stay on top of this, it is helpful to have a status or a check box in your CRM system to note that each opportunity is qualified. When you develop the sales process with your salespeople, identify what it means to be qualified. You certainly will need all three of the elements above and maybe a few more that are specific to your industry or geography, such as regulatory requirements, certifications, or something else.

The point is that there is a common agreement about what it means to be qualified and that at an early stage in the sales process the salesperson can indicate that for this prospect AND this opportunity these qualification criteria have been met.

In this way, when it is found through a pipeline analysis that deals are failing to materialize due to problems tracked back to qualification, the questions of if and how qualification is getting done can be a source of coaching and correction for the manager to pursue.

Needs Analysis
Like qualification but to a greater extent needs analysis will be highly customized for your business. It can be difficult for salespeople and sales managers to imagine how needs analysis can be incorporated into metrics, but there is a way that is actually quite useful.

Even if your company sells highly specialized solutions, and certainly if the product or service is standardized, sales team members have in their collective heads all of the questions that need to be asked to understand the level of and detail of need in a particular prospect for a particular product or service offering.

What has worked well for many sales organizations is to make a list of all of the questions that could be asked for a given service line. Then highlight all of those that should and/or must be asked. It sounds like a daunting task, but dedicate 30 minutes at a sales meeting for each product or service line that needs its own list and just let your salespeople brainstorm the idea. Record their answers and redistribute them to the sales team for review to confirm that all possible / should / must questions are properly identified.

Then keep these documents available on a shared server folder or in whatever form suits your organization. Now this can be linked back to the sales process.

Like qualification, needs analysis ─ for the purpose of metrics ─ can simply be a check box on the opportunity pipeline. The check boxes answer the question “was needs analysis done.” By defining in advance what it means to be qualified and what must be included in a proper needs analysis, the manager once again gets the ability to look at deals that failed to materialize and to ask why.

If the proposal ultimately was rejected because the need was not sufficiently fleshed out, but the salesperson indicated that a needs analysis was performed, then the manager once again has the data needed to help coach the salesperson to greater effectiveness.

Without these kinds of tools, there are usually just stories and guesses.

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Authors note (AKA shameless plugs)

So, this 7-step sales process and associated topics…. Yup, I write about that a lot. I’ve been working with it since I developed it about 25 years ago – in my own diverse work experiences, with my teams when I had them, and with clients ever since.

If you would like to develop you own personalized and customized, highly effective and efficient B2B selling system, here are some further steps you can take:

The Salesman’s Guide to Dating is a free or very cheap (depending on Amazon) Kindle book that walks you through the sales process using the familiar analogy of dating. It’s a good, fun and quick way to get your mind around the whole process and how the pieces fit together.

Building Your Sales Process (BYSP) is a free and very thorough exploration of the same 7-step process that will walk you through the development of your own customized, personal B2B selling system. When you are done, you will know exactly what to do to get new business.

The Momentum Selling System® is an inexpensive but very robust online sales training course that is similar to BYSP, but goes deeper into the concepts behind each of the steps, and also helps you develop a plan not only for the 7-step process but also addresses mindset, repeat business and client base management.

If none of that sounds right, I do personal coaching and offer a free 30-minute intake session so that we can both learn if it makes sense to work together 1-on-1. If this sounds interesting, click over to the coaching page on this site and sign up for the free session.

Here’s to your success!

-David