Put the Quality in Qualifying
Published: February 11, 2011
How often to do we spend time pre-qualifying a sales opportunity only to have the deal blow up in the end? It can be frustrating, especially when we are taught in Sales 101 to: 1) make sure you are talking with the decision maker, 2) assess the budget, and 3) determine if you can win the deal. We use these and other indicators as the determining factor for whether or not to move forward. But maybe we should put more emphasis on the quality of the qualifying process.
I recently spent four months going back and forth on a potential acquisition. It was time to make an official offer, but the seller’s expectations and ours (Tribridge) weren’t aligned and the deal fell through. At the end of the day, we all (buyer and seller) wasted a lot of time. In retrospect, I should have done a better job of qualifying the opportunity earlier in the process.
This type of situation happens in business and sometimes in our personal lives. When we are in new relationships we don’t always state up front, “Hey, I just want to date,” or “I am looking to get married.” It feels awkward and we would rather be polite and not hurt someone’s feelings. It’s better to have that difficult conversation early on.
Whether you’re buying and selling services or companies – or navigating a new relationship – we all have to make sure we understand exactly what everybody wants by having an open dialogue early and often. That way, no one has unrealistic expectations, and everyone is on the same page.