Episode 3 – Suspects & Prospects


If you treat them the same, you’re fighting a losing battle…

If you want to fill your sales pipeline with “prospects” who are ripe to buy, you need to be ruthless when it comes to “suspects”, because all they do is take up your most valuable resource– your time.

But can you tell the two apart? When it comes to separating the one from the other, there are a number of questions you should ask upfront to ensure you target qualified prospects, not “iffy” suspects.

1. Who?

Describe your ideal prospect in detail. Don’t just think about current customers, think outside of the box. Once you have committed this profile to paper, it’s time to separate the hot leads from the suspects by asking the following questions:

  • Who has the most urgent need for your products or services?
  • Who has the resources to buy your products or services now?
  • Who carries clout or has influence over your prospects?
  • Who is the MAN (M = Money; A = Authority; N = Now – needs it now)?

2. Where?

Now identify leads you may have missed at first by asking the following questions:

  • Where do your ideal prospects live, work, socialise or play?
  • Where can you find useful databases or email lists of people and companies who fit your ideal prospect profile?
  • Where can you buy relevant databases that contain vital information like MD and contact details?
  • Where are the local business chambers, networking groups and other associations?

3. Why?

Now you need to establish if your potential customer is actually ready to buy:

  • Why would the prospect be in the market for your product or service right now?
  • Why has the prospect not already gone ahead with a solution?
  • Why might the prospect resist buying your product or service?
  • Why would this person want to set up an appointment with you?

4. What?

These questions, if properly used, can boost the quality of your prospects:

  • What will the prospect find most beneficial about your product or service?
  • What intelligent questions could you ask the prospect to get him/her to open up about their problem areas?
  • What information should you gather about the prospect before you meet with her/him?
  • What keeps your prospect awake at night?

5. When?

This question is all about timing: When is the best time to contact a prospect? If your prospect is a busy executive, don’t call first thing Monday morning. Try an unusual time like before 8:00, after 17:00 or during lunchtimes when the gatekeeper is out.

6. How?

Once you have asked all the “w” questions, it’s time to ask a few “how” questions:

  • How can you be sure that you are doing a thorough job on follow-up prospecting? Action tip: Review the answers to your “who” questions.
  • How can you use your prospecting time more efficiently? Action tip: Review the answers to your “where” questions.
  • How can you improve and sharpen your prospecting skills? TIP: Search for creative reasons why the buyer should buy. Action tip: Review your answers to the “why” questions.
  • How do you decide on an appropriate approach for your prospects? Action tip: Review the answers to your “what” questions.
  • How can you prioritise your prospects from a time management perspective? Action tip: Review your answers to the “when” questions.
Top sales professionals take time out to do all the prep required to find first-class prospects and then prepare a custom-designed opener. They have the discipline to make this a habit and the pay-offs are huge.
Answer each question below with a number from 0 to 10, with 10 being the best and 0 the worst:

If your overall score (out of 80) is less than 50, this company is not a prospect, so take them off your list.