Qualify! Protect Your Time, Sell faster and Build Your ideal Business

qualify prospects international marketing agency

Ever said this? “I need more leads.”

Maybe you don’t.

Ever heard that sales B2B is a numbers game? That saying may lead you to go for as many leads as you can get, in the hope that if you cast your nets for enough fish, you’ll catch something. But what if you could use better bait? Imagine if you could halve the numbers of people you need to talk to, and still make the same sales?

Have you ever met someone for coffee, given away lots of high-value advice, only to find that they:

  • don’t have any budget
  • aren’t the decision maker
  • are incurable procrastinators
  • The solution: Qualify your prospects
  • What, exactly, does it mean to qualify?

It means spending your time and efforts where they are going to get the most fruit.

Qualifying your prospects means that even before you start a one-on-one chat, you have done some pre-work to determine if you’re going to be a good fit for each other.

The smoke signals

Qualifying your clients is a series of smoke signals you send to each other to give some indication that it’s worth moving to the next stage of your sales process.

The aim of your sales process is not to make a sale. It’s to get to a decision. The goal here is to get to the right decision faster. To do that, you can send out some messages that will help your potential clients to know that you’re a good fit to work together or not.

There are four possible ways of doing that:

qualify prospects international marketing agency

Let’s walk through each of them.

1. You qualify yourself

This is largely through market positioning. This is letting the world know who you serve, and what difference it makes for them.

There are plenty of ways of qualifying yourself (or, in other words, telling people who your market is).

Here are a few:

  1. Your LinkedIn headline says who you work with (for example, “online stores selling camping equipment”).
  2. Your prices are listed on your website.
  3. Your case studies, articles, blog posts all make it clear that you are working with a certain kind of client
  4. There are plenty of other ways of indicating ahead of time: “here’s who I do my best work with / this is my tribe.”

2. You qualify them

This is still done by you, but is a little more specific than the marketing material you put out to the world.

For instance, you might decide who to connect with on LinkedIn. This may be a 2-second decision, but is a way of not trying to catch every fish that may fit into your net.

There are certain indications that people will be a better fit to work with you, and you may be able to see those well before you make direct contact with them.

For example, supposing you want to work with companies that are keen to grow their business online, if their website has a 2010 sort of feel about it, and their latest blog post is two years old, then chances are they’re not your market.

3. They qualify you

Let the fish decide if they like your bait. The sales process is a mutual decision between buyer and seller. But there may be something in your messaging that helps the buyer to decide for themselves that you’re not a good fit for them.

For instance, they may see that you’re working with businesses that are much bigger than they are, or much smaller. Your pricing, your messaging, your availability, may all be indicators of just how they decide whether they’d be the sort of client you would work with.

A warning: there are many people who might have been great clients for you, but who have (wrongly) decided that they wouldn’t be. To prevent that from happening, you want your messaging to be as clear and focused as it can be, so that the right fish don’t swim away from your bait.

4. They qualify themselves

This is my favorite. This is where your potential clients jump through some self-qualifying hoops before they speak to you one-on-one.

What kind of self qualification “hoops” do I mean?

These could be that they watch a webinar, or complete a questionnaire, or give some other indicator of their interest and the stage they are at in their business.

Allow your clients to qualify themselves with an email course.

In my own business, I used to offer free strategy sessions. I used to meet people for coffee. These usually ended up with me giving away some valuable advice, and the person I was meeting not becoming a paying client.

I realised I had a problem with my qualification process.

So, I addressed this (largely) by creating a free email course on how to Win More Business.

It’s an easy way for people to get some value, without me giving a lot of my individual time to discover whether or not we’re a good fit to work together.

The email course has a series of lessons:

Lesson 1: What every business owner needs to know
Lesson 2: Swap seats with your buyer
Lesson 3: Be the detective, not the superhero
Lesson 4: Focus on outcomes (not solutions)
Lesson 5: Move your buyer from spectator to player
Lesson 6: From information to transformation
Most of the lessons have a short question at the end to ask them about their business.

After people have gone through the whole course, I offer them a 30-minute free call. By then, I know that they and I have taken a few steps in qualifying each other.

If you want to get access to my Win More Business email course you can get the first lesson here.

The benefits of qualifying

There are quite a few benefits of qualifying the sort of clients you want to work with.

Here are three of them:

  • qualifying buys you time
  • you speed up the sales process
  • you build your ideal business
  • Let’s look at each of these.

Qualifying your clients buys back time

As you can see, one of the big advantages of having a qualifying process is that it buys back precious time for you. It’s a way of setting some boundaries for your prospects, and showing them that you are not available for coffee meetings, free strategy calls and other ways of giving away your one-on-one time for free.

Qualifying your clients speeds up the sales process

Sell faster. Having a qualification process means that when you do end up in a sales conversation, your prospects and you both know that you are a much better fit than if you had just arranged a call with a random stranger.

This not only directly speeds up the sales process. It also has a great spinoff: it helps you feel more confident in your other sales calls. If you think of your clients as fish you want to catch, then it’s a whole lot more motivating for you if the fish you’re trying to catch don’t slip off the hook or aren’t ones you should throw away because they were a bad fit.

Qualifying your clients helps you build your ideal business

Another benefit of qualifying your clients is that you get to build the ideal business you want to. Your willingness to set some boundaries around who you talk to, and when you talk to them, means you have clarity about where your business is headed.

A side benefit of this is that your prospects also have clarity about who you work with and what you do for them…what difference you really make.

So, how are you going to build your qualifying process?

Here are two things you can do to help you get started with your qualifying process:

  1. Sign up to my free email course. I trust it will have valuable content in itself. But as you read the emails, look at the subtext:
    – Why am I teaching that lesson?
    – How am I qualifying my subscribers?
    – How am I helping them to qualify themselves?

2. Choose just one of the four elements of qualifying. Here they are again:

qualify prospects international marketing agency

and identify one specific way you can do this better. Make it as small and achievable as possible. Remember, if you save yourself even two hours of time that you are currently wasting on coffee meetings with the wrong prospects your efforts at building a qualification process will have paid for themselves.


Anthony English, Managing Partner at International Marketing Agency for Australia and New Zealand