Suspect or Prospect? Knowing the Difference Will Improve your Close Rate.

I’ve run across many companies that use the term prospect loosely. Usually it means “anybody with a pulse”.

Too often, companies spend far too much time and resources pursuing so called prospects that will never buy and likely don’t have any interest in buying.

 

I’ve run across many companies that use the term prospect loosely. Usually it means “anybody with a pulse”.

Too often, companies spend far too much time and resources pursuing so called prospects that will never buy and likely don’t have any interest in buying. In this Moment of Clarity, I’ll show you how I categorize potential customers so you can better identify who is worth your time and treasure to pursue.

The path I define for conversion is Suspect, Prospect, Qualified Prospect, Customer.

A suspect is someone who fits your Client Profile. For example, one of your profiles might be “CEO’s of electronics manufacturers with between $100 million and $500 million in revenue in the Continental United States”.

Whatever your criteria, there are a certain number of people in your market area that fit your profile – but you don’t know much more about them – in other words, do they have problems you can solve? Are they in a buying cycle? Etcetera. I call these people Suspects.

I recommend my clients identify as many Suspects as possible and have their complete contact information in a database. I call this The Universe of Suspects.

A Prospect is someone who has shown interest in what you do or is known to be in a buying cycle. It is a minimum level of qualification above Suspect. Usually the next step with a Prospect is to have a business conversation to learn more about their problems, where they are in their buying process, budget and more. Only after this information is gathered and analyzed can the Prospect go to the next level – what is commonly called the Qualified Prospect.

A Qualified Prospect is one who has a need and is aware of it, have the authority to buy or commit, have a sense of urgency about making a buying decision, has a level of trust with your company and has the budget to buy.

I’ve developed scoring systems for clients to further segment Qualified Prospects to determine the optimum level of resources to invest in each segment. For example, a prospect who has indicated a need, has urgency and budget, but is only one of several people that need to sign off on a deal would get a lower score than someone with the same level of qualification, but who can make the decision.

This evolution from Suspect to Prospect to Qualified Prospect to Customer is, by it’s nature a linear process. Marketing produces Qualified Prospects from the Universe of Suspects. Sales ideally should be focused completely on Qualified Prospects.

I mean, wouldn’t you rather spend your valuable resources talking to people that can actually buy? I know I would.


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