I can remember a time when I would try and sell to everyone and anyone. Those were in my early and naïve days of selling before I had begun to study people getting consistently good results. I can remember one time driving 5 hours down the motorway for a ‘hot’ meeting only to find that my prospect that I was pinning my hopes on was on holiday! 5 hours there, 5 hours back! What a total waste of time.

At the time I resolved to check before travelling but I have since realised that it was actually a symptom of poor qualification. I wince to think how much time I wasted in meetings and doing proposals for poorly qualified prospects. I was being optimistic and ‘having a go’. What I was not doing is making the best use of my time.

What’s worse, I used to beat myself up mentally when I failed to close a sale. How can you fail to close a sale that was never going to close in the first place? The real failure was not in my selling but in my qualifying.

One underlying cause of poor qualification is an insufficient quantity of leads combined with a lack of clarity as how to distinguish between an idea client and a time waster. If you had so many leads that you could not possibly handle them all, which ones would you pursue and which would you refer on? How would you tell between wasting your time and letting the opportunity of a lifetime slip through your fingers?

‘Well!’, you might say, ‘When I have enough leads I will better qualify them……’

That’s totally illogical. Why waste time pursuing leads that are unlikely to go anywhere. Better to use the time looking for more quality leads. You need to be continually checking that the prospect is open to buying.

At the end of the day, it’s a judgement call. You are going to have to let go of some leads and you will certainly make mistakes. You will, however, be much more focused and more likely to spot the golden opportunities as they come along.

I recently met up with someone who I consider to be a great Soft Seller. When he told me his closing ratio was 4 out of 5, I asked him his secret.

‘I cheat!’ he replied ‘I only bother selling to people I am reasonably sure I can close!’