You can never expect to consistently exceed your sales targets, unless you learn the art of utilising your available time as effectively as possible every day. Time is a limited resource, which when invested wisely will allow you to achieve remarkable results and when wasted, will keep you trapped in average. Chasing after every possible lead or prospect, without first qualifying them, is as effective as screaming at an approaching tornado and demanding it go away. If you do not qualify prospects, you just spend your day spinning your wheels and may on occasion hit pay dirt, but more often than not, you are going to just waste time and achieve very little.

Know your value proposition
It is impossible to qualify a lead or prospect, if you are not 100% clear on what you offer or how this will benefit your lead or prospect. You can never sort through viable prospects or leads and chose the ones you will invest time into winning over as customers, unless you know whether what you offer will serve them in the first place. Clarify what you offer, become clear on what benefits it brings to your customers and you will save yourself hours every day sorting through possible leads and qualifying prospects. The effort you put into qualifying prospects and leads saves you wasted effort as you will only invest resources into the right people, who need exactly what you have to offer.

Prospects are like you; they also have a limited amount of time available and do not want their time to be wasted by people, who try to sell them something, which cannot completely satisfy their needs. They only want to know what is in it for them and whether your value proposition will satisfy this. When you are properly prepared and you know exactly what your value proposition offers and how this will serve the prospect, they will very quickly see your competence and this will turn into confidence and finally they will begin to trust you offer. As you know people only buy from people they know, like and trust. They can and never will learn to like or trust anyone, who is unprepared, does not know their own value proposition and tries to wing it.

Convert Qualified leads into Sales
Qualified leads and prospects are the fuel, which drives the sales engine and in turn drives revenue, within any organisation. So any sales professional, who wants to consistently exceed their sales targets, needs to spend sufficient time researching every prospect, until they get a crystal clear picture of what the prospects needs are, how their value proposition will satisfy this and how they can partner with the prospect and develop a mutually beneficial relationship with them. The more prepared you are before every sales call and the more clear you are about the purpose for each call is, the more your prospect will sense your preparedness and they will quicker they will warm to you and your offering.

Turning your Qualified Prospect into a Customer
According to Everett Rogers, who published a book called “Diffusion of Innovation”, turning a prospect into a customer goes through five distinct phases – awareness, interest, evaluation, trail and finally adoption. Your knowledge about your value proposition and the research you have done around the needs of the prospect and the decision maker put you in a powerful position to start moving your prospect down the path from a place where they become aware of your value proposition, to a place where they finally adopt or purchase your product or service.

Creating Awareness
If you are working with a targeted prospect, who you have carefully selected, because of their perfect fit for what you have to offer. There is no better way of connecting with them, than arranging a face to face call with them, to introduce yourself and your value proposition. As you know this is not always possible as the decision makers often have gatekeepers, who make reaching them extremely difficult. This is where you need to become a little creative and where you must use every medium at your disposal to get them to become aware of you and your value proposition.

Action Idea: Use Social Media
Social media is a really powerful way of connecting with qualified prospects. The secret to make this work for you is to never to try to sell them anything via social media. As soon as you try to introduce your product or service on any social media platform, people will just block you or ignore you flat. Social media is about giving and sharing, so to use this medium effectively, first just connect with the person via Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.

Once they have accepted your connection request, research them and find ways of sharing and giving them content, which is aligned with their hobbies, interests or anything else, which will allow you to build connection with them. As they get to know you and see that you are a trusted connection, ask them what they do for a living. People love to speak about themselves and so they will share some very valuable information with you, information, which will serve you later, as you build the relationship.

All people are curious and after they have described what they do and who they are, they will ask you a similar question in return. When they ask you the question about what you do, this is not the time to jump in with both feet and try to sell to them. Gently introduce yourself and remain a little mysterious, yet offer them sufficient information to make them curious. Once they start to ask more direct questions about what you do and offer, then you can ask for a meeting or a telephone conversation. By this stage they already know you, they have small trust in you and they are interested in what you have to do. You have effectively moved them to the third stage towards choosing your product or service, namely they interested in you have shown an interest in what you do.

How to do it
I carefully target and select my prospects based on my value proposition and their needs. Once I find a perfect fit for what I offer, I then identify the decision makers within the organisation and I try to make contact with them. If I am unsuccessful in arranging a meeting, I then find other innovative ways to connect with them via social media. My first port of call is LinkedIn, as this is more accepted as a medium for making business connections. I then research the prospect, using Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and other media, if I am unsuccessful at finding the information I need via these media. It is seldom necessary to look much further than these forms of media as in 95 % of the cases these media are sufficient and you can gather all the information you need.

I then either start to build the connection by regularly commenting on their posts, or sending them information related to their hobbies or other interests. This is a gradual process and does not happen in a day. It is only effective if you are consistent and persistent. I have set up my CRM system with reminders to help me stay focused and on track with this process. You need to have a number of prospects at various stages along the process. As you close one prospect; you need to refill the pipeline, by adding a new prospect, which you have carefully selected and targeted.

Evaluation and Trial
Once you have moved your prospect from awareness to interest, the next phase is evaluation. This is the time you need to remove all risk from the mind of your prospect. You obviously believe in your product or service and you have researched and qualified your prospect properly, so offering them a 100 % money back guarantee, carries no or very little risk at all. It does however show your prospect that you believe in what you offer so much that you are willing to give it to them for free, if it does not do what you say it will do. This removes the risk from the prospects mind and gets them to trust you and what you have to offer.

After testing your product or putting it on trial, they will realise the wonderful value you bring and will buy from you with confidence. You can only follow this process if you believe in what you offer and if you trust what you sell. Believing in what you sell is fundamental to becoming successful in sales, so if you would not buy what you sell for the price you are selling it, you will obviously never succeed in sales.

Author's Bio: 

Andrew Horton is one of South Africa's top sales training experts. He will support, uplift and inspire sales professionals to explore the limits of their potential and awaken the sales giants, which resides within all of them. His sales training presentation is aimed at inspiring sales professionals, helping them to become re-energised and eager to achieve their sales targets. The sales tools and powerful tried and tested practical sales techniques, they will be introduced to during his presentation, will help any sales professional to immediately up their game and to become a real sales giant, within their markets. Visit my website at