Which Qualifying Questions to Use in the Sales Process?

How do you know if a lead is a right fit for your company or vice versa?

By asking qualifying questions to potential customers, you can learn more about each individual lead’s needs and problems.

The answers to these questions can then be used to determine whether you can help a client, where they are in the decision-making process, and to decide whether the lead is worth pursuing.

Why are Qualifying Questions Important?

By digitizing the first part of the sales process and posing qualifying questions early on, it’s also possible to streamline the sales funnel.

With a digital qualifying questionnaire, it’s easy to identify if a customer is a proper fit for your business. Qualifying questions serve a number of purposes in the sales process, including:

  • A simplified way to get to know a client better. 
  • Help to determine whether a company can help a client with any problems they are facing. 
  • Allows for a better-customized approach going forward, in order to increase the odds of turning a lead into a client.

A client’s answers to your questions could reveal that you aren’t a good fit for them, so you won’t waste any time or effort trying to sell to the client. This means more time and energy to focus on more promising leads.

Take for instance a company selling industrial air conditioning parts. Using a qualifying questionnaire, you can ask potential customers how big is their enterprise, what type of business they are, and what type of products they work with. Having a questionnaire that can instantly return a report with a quote and all the information your prospect needs can greatly improve your conversion rates.

The questionnaire might reveal that a customer doesn’t work within your range of expertise. Without the questionnaire, the customer may go far down the sales funnel before both parties realize this isn’t a good match.

Or, the questionnaire might reveal that they are a properly sized enterprise, within your industry, looking for the type of personalized recommendations you can offer on improving their air conditioning.

What Qualifying Questions Should You Ask?

Asking the right qualifying questions can help to better examine each lead and determine whether or not they are a good fit, and how committed they are to making a purchase.

Below are just a few of the questions companies should be asking in their digital qualification questionnaire. These questions are a good choice for both B2B and B2C companies. 

When working exclusively with B2B clients, more specific questions about the company, their brand, and their clients may also be a good fit for the questionnaire, generating more information about the solutions they offer their own customers. You’ll need to learn about not only the problems the business is facing but also the problems they are seeking to fix for their clients. 

For instance, consider a marketing consultancy. When creating a questionnaire, they not only need to learn what problems the business is facing in reaching clients but also what these clients are hoping to gain by working with them. This will help the consultant to create tailored ads for the business’ customers, and choose the right medium for reaching those customers.

With B2C questionnaires, this middle step is removed. Questions are focused on the customer and his or her experiences and goals.

Qualifying questions

Let’s take a look at some questions a B2B consultant should ask in a qualifying questionnaire.

1. What pain points are you hoping to fix with this offering/product?

If individuals or businesses are taking the time to reach out to you, it’s unlikely to be preventative. Instead, most will be facing a specific pain point they are hoping a product or service is going to be able to fix.

Asking this question upfront is two-fold; it helps determine whether the client is a good fit for you, and vice versa.

If you can’t help with the problem the business or individual is facing, they aren’t going to wind up a happy customer. Knowing the issues they are facing will also help to better prepare the rest of the sales process, demonstrating how you can help.

Research shows 80 percent of consumers are more likely to do business with a company offering a personalized experience. Customizing solutions to each client can go a long way towards landing the contract or sale.

Take for instance a marketing consultant, he or she might choose to use this question to determine why a business is reaching out for marketing help. One company may answer that they are brand new and need to start marketing, while another might respond that their previous marketing efforts are no longer drawing in new clients.

With these answers, the consultant can begin to tailor a plan for how they would handle that business’s marketing needs in order to net them the best results.

2. Why did you choose to tackle this problem now?

While the ultimate goal should be to help the client fix their problem, this question is still an important one.

Understanding the motivations behind fixing the problem could help to better understand why the problem is occurring. For instance, if the client mentions new management or another shift in operations, they may be more motivated to work quickly to address the issue. If a problem has been ongoing and simply hasn’t been addressed before now, they may be less motivated and may need more prompting to take the leap and get help.

For the marketing consultant in the above example, this question would let them know a little about where the business is in its journey. A brand new business will need more help finding the right mediums for marketing, while an older business might have an idea of where their target customers are shopping, and therefore have a head start on where their ads should appear.

3. What solutions have you tried in the past?

Similar to the previous question, this one helps to better prepare an approach for offering a solution to the problems a client is facing.

Understanding why a client wasn’t happy in the past presents an opportunity to tailor a more positive experience for them. This won’t just result in a happy customer, but can actually lower the costs of serving them by as much as 33 percent.

This would be another essential question for a marketing consultant to ask. It would let a marketing company know whether certain advertising efforts have failed so that they can develop new strategies for a business to put to use to hopefully get better results and identify where competitors may be falling short.

4. How did you find out about our product/service?

If you offer a referral bonus to customers, this question is important. But even if not, it’s still worth asking.

To start, it helps to identify any successful lead sources, like social media pages or an advertising campaign.

A marketing consultant might ask this question to find out whether a business saw one of their ad campaigns for another client and liked what they saw.

5. What would happen if the problem was ignored?

While the right questions can aid in adjusting the sales approach, they may also help to identify weak leads.

If a potential client responds that choosing to do nothing about the problem they are facing would have no effect on their operations, it’s unlikely they are truly motivated to invest time or money into solving them.

For instance, a marketing consultant might use this question to find out whether a business is desperate to see results quickly. Marketing efforts are rarely an overnight solution, so managing a business’ expectations from the start can help to prevent a disappointed client.

6. Who will make the final decision?

Many companies will have secretaries or other employees seek out solutions and products to try. This means the person making contact is not the main decision-maker for a project.

If you aren’t speaking to the main decision-maker, it’s a good idea to try to reach him or her. Otherwise, this may lead to having to go through the sales pitch or funnel more than once. While it may be worth it for a great client, if the lead falls through, this will be time wasted which could have been spent on other, more promising leads.

Marketing consultants will often create a pitch with samples of ads or a mock-plan for how they would market a business. Pitching to the person who will ultimately approve or reject a plan will help save time and effort, just the same as using a proposal software will do in the pitching process.

7. What is the budget?

Whether discussing finances with a new partner or discussing budgets with a client, money talks are rarely comfortable. Psychologists tell us discomfort when having a money talk comes from a fear of judgment.

Clients may be wary to reveal their budget at an early stage out of fear of raised prices. And many businesses fear asking about a budget will cause them to lose a client before they ever have a chance to win them over.

However, having the budget talk early can help both parties determine whether the partnership is a good fit. This also creates a chance to customize a solution based on the client’s budget constraints.

As with other personal information being gathering from businesses and individuals, make sure to consider data privacy laws when discussing client budgets.

This is another essential question a marketing consultant would ask in a qualifying questionnaire. Without it, a consultant may develop a detailed pitch, only to discover that the business’ budget is far below what they can accommodate.

Creating an Effective Qualifying Questionnaire

Creating a digital qualifying questionnaire is a great way to add automation to your sales process. There are plenty of ways they can help you streamline your sales funnel by:
  • Helping you identify pain points early on in the sales process
  • Helping you understand why your prospect is choosing to solve their problem now
  • Getting to know the solutions your prospect has tried in the past
  • Learning how they discovered you and your product
  • Teaching you about how not solving your prospect’s pain point would affect their business
  • Learning who the decision-maker is
  • Learning what their budget is
Qualifying questionnaires will save you time and help you invest time in the right prospects.
If you’re ready to create a qualifying questionnaire, Pointerpro can help. Our software helps create automatically-generated, fully customizable questionnaires to be used to gather information and plan the rest of the sales process. Within just a few minutes, you can determine how ready a customer is to make a purchase, learn what they already know about a brand, and prepare to position the product or service as the solution they’re looking for.
Click here to learn more about our questionnaire software, or sign up today to get started for free.

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About the author:
Stefan Debois

Stefan Debois

As the CEO of Pointerpro, Stefan focuses on how to get the best results from the tool - preferably backed with real-life data.

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