Think back to the last sale you thought you had, but ended up slipping through your fingers. Why did it go stale? A lot of time, salespeople have great pitches, understand pain points, and can talk about their virtues of their product to no end – but they still miss the mark. And this is often due to a simple mismatch between your product and your audience.

In this post, the second in our four-part Q&A sales question series, we will explore one of the most critical elements to making a sale: Targeting the right prospects.

Question #1: How do I know that I’m reaching the right prospects for my product?

This question is a common one, and a matter of qualifying leads with confidence. You need to be able to be certain that the prospects you’re engaging with are interested in your product, otherwise you will waste valuable time and effort trying to make a sale when a sale would never have been made in the first place.

One great method for qualifying leads uses the three levels outlined by Inflexion Point.

  1. Organization level: is the prospect organization a company you want to do business with? Does the prospect organization match your company’s buyer personas?
  2. Opportunity level: Does the prospect actually have a need for your product or service? Are they likely to want to make a purchase down the line?
  3. Stakeholder level: Is your point of contact actually in a position to make a purchase decision?

By qualifying (or disqualifying) leads based on the levels above, you may shrink your pipeline, but those that remain will be of higher quality, and worth your energy.

Question #2: How do I prioritize leads once they’re in the pipeline?

Too many sales reps are prioritizing wrong – they give attention to leads in the order in which they enter their pipeline. First come, first pursued. But that strategy ignores the reams of data at your fingertips, and the possibility of truly optimizing your pipeline.

Leads should be prioritized based on the level of interest they have in your product or service, as well as their fit with your buyer persona, to get the most out of your sales efforts. That means that leads that come in via inbound mechanisms, like signing up for your newsletter or downloading content, should be contacted first. Since they have taken a direct action to engage with your company, the sooner you follow up, the more likely they will be to take a second action. And leads that more closely match your ideal buyer – especially if that lead is in a position to make a decision – should take priority over leads that aren’t an obvious fit.

Question #3: How do I ask for a referral?

Timing and etiquette are everything when it comes to asking for sales referrals. The worst thing you could do is ask for a referral right after closing a deal – they haven’t, really, worked with your product, and they probably won’t be comfortable singing your praise to their peers just yet.

Instead, wait until after you’ve delivered your product, and they’ve had some time to get to know its ins and outs. Show them how great you are at delivering on your promise, and they will be happy to spread the word.

When asking for a referral, be direct and remind them why you’re so great. HubSpot has some sample conversations and email templates that you can use with satisfied customers.

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