Whether you call it prospecting, screening or vetting, qualifying potential leads is the thorn in the side of many sales reps. If they are lucky enough to have a marketing department generating a steady flow of leads or are working from a cold list it is likely that there will be enough accounts in play that some strategy should be employed in prioritizing who to call and when.

Plenty of things keep a sales rep from qualifying effectively and these skills are some of the first taught to new reps. At the same time, they are some of the first to be forgotten once they’ve “graduated” to other roles or a more mature book of business. While not always glamorous, good qualification is the lifeblood of your pipeline as it ensures the top of the funnel is always full, so taking the time to do it well can be a game changer.

Careful lead qualification actually saves you time

Before reaching out to a prospect it helps to do some vetting to get a better sense of what you might be in for. For those with a robust CRM, your lead intelligence should provide some insight on your contact but good sales reps should lean on all the technology at their disposal. Whether you are simply learning about the prospect’s company or enlisting business intelligence tools to gather info on their customers and competitors, doing some legwork upfront can save time by telling you who not to call.

Many fields have known red flags or target personas they look to avoid based on past experience of either a difficult sales cycle or a potential troubling customer down the road. Be judicious about it, but learning to disqualify early and often can whittle down the list to folks you should spend real time on.

Once connected, by phone or email, further qualification can uncover a real need as well as budget and timeline to have a potential solution in place. This information will be useful later in the sales cycle, and if anything further is revealed to not be a good fit for your product or service you can part ways sooner than later.

A slower sales process may earn you more money

By removing sub-par fits from your funnel as soon as possible you are free to focus on opportunities that warrant more time and attention. Doing your homework in these stages will help identify good fit prospects who are more likely to convert to customers and less likely to churn at the end of their contract.

Beyond the inherent increased likelihood of good-fit prospects converting to paying customers, taking the time to accurately gauge their needs will be a useful card up your sleeve when it comes time for negotiation. With a clear understanding of their goals, consequences of inaction and where you fit into the picture can help you avoid the temptation to surrender too much in margin to seal the deal and land the customer at any cost. In most profit-driven organizations this means more money in the rep’s pocket.

For many B2B or SaaS businesses, retention is what yields real profitability for the business, as the acquisition costs on new business can make breaking even a long and arduous journey. The extra bonus is that genuinely assessing their need to ensure your solution is a good fit for their scenario helps guarantee a good experience. This is especially helpful because 83% of consumers are willing to refer more customers to your company after having a positive experience.

This can lead to predictable and repeatable growth

Sales management teams are focused on predictable, repeatable revenue as it aids in hiring decisions and strategic shifts in determining what is working and how to allocate resources.

While your success is a great perk for the company, getting very good at your qualification process creates a more predictable pipeline, helping eliminate the feast or famine cycle of monthly or quarterly quotas. Knowing where you stand and what needs to be done to move deals forward is not only the key to your own sanity but will likely be rewarded by management as well. As in many fields, getting exceptionally good at your job can open up other doors too.

Patient prospecting can enable career growth

The ability to nurture these good-fit prospects, solve problems and ensure a smooth transition into customer service will help a sales rep in their career by boosting the metrics by which they are measured, whether in revenue, days to close or reducing churn.

Honing these skills allows one to more readily identify patterns among prospects and pull more into their pipeline or teach other reps to do the same. To those running the business, the only thing more valuable than an over-performing sales rep is one who can create others. Being able to articulate what you are doing opens new doors through a training or management track, so it is time to double down on your qualification efforts if you have not already.