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Sales Discipline – 19 Pipeline Questions

Posted by Douglas A Wick on Mon, Oct 11, 2010

I promised to provide nineteen questions your sales people should be asking to qualify prospects.  These questions are provided to me through our Gazelles partnership association with Objective Management Group.  When I first started selling I recall being excited anytime I got someone who wanted to speak to me about my service.   Radio sales was a tough business to start a sales career, and someone who would actually speak to you generated a lot of enthusiasm.  As time evolved I recognized that my time was as valuable as my prospects and I learned that if I spent time with someone who wasn’t qualified it meant I had less time to invest in a good prospect.  I can recall having a great debate with another coach, who was my mentor, over the value of qualifying for price.  In his opinion you shouldn’t qualify for price at the outset because the prospect wouldn’t be able to appreciate the value our service provides until after we discovered their frustration.  My view wasn’t it didn’t do any good to explain value if the prospect didn’t have enough money to pay for our services. 

I learned a great deal about qualifying from Jacques Werth who is president of  His principals illumined me to the realization that there are a limited number of prospects ready to buy when we are ready to sell.  It’s important to get in front of those who are ready now, rather than wasting time convincing those who aren’t ready to buy.  The reason we focus on trying to sell everyone is due to a principal he called random reinforcement.  [Subject of another blog, something that works just frequently enough to make us believe it’s an axiom.]

Are your salespeople properly qualifying their leads?  Have you been able to accurately predict your sales conversions and revenue based on their forecasts?  If not then perhaps it’s time to consider the following sales pipeline questions:


Pipeline Question


This quote is for the final decision maker


Decision promised upon delivery of quote


They have a compelling reason to solve their problem


It will be profitable at your estimated cost


The prospective customer is creditworthy


I have developed a strong relationship


It won't upset any existing customers


We have differentiated ourselves from the competition


They have a compelling reason to buy from us


They are committed to buying from someone


They have the money/funding


They know about how much it will cost


I’ve dealt with competitive issues if any


They indicated they prefer to do business with me


There is dissatisfaction with the incumbent vendor (answer yes if no incumbent)


The decision will be made within the next 30 days


The delivery time frame is appropriate


They don't need competitive quotes


Our product/service will solve their problem

Have your sales people review the prospects they have in their pipeline.  Ask them to answer the questions here.  For each yes answer give themselves a score of 5.25%.  If the score doesn’t exceed 80% they probably shouldn’t be completing their presentation to the prospect.  Instead they should acquire the answers to the questions they are missing before they present.  Once their score exceeds 80% they can proceed with the presentation, quote or proposal with confidence.  You might even go back and have them review sales they closed recently.  Discover what percentage they had of these questions answered on successful sales.  You may be surprised to discover the results.

Sales is a critical element of any successful business.  Developing the strategic discipline to operate within a structured process that includes key benchmarks for success is one of the hallmarks to any thriving sales organization.

In Index Card – Execution Discipline I shared how I trained my sales people on how to achieve their goals by reducing their monthly targets to daily and weekly activities.  Last week I helped one of my clients develop his quarterly priorities and his metrics to achieve his goals using the same method.  We’ll look at how you can do this with your company and team goals next blog.

Topics: Sales Process, Sales Training, Sales Discipline

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1. Priorities: Determine your #1 Priority. Achieve measurable progress in 90 days.

2. Metrics: Develop measurable Key Performance Indicators. 

3. Meetings: Establish effective meeting rhythms. (Cadence of Accountability)  Compounding the value of your priority and metrics. 

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Certified Gazelles Coach

Doug Wick, President

Positioning Systems


The Strategic Discipline Blog focuses on midsize business owners with a ravenous appetite to improve his or her leadership skills and business results.

Our 3 disciplines include:

- Priorities
- Metrics
- Meeting Rhythms

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