Step 3: The Lead Interview The LeadInterview is just a series of questions that you will use to find out if theperson in front of you is a good lead.
So who is a good lead? A good lead issomeone who: has authority to purchase your products.
In other words, is adecision maker or at least can influence one.
Has a budget or purchaseprocess compatible with yours.
And, can purchase in your timeline.
A good lead isalso someone whose identity you know.
Who has no obstacles to doing businesswith you.
And, of course, who needs or wants your product.
An easy way toremember these criteria for identifying a good lead is with the acronym ACTION:Authority Compatibility Timeline Identity Obstacles and Need Let's take acloser look at each of these.
Authority: "Do you make the decisions about coursemanagement software for Itty Bitty College?" "Do you make the cleaning productpurchases for your family?" A good lead has authority to purchase a product likeyours.
Savvy sales reps don't just want to know their potential customer will beout in the event, they want to know the decision makers for their product willbe there.
Trade shows know this and usually provide exhibitors with a 'Profile ofAttendees' This profile typically includes a breakdown of the year'sprevious attendees by role or industry.
Make use of this.
Ask yourself: What are the roles of thepeople attending the event I'm preparing for? Which of these roles are thedecision-makers for purchasing the kinds of products I'm selling? To illustrate,let's consider again our imaginary company 'Newbie.
' Newbie, a company selling course management software, has rented exhibit space at a rather genericeducation trade show and conference.
Because the conference offerseducational lectures, many organizations send staff who don't have muchpurchasing authority.
So, attendees at this show will include decision makerslike principals and board members, but also lower-levelstaff who may not be decision makers.
Like tech staff, teachers or librarians.
Knowing this, Newbie will want to identify non decision-makers as quicklyas possible and disengage from them.
Compatibility: "What budget did you havein mind for this?" "What's your company's process for purchasing a product likethis? Do you use an RFP?" A good lead has a budget and purchase process compatiblewith yours.
It seems obvious, but remember someone is a good lead only if they canactually afford your product.
It can be useful to know up front that certainindustries usually can't spend what your product costs.
Or, to know that onlycertain products you offer tend to be in their budget.
You also want to know ifthe purchase process for your potential customer is compatible with your company.
Why? Some customers may rely on a purchase process that your company can't support.
An RFP for instance is a large document filled with questions forvendors to answer.
Sometimes this document is hundreds of pages long.
Responding to an RFP can require the company to devote a lot of time andresources for a relatively small chance at winning that business.
If you knowthat a potential customer is likely to have a purchase process that is a realhassle – like an RFP – confirm that early on the Lead Interview so you have a chanceto disengage.
Time: "When were you hoping to have the decision made aboutthis purchase?" "By when do you need this solution?" A good lead can make purchase decisions in your preferred timeline.
How long does it takefrom the time they decide they might purchase a product like yours toactually making that purchase? Think about the purchase timeline for each ofyour products.
Does the purchase timeline differ for different industries? Nomatter how interested a customer is in your product, if they have just signed afive-year contract with the competitor and they have a two-year purchasetimeline — they aren't a good lead right now.
It will be another three years or sobefore they are thinking seriously about working with a new vendor.
Identity: "What organization are you with? Can I get some contact information from you?" "Do you have a business card on you?" A good lead has an identity you know.
It seems obviousbut in order for someone to be a good lead you have to know their identity.
Inorder to take ACTION with a lead, they have to be willing to share contactinformation with you.
Also identity reminds you the person you are speaking with isn't someone with whom you don't want toshare information.
Someone like a marketing professional trying to gathercompetitive Intel or a competitor.
We'll talk more later aboutdealing with competitor situations.
Obstacles: "If we determine Newbie'ssoftware meets your needs, is there any reason we can't do business?" A good lead has no obstacles to doing business with you.
Understanding the obstacles that exists in selling to a potential customer alsomakes you more effective in overcoming those obstacles during your conversationand of course eventually making the sale.
In addition to the obstacles wediscussed already like timeline, budget and purchase process obstacles ofteninclude emotional factors like: an aversion to risk, hesitancy to adopt anew company or technology, a customer's uncertainty if your product can meettheir needs or a generic emotional aversion to your product or company.
Likea feeling that your company is too big for them to give them personal attentionor that the company doesn't care about their industry.
Really an obstacle as any unanswered question in the customers mind.
A doubtthat will prevent them from making the commitment to buy from you.
Needs: "Tell me three problems your ideal course management software will solve?" "Are there things you don't like about your current face cream?" Finally, a good lead isobviously someone who needs or wants what you have to offer.
What kinds ofpeople are likely to buy your products and why? What wants or needs do they havethat your product can solve? Once you know who might need your product, make a list of the potential customers at the sales event you are preparing for.
This will often be a breakdown by industry.
Potential customers couldinclude B2B (business to business) or B2C (business to consumer) or both.
Let'sconsider again 'Newbie' at our imaginary education trade show.
At our make-believeeducation trade show, there are also a wide range of organizations in attendance.
Including K -12 schools, large colleges, small colleges, trade schools, onlineschools, government organizations and corporations who have trainingdepartments.
Since they might manage or sell courses online, all of these mightrepresent potential customers for Newbie.
Depending of course on how well theymeet the other requirements of a good lead that we've discussed previously.
We've just reviewed the general characteristics of a good lead using theacronym ACTION.
Now let's take a look at how to apply ACTION to ask the rightquestions during the Lead Interview.
Don't worry, you don't need to know the answersto all these questions going into an event and you probably won't.
However, ifthe answers are already known, they can help sales reps better decide who mightbe a good lead and be on the lookout for those folks of the event.
In fact, theLead Interview itself is a great way to get information about your customers.
Forinstance, sale cycles and purchase processes in different industries.
That'sjust one more reason while you'll want to take really good notes during yoursales conversations- Something we'll discuss much more shortly.
To recap, the lead interview is a series ofquestions that you will use to decide if the person you're speaking with is agood lead.
So who is a good lead? Remember the criteria of a good leadwith the acronym ACTION: Authority, Compatibility, Timeline, Identity, Obstacles and Need Remember to always take really good notes during the leadinterview– you'll need them later!.