How to qualify your prospects

We sell a lot of advertising on our site. With about 200,000 unique small business owners visiting every month, it is an attractive location for companies who want to reach this market.

I field calls and emails every day from prospective advertisers and I can tell within a second or two whether someone is truly a qualified lead or just kicking tires. It all boils down to what they ask, what they don’t ask, and how they ask it.

I look for these warning signs:

  • They ask only for a price quote without providing any information about what they are looking to accomplish or specifics on the type of ad they want to buy.
  • They only clicked the “send info” checkbox on our form without putting anything in the comments/questions field.
  • They start by saying they don’t have the biggest budget.
  • They have never or rarely advertised online before (this tells me they will likely have unrealistic expectations).

The best prospects do one of two things:

  • Ask lots of questions.
  • Say exactly what they want to buy or the goals they would like to achieve and only then ask for a quote.

In other words, the people who will end up actually buying are the ones who look for value.  Value is a combination of quality and price.

If your prospects don’t ask a lot of questions or are focused only on your price, save your time.  Don’t blow them off.  That could be perceived as being rude and may cause reputation issues for you.  Just know that they will not be your best customers.

You can direct them to other options that might be better suited for their budget.  This will also show that you care about their needs and this will enhance your value.  You might find, as we do, that budgets magically get bigger when you show your real value.

Side note: if you are interested in getting information from a sales person and you feel that they are not paying sufficient attention to you, think about whether you inadvertently sent any one of the warning signs to them.  They may not be taking you seriously because you disqualified yourself.


    • I see many small business owners chase very low quality leads because they have nothing else to chase, or so they think. What they don’t realize is that this wastes time that they could be spending to source higher quality leads – i.e., people who have 1) a true interest in their product or service and 2) money to pay for it. Without both, the lead is not qualified and should not be pursued.

  1. I agree on the fact that it is better to work with the higher quality leads rather than the low quality leads, however, I think that it also depends on the industry and the clientele that you work with. Our company delivers freedom by providing modified vehicles and adaptive equipment for people with disabilities, and sometimes it may take some of our customers months if not years to be able to get the vehicle that they need. So, although they might not have the funds at first, if we stick with those customers and help them out, some of them actually become our best customers over time. Great post Raj!

    • Thanks for the comment, Rob. The process you described to qualify prospects is in line with the way we do it. For your industry, the caveat is that you accommodate for a longer sales cycle. In other words, you’re nurturing the qualified lead so that once they are ready to buy you are in the front of their minds. Good job!

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