All sales leads are not created equal. In sales, we can spin our wheels working on the wrong leads, wasting valuable time barking up the wrong tree. Here’s how to save time by narrowing in on your target customer.

1. Ask the Right Questions

It takes time to really understand what the right questions are for your sales process. You’ll soon figure out which ones are leading you to dead ends.

Start with basic company information that’s relevant (company size, industry, location), then move on to business needs. When’s the last time the company purchased a copier? If it was in the last 5 years, they might not be in the market for another. Do they have marketing staff? If so, a consultant might not have anything to offer.

Hubspot has a great intake form with all of their free ebooks and whitepapers. In addition to basic contact and company info, you are asked what your biggest marketing challenge is. It’s a free-form box, so you can write whatever you want. I’m willing to bet if you put in “inbound marketing,” you’d get a call.

2. Shut Up

A lot of the time you waste in chasing the wrong leads is spent talking. You talking. You’d do better to listen to your lead. While yes, we know your product is awesome and has some neat features, hear what your contact is saying about his needs. You can either fit them or not. But if you don’t take the time to listen, I guarantee the customer will find someone who will.

3. Defrost the Cold Call

Naturally your biggest pile of unqualified leads is on your cold call list; am I right? Hang up the phone and instead do a bit of digging before you call. Google’s an amazing tool in that it can tell you everything you need to know about a company or individual. You might find out a lead is out on maternity leave, or that a company is filing bankruptcy. Save yourself the call.

4. Create an Online Funnel

If your product is online, create a leads qualification system. It might be a la Hubspot: you can create a free report or eBook and require people to answer questions before downloading. You can put ads on Google to target potential customers. Write a blog for your company and include links to pages that offer more product information.

Always make it easy to contact you, and in various forms. Not everyone jumps at the chance to call a salesperson, so make email and social an option for getting more information. Once you have the lead, don’t jump too soon. If a lead emails you, don’t call them; first email back with information, then follow up through the same channel. Make your lead comfortable throughout the process.

5. Have a Process

I’m a recipe girl. I hate it when my husband whips something up and can never duplicate it. It’s the same with the sales process; have a system in place so you can duplicate your success and share it with other members of the sales team. Have a consistent strategy for your company so that everyone’s qualifying leads in the same way.

Once you find your formula for sales success, document it. Conduct training for new and existing sales staff, and take feedback on the process.

Leap of the Week:

Qualifying your leads up front before wasting too much time pestering someone who’s simply not interested can help you increase sales faster and save you time in the process.