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Social Selling: How To Qualify Your Sales Prospects

In today’s episode of the Social Selling Show, Daniel and Will discuss how to qualify your sales prospects and stop wasting time talking to the wrong people. 

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Featured on this episode:

Host - Will Barron
Founder of Salesman.org
Guest - Daniel Disney
The King of Social Selling

Resources:

Transcript:

Will Barron:

This episode of the show is brought to you from the Salesman.org HubSpot studio. Welcome to the Social Selling Show. Myself Will Barron, founder of Salesman.org and the King of Social Selling, Daniel Disney. Daniel, how’s it going mate?

 

Daniel Disney:

Will, it is going good. This is the first time we’ve recorded in a couple of weeks. As you can probably tell, I’m in slightly new surroundings, we moved house. So yeah, settling in well, but certainly a chaotic few weeks.

 

Will Barron:

Good. Well, you sound great, you look great. I’m sure the office/studio space, you’ve got big plans for it moving forward. We look forward to seeing all that and congratulations on the move. I guess it’s probably the most stressful parts of most people’s lives over then, perhaps kids and things of that nature. Anything non-family related, I’m sure moving is right up there.

 

Daniel Disney:

That and writing a book Will. Definitely.

 

What is a Sales Qualification Process? · [00:55]

 

Will Barron:

Okay. With that, we’re going to talk about qualifying on this episode of the Social Selling Show, as I say it slowly so I can get my words out properly. Although that was also terrible English, as I said that sentence. We’re going to talk about qualifying. So Daniel, we can talk about BANT, MEDIC, there’s many different acronyms. Let’s just touch on what qualifying the sale actually is, before we then tie it directly to social selling. What is the qualification process?

 

“Qualifying in its rawest form is just finding the right people to sell to, and not wasting your time trying to sell to the wrong people that don’t have the money, aren’t interested, don’t have the need, et cetera.” – Daniel Disney · [01:18]

 

Daniel Disney:

Qualifying in its rawest form, is just finding the right people to sell to, and not wasting your time trying to sell to the wrong people that don’t have the money, aren’t interested, don’t have the need, et cetera. I have to admit Will, of all the conversations I have with sales leaders over the last couple of months, qualifying is being pretty much top off the list, if not in the top three priorities for sales teams this year. Seems to be a real big focus point. So I’m really excited to dig into it because the whole sales qualification, marketing qualification, and obviously social qualification, I think it’s a big grey area and hopefully we can dig into some of the key themes around that.

 

Daniel’s Thoughts on Why Qualification is Such a Hot Topic in the Current Sales Environment · [02:38]

 

Will Barron:

I’ll ask you why that is in second, because that might be an interesting kind of side topic to go down. But just for anyone who is completely unfamiliar, I typically use BANT, the acronym. There’s unlimited acronyms. There’s MEDIC, and then people stick a P on the end, and have MEDPIC and all kinds of things, but BANT is, do they have budgets or authority? Do they have a need and is there a firm timeline? If you can hit those boxes, you pretty much on track. Different acronyms, different methodologies for different industries and deal sizes, but BANT is pretty well recognised. I think it was actually created in the 1950s, so there’s 70 odd years worth of data and research behind it. But why do you think qualification is such a hot topic right now for yourself, Daniel, with the consulting and the training that you’re doing?

 

Daniel Disney:

I think a mixture of virtual selling growing so much, is a whole different environment. I imagine it’s one of many things that has probably been lost and forgotten throughout that process. But also, if I look across the sales industry over the last five years, qualifying hasn’t been a big topic. It hasn’t been one of the topics you see lots of authors writing about, lots of experts and influencers creating content around. So I think it’s been neglected or I think it’s now coming to a sort of a reality that salespeople is one of the most important parts of the sales process. And so, yeah, I think it’s just jumped up the list through various reasons and rightly so.

 

The Importance of Sales Qualification and How the Pandemic Impacted Cold Email Reply Rates · [03:24] 

 

Will Barron:

It could be that, I know in my career medical device sales, I only had a finite number of potential prospects to engage with. Only had a geographical location I could work within. So I had to qualify hard because otherwise, I’m just going to waste a lot of time with people, especially when you go into in-person meetings or you’re inventing in in-person meeting by popping your head in the operating room door and saying, “Hey, I just happen to be here”, try to get a conversation going. Whereas now maybe qualifications being less of priority in the fact that there is automated tools to just get your voice out there, and you’re happy with a 1% reply rate, if you can get enough of those emails and cold calls essentially spammed out there. Maybe qualification has become less important up until this point of the pandemic, whereas now the amount of people replying to cold emails and cold calls has significantly decreased. So maybe qualification is top of mind again. That is all, anecdotal the new data behind any of that, but that could be, is that a fair assumption?

 

Daniel Disney:

I think it is Will, especially as you’re going to dig into social selling today with social media. You’re talking to pretty much an infinite audience of hundreds, of millions of people. For that very reason, it is even more important to think about qualifying because you are going to be reaching people that might not be interested. And again, it’s probably easier to not qualify properly on social media than it is via a phone call or an email. I guess qualifying isn’t one of the key topics certainly that I see a lot of social selling people talking about, but for everyone working in sales you would know how important it is. So yeah, I guess as you say, in this new sales world that we’re in, is time to bring it back I guess.

 

“If you are sick of being rejected, if you’re sick of people ghosting you, if you’re sick of people not replying to your messages, improve your qualification at the top of the sales process, and you’ll eliminate a lot of that at the far end of it.” – Will Barron · [05:02] 

 

Will Barron:

For sure. If you are sick of being rejected, if you’re sick of people ghosting you, if you’re sick of people not replying to your messages, improve your qualification at the top of the sales process, and you’ll eliminate a lot of that at the far end of it. It makes everything easier. It’s a little bit of work upfront, but it does make everything else easier for everyone. Okay. Daniel, I never really pondered on this over the five minutes before our call here, before the conversation, right? Is there a difference between or let me just take a step back.

 

The “Social Selling Qualified Lead” · [05:30] 

 

Will Barron:

We often have a Marketing Qualified Lead, which is someone who downloads a white paper, attends a webinar, goes to an event and puts their hand up and they are often then qualified somewhat by marketing, typically not very well. And then, they’re passed to sales as a Sales Qualified Lead and sales teams often have their own criteria to qualify them, otherwise they get bounced back or sometimes just get lost within the CRM and never followed up upon. Where does, I’m going to invent this, this might be a thing but I’m not sure if it is, where does a Social Qualified Lead stand in all of this? Is it more towards a Marketing Qualified Lead or is it more towards a Sales Qualified Lead?

 

Daniel Disney:

Will, I think a lot of this depends on the person. I don’t know about you. I have always held as high, a possible standard for a qualified lead for my own prospecting and the teams I’ve led. So for me, a lead isn’t a lead unless there is, as you say, most of those criteria boxes ticked off. Do they have the money? Are you speaking to the person of authority? Do they have needs and the time? Et cetera. I think with social, so maybe we’ll call it, because obviously an SQL is a Sales Qualified Lead. Maybe we’ll call it a Social Selling Qualified Lead, an SSQL. We can [inaudible [00:06:41] on this show. [crosstalk [00:06:43].

 

Will Barron:

It’s pretty you say that mate, because I’ve literally got SQL, SQL, MQL on the pad of paper in front of me and I was losing my own train of thought. So yeah, you’ve covered an important topic right there.

 

Daniel Disney:

Yeah. We’ve done it. I think again, it’s understanding your customer. Some people would probably say an SSQL is maybe someone they’ve connected to on LinkedIn. It is someone you’ve sent a message to. It is someone who’s engaged in your content. Now those, I guess would lean more towards the MQL bracket of things. And then an SSQL that leans towards the Sales Qualified Lead, would be someone who does meet your criteria, who the conversation has gone towards more of a sales tone conversation, and you are identifying either a need or some sort of budget or authority, those types of things. I think you’ll have two types of Social Selling Qualified Leads. Some that will, actually because being connected to someone, starting a conversation, getting engagement from them, these are all positive steps, similar to downloading an ebook or a white paper. But then on the flip side, salespeople need to be leaning towards a higher level of qualification before you really start to think of it as an opportunity, a lead with real potential.

 

Are We Overcomplicating the Process Behind Sales and Marketing Qualified Leads by Adding Social Selling Into the Equation? · [08:00] 

 

Will Barron:

Sure. Okay. So, all we in hindsight then are over-complicating this. Do we need to just get rid of SSQL and people we’ve connected with? Sent them a message but not had a reply from, or we’ve commented on their post and they’ve commented on ours. Are they a marketing qualified lead? And then we’ve got to be very stringent with our criteria before we then consider them whether it’s judgemental in our head or internally within CRM system, we qualify them as an SQL. In hindsight, should we just get rid of this SSQL and just have that defined split between the two, as if we are a combined marketer and sales team, all in one unit?

 

Daniel Disney:

As much as I’m now very attached to SSQL, I agree, let’s not over-complicate it. I think maybe SSQL will just be good in an explanation perspective, but in reality, yeah, stick to your MQLs and your SQLs and just bring social selling and LinkedIn into it to understand what activities filter into each of those.

 

The Dos and Don’ts of Reaching Out to Marketing Qualified Leads · [08:58] 

 

Will Barron:

I’ll put you on the spot here slightly, say you have someone reach out over LinkedIn. They’ve consumed loads of your content. They’ve been on your websites. They are essentially MQL and the inbound lead coming over to you. Would you try and qualify them over LinkedIn? Reply to the message and find out whoever, authority, needs, timeframe, budget, or would you immediately just try and get them on the phone? If you’ve got an instinct that they’re probably going to be an SQL at some point, do you just get them off the platform on the phone and try and qualify them there?

 

Daniel Disney:

Most of the time I’ll try and get them off the platform. It will be a reply first, but the reply will be, shall we set up a phone call, a zoom call, a teams meeting, or a face-to-face, whatever it may be, where the conversation can be had in a much deeper context? I would say maybe 5% of the opportunities like that, that I get, they want to stay on LinkedIn. Sometimes it is a case of just going back and forth a few messages and the deal can be done. Again, depending on the deal size, et cetera, and need. But yes, most of the time take it offline where you can have a far much stronger, deeper conversation and potentially take it through to the next level.

 

Why You Need to Communicate with Buyers on Their Preferred Platform or Medium · [10:10]

 

Will Barron:

For sure. That’s my experience as well. I find a lot of tech startup founders, and startups could still be outreached IO, doing hundreds of millions of revenue rates, still because of the startup. When I’m engaging those individuals for either sales training on our platform at Sales.org, or more likely advertising space on the Salesman podcast, a lot of them will just want to do a deal back and forth over email. You’ve got to be comfortable asking what is a, it shouldn’t be a difficult question. People do find it difficult to have. What is your budget for this quarter? There’s millions of ways to phrase it up, but essentially that’s the question you’re asking. It is sometimes appropriate to ask these questions over, I’ve never done over LinkedIn, but over email and we’ve got to respond to what the buyer wants. Right? We’ve got to communicate on the platform at the cadence that they like.

 

“The majority of your customers and prospects are probably going to be better off taking it (a conversation) outside of LinkedIn and getting them on the phone, getting them on a zoom meeting where you can have a deeper conversation.” – Daniel Disney · [11:28] 

 

Daniel Disney:

Yeah. You’d be surprised how many people are quite comfortable to talk about that on LinkedIn. You can ask them, “Who is it that signs this off? What sort of budget do you have for this project, for this keynote, for this training?” Whatever it may be. A lot of people are quite comfortable to talk about it on LinkedIn, and you would be surprised how many people. So how many people and also how far you can get in the sales process, virtually, digitally as such. But again, I don’t want to create a false picture probably for the majority of salespeople out there. The majority of your customers and prospects are probably going to be better off taking it outside of LinkedIn. Getting them on the phone, getting them on a zoom meeting where you can have a deeper conversation. Just don’t discount people that might want to stay on LinkedIn for a bit longer.

 

“Our job is to serve the customer, to add value to them. Sometimes that value can be in deal acceleration, going from pain point to pain being solved and shrinking that time as quick as possible.” – Will Barron · [11:46] 

 

Will Barron:

Yap. We can frame this up very easily from a perspective of our job is here to serve the customer, to add value to them. Sometimes that value can be in deal acceleration, going from pain point to pain being solved and shrinking that time as quick as possible. Now, if you’re trying to do that via a LinkedIn message, when someone checks the LinkedIn once a day and you check through it three times a day, that might take three weeks to get the messages across that you could have in a five-minute phone conversation.

 

The Pros and Cons of Pushing Qualified Leads to Immediately Jump on the Phone with You · [12:11]

 

Will Barron:

So pushing that little bit to get people on the phone, isn’t always necessarily a selfish thing to do, even if someone seemingly does want to just communicate over email. I’ve experienced this as well, people are nervous to be on the phone when they’re just price shopping, and they’re never going to buy from you and it’s difficult. They know that you’re not going to be able to qualify them. They’re more than happy to ask for pricing and information over a message, over email. So you’ve got to watch out for that as well, because clearly at that point, they’re putting a hand up to say, “I’m not qualified”, when they are seemingly avoiding a phone call. So there’s some nuance in all of this.

 

Daniel Disney:

Yeah. I know. I completely agree. It’s going to be variations in the whole thing. But yeah, you are going to have a lot more ease and success if you can get them into having a real conversation. And again, just because when you’re sending messages, you have a baseline of a relationship. When you’re on a phone call, they hear your voice, they hear your tone. When you’re on a video call, they can see you, eye contact, body language. The depth of relationship goes further.

 

Daniel Disney:

There are lots of advantages to taking it outside of that digital space. But as we continue to embrace technology, more and more people are a lot more comfortable when it comes to perhaps not speaking on the phone or jumping on a zoom. There will be people that might say, yeah, let’s book a meeting next week or two weeks time. Whereas actually, if you just spent 10 more minutes going back and forth on LinkedIn, you might’ve been able to do everything that call would have done, and maybe even get the opportunity or the sale instead of having to wait two weeks. So again, you have to play it by ear and make judgement calls based on each individual.

 

Video Calls Versus Phone Calls: Will and Daniel Talk About their Preferences when Having Sales Conversations · [13:51] 

 

Will Barron:

On that point, I do religiously set agendas for phone call meetings and virtual meetings, whatever it is. I tend to prefer a phone meeting than a zoom meeting for a sales conversation most of the time. Typically, as I can do over stuff, I can research things as we’re chatting and on the screen in front of me. But what I do religiously is set agendas. I forward the agenda the moment that the meeting is booked, because then we can follow up after that and say, “Hey, is there anything you’d like to add?” And if they add a bunch of questions, a bunch of objections, typically I can solve them in an email or two before the meeting itself, so the meeting will go smoothly. Is there anything you want to add on that kind of level Daniel? Is anything that we’ve missed in this seemingly quick and seamless episode on qualifying via social selling? Is there anything else you want to add on that front?

 

Daniel Disney:

Only on the flip side. I do exactly the same as you Will, but I’d much prefer a video conversation or a face-to-face in an ideal world. But yeah, video for me works better. I use the phone a fair bit, but yeah, zoom-in and teams I find take it a little bit deeper. But I do the same. I guess with LinkedIn, those sort of conversations, you don’t really often have time to prep or plan or set agendas, so you have to be ready to think on the spot and react quite quickly. You want to be responding. Think of it in the way that you would communicate with your friends and family. If you’re texting people, you text quickly. You don’t wait hours and hours to reply. If you really want to capture that opportunity, you need to be ready to respond quite quickly.

 

Daniel Disney:

You need to think on the spot, so you don’t have the advantage of an agenda. You don’t have the advantage of them giving you insights in what they need to know. You have to be ready to respond quickly. I guess the advantage, similar to what you’re saying Will with being on the phone is when you are messaging, you can have things open in the background to find information, to do your research, et cetera, as you’re going. So, yeah, it’s a slightly different conversation. You need to be there and in the zone, but do it right, be very successful.

 

Will Barron:

Sure. Because I like to lead in insights, to have data on the screen or top facts on the screen. So that’s why I prefer being on, I don’t want to say a phone, it’s usually a Skype call, right? But also as I say this, and I can feel my leg twitching on the table here. I like to walk around on my sales calls. I have my AirPods in, and I just do laps around the house. So it’s not always the fact that it’s just a kind of data in front of me. I find my conversations more productive, they flow more easier. I can deal with objections in that kind of flow state a lot better when I’m actively moving. Now, as I’m just trying to imagine this, if I had my phone trying to walk, I’m going to make everyone sick as they’re kind of watching the video. I heard that the bouncy around followed me around.

 

Comparing the Effectiveness of Video Calls Versus Phone Calls when Having Sales Conversations · [16:30] 

 

Will Barron:

So yeah, there’s multiple elements of that. I’d be interested to know, I don’t know who would do this. Maybe Gango or someone could look at the data of this, of success rates of a qualification call, a discovery call. Someone that isn’t the whole sales process. I’d be interested to see the data on which is more successful, a phone call or video call. If someone told me that you’re more effective, 20 more effective, more likely to deal, to process and move forward with video, I’d be more than happy to shift to that. So I’d be interested to see the actual data on some of this.

 

Daniel Disney:

It’s a really good point Will. I’m an animated talker as well, and I’ve always enjoyed a headset or apples or whatever it is, and walking around. I do find that really helpful. So it’s interesting you say that. I think I found myself doing more video calls throughout the last year for an obvious variety of reasons, but you make a very good point and I would be equally interested to see if there is any data about success between both of them. I think there are advantages to each of them. It’d be curious to know, certainly in 2021, is that one that is better or they’re equally just as good.

 

Will Barron:

For sure. There’s probably too many variables, but I will reach out to Gango, I’ll reach out to Chorus as well. And anything that I can uncover on that front, I’ll link it in the show notes of this episode. With that, that was Daniel Disney, the King of Social Selling. My name is Will Barron and I’m the founder of Salesman.org, and that was an episode of the Social Selling Show, covering qualification.

 

Daniel Disney:

See you next time.

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