What Mistakes Do Salespeople Make Regarding Qualification in Customer Relationship Management (CRM)?

In 2022, Antonio Specchia published a book entitled Customer Relationship Management (CRM) for Medium and Small Enterprises: How to Find the Right Solution for Effectively Connecting with Your Customers. This book discusses how to implement a CRM from the perspective of the businessperson -- not the more typical IT consultant or the technical staff. It benefits business development, sales management, and sales process control.

When I spoke with Antonio earlier this month, I asked him: “What mistakes do salespeople make regarding qualification in CRM?” Here is his complete answer:

There are several mistakes that organizations make when it comes to sales -- one of them is failing to understand the needs of their customers. 

But there is one that typically goes unnoticed that it is so often ignored if not totally unknown. Even when organizations include it in their sales process it is often diminished and not appropriately performed by salespeople. As it is an essential part of the process of understanding the client’s needs and requirements, the lack of perfect execution affects the quality of the whole process.

This is due to misleading incentives that favor salespeople's shortcuts, and also because of their positive intention to take prospects ahead in the sales process. 

The capability to escort contacts toward the last stage of the sales process shows the completeness of the job. No matter how, when prospects convert, that’s great! If they don’t, there will always be many valid reasons to claim just apply the politicians’ golden rule, it’s always someone else's fault!

You probably guessed it, we are talking about the qualification stage -- a small process itself within the whole sales process. It is a delicate task that requires a deep focus to be performed correctly: mastering the art of persuasion. How many sales reps know it? How many of them truly master this technique? Organizations should consider its real implications, benefits, and risks.

Inadequate or inappropriate qualifications can lead to several problems that are not always directly related to it: time wasting, over usage of resources, and excessive effort, all problems that can ultimately damage the organizations.

Failing to establish clear and objective criteria to clarify what makes a good fit for their solutions. Defining a buyer persona means disqualifying everyone else. The ultimate sense of a strategy is about taking long-term decisions to focus on one single track, eliminating all other options. Failing to follow the long-term strategy always results in a messy execution. Salespeople spend time on prospects who are unlikely to convert as they are not a good fit.

Taking the time to ask the right questions to gather the right information from the prospect by mastering the art of persuasion during the qualification process is the way to do it. Lack of a perfect execution can result in missing the opportunity to identify key pain points to offer tailored solutions, which can ultimately result in a lower conversion rate.

Several approaches help in designing the qualification process, two of them are the MEDDIC and the BANT. Both are intended to provide a pathway to assess the same important matter: if prospective clients match the ideal client. 

But wrong qualification is often seen just as a go/no-go filter -- in order to proceed any further all the parameters should be in place: the potential client should have a proper budget; a clear, definite need; the power to negotiate and sign the contract; and the necessary time for delivery.

No wonder why salespeople shortcut it: are those parameters fixed and riveted or can they change along the way? 

Experienced salespeople know how a budget and the timing may be adapted to fit a more valuable option, or they haven’t clarified the real need. The sales process is well beyond just the process to grow the business by engaging new clients, it is the moment when each relationship, created and nurtured over a long time may finally develop and mature.

Honesty and transparency are getting more relevant in business. Organizations are now expected to operate with honesty and transparency in dealing with potential customers (https://hbr.org/2009/06/a-culture-of-candor). It means the persuasion of the counterpart should rely on transparency and honesty even without neglecting the power of asymmetric information.

And this is what the qualification process aims for, sharing openly and honestly requirements and expectations on one side and possibilities and value of use from the other side, it enables both parties in developing a more trustworthy collaboration, not to avoid possible sources of revenue to deal with the salesperson. The ones that do not fit into the trustworthy framework will walk away without regret.

Do you agree with Antonio Specchia's perspective? How do Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems function within your organization?