Coach Your Sales Reps to Disqualify Bad Opportunities

Increase sales productivity and meet revenue goals by disqualifying bad prospects

Bad opportunities in your sales pipelines are worse than no opportunity at all because they distract sales reps and divert resources from converting high-quality prospects.

Successful sales leaders consider disqualifying prospects to be as important, if not more so, as finding qualified leads.

Why Your Sales Reps Should Disqualify Prospects

If your sales reps are chasing after prospects with a low probability of converting, they won’t have enough time and resources to make up for the loss when the deals fall through. They’ll miss their forecast and be unable to provide any advance warning to the rest of the company, impacting the success of the entire organization.

Chasing a poor opportunity isn’t just a waste of a sales team’s time and effort. In later stages of a deal, many other departments are involved, e.g., to generate a detailed needs analysis or onboard a pilot.

These tasks bear not only a hard cost but also an opportunity cost as resources are diverted. Not to mention, missing revenue targets can have a significant impact on the entire company and the career of the sales leader.

How to Increase Sales Productivity by Disqualifying Bad Prospects

To avoid the negative consequences of pursuing bad sales opportunities, you need to take a proactive approach by coaching your sales team on how to effectively identify and disqualify (DQ) bad prospects. Here are some key strategies:

Look for “Buyer-Centric” Signals

Waiting until prospects “go dark” isn’t a good strategy for proactively identifying poor-quality leads in your pipeline. To flag a potential bad opportunity as early as possible, you should analyze past successful deals, identify their commonalities, and compare a current deal to see if it matches the key criteria.

Provide a checklist to show what sales reps should know about the buying team, business case, and buying process at each of the stages (i.e., discovery, analysis, negotiation). If they can’t obtain the specific details at the end of each stage, the opportunity should be disqualified so resources can be redirected to refilling the pipeline.

By sharing a team-wide rubric of what “qualified” means at each stage of an opportunity, you provide sales reps with a rationale to follow while making it less risky for them to disqualify leads.

Adjust Management Expectations

A pitfall that many organizations overlook is how manager expectations affect sales reps’ approach to prospecting.
If management focuses on a fat pipeline, chock full of opportunities, regardless of their quality, it will drive up the number of bad opportunities hanging in the pipeline. Not only will these bad opportunities lower the close rates; they will also distract your sales team.

On the other hand, if managers expect a killer close rate, then reps will be more proactive in disqualifying bad leads so they can focus on the good ones. Even though these leads may require some effort to close, it’s more likely you’ll meet revenue goals and improve the performance of the entire organization.

Support and Educate Sales Reps on Proactive DQ

Encourage sales reps to let go of bad leads by giving them enough good leads or providing the necessary support so they can actively find high-quality opportunities.

In addition, show sales reps the commissions they’re passing up by not DQ’ing leads to dissuade them from holding onto bad opportunities. For example, share a spreadsheet that demonstrates the value of DQ’ing as soon as possible by putting a dollar value to those minutes spent on low-quality leads. You can also show the impact of applying that time to nurture relationships with high-quality prospects.

Further, coach sales reps to actively say “no” to prospects that aren’t a good fit. Doing so can help your organization gain instant credibility as a trusted advisor. Not only will you save a lot of time and resources by not pursuing poor opportunities, but you’ll also build a good reputation and increase chances the prospects will return when they have a need that matches your solutions.

Build Prospect Disqualification Into the Sales Process

Sales reps should be proactive in disqualifying bad deals, yet too many companies aren’t giving them the support to do so systematically. It’s important sales leaders spend the time and effort on coaching their teams on how to effectively disqualify prospects as early as possible so that the organization can increase sales productivity.

To do so, build in checks and balances at each stage of the sales process to focus on increasing the knowledge about the prospects – e.g., understanding who’s on the buying team and what their priorities are, how your solution can help them accomplish those priorities, if they have agreed to a mutual action plan (MAP) toward purchasing, and most importantly, whether the sales process is on track.