How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
Once your potential customer is in the sales funnel, you have three routes: convert the potential into an actual by closing the sale, get rejected by the customer (they walk away) or qualify them out of the funnel (you walk away).
Qualifying is a difficult art at the best of the times, and in many ways, qualifying out is more difficult than other forms of qualification.
Qualifying out means that you have to continue to assess every deal before it has reached fruition to determine whether it is worth spending more time on it. Just because it seemed worth continuing yesterday, it does not mean it will continue to be worthwhile tomorrow.
Use careful criteria
Rather than using intuition and guessing what to keep and what to reject, use explicit qualification criteria and an assessment method that allows you to make a conscious and rational decision.
The key reason why a deal should be qualified out is that you will be better served by spending more time on a more profitable deal.
The fear of loss
Ideally, deals are qualified out as soon as possible, but this is not always easy. The fear of losing a sale can often lead to sales people leaving deals in the funnel far too long and wasting time that is better spent elsewhere.
The nagging doubt is 'What if I'd kept on a bit longer? Would I have made the sale?' The fear of loss thus leads to sales people investing and wasting time on deals that will never come to fruition.
The sunk cost
Another reason why sales people fail to qualify deals out of the sales funnel is that they have invested a significant amount of time already in the prospective sale and yet continue to do so, even when the prospect is not really worth the continued effort.
This sunk cost leads sales people to hang on like a gambler who has already lost a fortune yet continues to throw good money after bad.
Qualifying out is effectively an admission of failure to effectively qualify in. When a deal is qualified out, it is thus easy to turn your back on it. After all it hurts to think of the waste of your time and errors of judgment in allowing it to stay in the funnel for so long. But to do this is to miss a trick.
If you can pause to analyze the reason why they were not qualified out earlier, you can improve the value creation of your sales funnel.