How do I know who’s my real customer?

Real customer qualification criteria

How do I know who's my real customer by Jane FranklandWhen I wrote the title to my blog I really thought, can I actually say what I want to say? And, that is, “how do I know who’s my real customer and who’s just dicking me around?” I came to the conclusion that yes I can, as that’s exactly what some customers or prospects can do – they can dick us around!

I’m asked repeatedly… how do I know who my real customer is and who’s just dicking me around.

And, my first question back is always … why do you let them?

It was then that I noticed something that’s blatantly obvious.

Many of you are not qualifying out your leads or prospects.

So, if you’re struggling to know who your real customers are, I’m going to tell you right now: You need to qualify your prospects right from the start.

I’ll explain.

Why you want to qualify your leads and prospects

I don’t think any one would argue that the Internet has changed the way we buy. Most customers and clients don’t wait for a salesperson to call them anymore. They Google everything and get information via the web. As a result marketing meets our prospects far earlier than ever in the buying process – often long before they’re actually really ready to engage with a us, let alone buy.

When they’re ready to though, it’s essential to find out whether they meet your ideal customer criteria.

You see, whilst we’re all on a level playing field when it comes to time (we all have 24 hours in our day), no one will dispute that time is one of our most prized assets. Time is money. However, time does not equal money. Time earns money, but money cannot buy time. You can never take it back. It’s limited in resource.

As an entrepreneur, you have to be mindful that whatever you say yes to, means that you’re saying no to something else.

And this is why you have to qualify out your prospects and customers from the start. In order for you to create a sustainable profitable business, and increase your revenue, you have to value your time.

Needs, wants and logistics

As you know I’m a big fan of ethical, professional selling. I can’t stand people who con or rip others off. It’s never sat well with me. It’s sleazy, it’s icky and it’s unprofessional!

For me the most important attribute of someone who’s selling is the ability to match needs to wants. And, to do this requires you to qualify your leads and contacts. In other words, to work out if the person you’re talking to is actually likely to buy from you.

For many, this isn’t as easy as it seems. Here’s an example. Most of you have seen the film, Pretty Woman, with Julia Roberts, who plays Vivian. One of the most memorable scenes in it is the Beverly Hills shopping scene, when she enters the designer shop looking cheap and under dressed! The salesperson looks Vivian up and down and instantly decides that she’s not going to be a customer. She doesn’t ask her anything. Instead, she’s rude and Vivian is quickly told to leave – even after she tells them that she has money!

She has the need, she has the want and she has the money. Had the shop assistant qualified her, she would have realised that she was in fact a good customer. And, as Vivian returns to say, “Big mistake!”

The point of this story is that qualifying leads or prospects is itself a major factor in selling. Sadly, the shop assistant had decided that Vivian wasn’t a prospect, because they’d used the wrong qualification criteria. Qualification is about asking the right questions and then thinking without prejudice and presumption.

Tony Robbins is often quoted for saying, “Successful people ask better questions and as a result, they get better answers.” However, when it comes to selling I say,

[box]”Successful salespeople ask better questions and as a result get better sales.” – Jane Frankland TWEET THIS[/box]

So are YOU wasting time with the wrong customers?

That is the question, now, isn’t it?

How do you know whether “I’m on the right track” or “Looks like I’ve cocked up.”

I cover this in detail in my premium training about Selling Made Simple, which will be launching later this Spring.

Warning: If you ignore this exercise, you risk wasting time with the wrong customers and your revenues will show it.

Ok, so now we’re getting down to the nitty gritty. What I want you to start doing at the start of your prospect interaction is to start asking better questions. For example, find out whether the prospect:

  • has a problem you can solve;
  • has sufficient motivation to move forward;
  • has access to adequate funds;
  • has the authority to make a decision;
  • has you reasonably positioned against the competition.

It’s these points that predict whether you are wasting time or not.

With the ability to qualify opportunities under your belt, you can spend more time with the real prospects. You have time to discover what their real needs are, including the “hidden needs” that they are not even aware of. Then it’s simply a question of presenting the products that best meet those needs. You can only make this happen if you aren’t tied up with the time-wasters.

Now I want you to do something for me.

Step 1: Watch the video!

Step 2: Tell me, do you qualify your prospects so you can ascertain if they are real customers?  Share your story in the comments below.

Step 3: Write a list of the things you need to know from your prospect – from the first engagement (when you first communicate via email, Facebook message, phone/Skype call or meeting). You don’t have to get all the questions answered in one go, but start to drip the questions in there during your communication. Be as specific as possible.

Finally, thank you, as always for reading and contributing here. And, if you found this post useful on knowing your real customer, sign up for weekly updates (it’s free) and please share it with your friends!

With love and gratitude – as always,



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Jane Frankland is a successful cyber security entrepreneur, consultant and speaker who has had a diverse career encompassing art and design; business development; and operations. Having held directorships and senior executive positions within her own companies and at several large PLCs, she now provides agile, forward thinking organisations with strategic business development solutions. Right now she is writing a book on gender diversity in cyber security and is focused on increasing the numbers of women in the profession.

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