The “Rating” Game

November 27, 2012
Staircase

A good sales process requires one end result…conversion.

What is the most intangible asset that you have as a business owner, developer, builder, or realtor? It is your “book of business” or your lead database. You’ve had great success in generating leads, but have you been successful in developing goals, defining your rating system and implementing action plans to qualify and convert those leads?

Lead management is more than a process; it is the groundwork for assessment of conversion probability and determination of sales-readiness. It allows your sales team to focus the majority of their attention on the sales-ready leads, and not distract sales productivity with unqualified leads. It is a known fact that sales teams increase their efficiency and productivity based on the clarity of a “sales-read lead.”

The first step toward conversion is lead qualification. This is the discovery process that begins with the first point of contact, when the lead is first introduced to you and continues until you’ve converted them to a customer/buyer.

Profile – Begin with what you know. The best scoring systems utilize demographic and psychographic attributes. Analyze your current customers/buyers. Are there similarities among this group? What patterns can you identify to better profile your buyer? Why did they purchase your product? Where are they from? What obstacles/challenges did you have to overcome to close the deal? What was the average length of time to convert?

Assessment – Review the criteria. Now, use these findings to gauge your new prospects and to develop a checklist, which defines the key criteria for qualifying your new prospects. Are you finding similar characteristics between your buyers and your prospects? How engaged is the prospect with you and your product? Do you have enough information to determine the interest level? Where are they in the decision making process? Are you dealing with the key influencer or decision maker? Do they have the necessary information to make an informed decision? Do they understand your product and value proposition? What is their budget? Does your product offering meet their goals?

Rating System – All prospects  are not created equal and some are more likely than others to convert into sales. You need to use more than your gut to determine the best qualitative and quantitative measurement for rating your prospects. Be sure that the rating system you implement is based on probability to close and is an adopted system-wide or company-wide standard of prospect rating. This is critical in managing the sales funnel effectively. The following three questions will form the basis for the rating system: Explicit qualifiers: 1. What is the timeframe for purchase? 2. What is the budget? 3. Who is the key influencer/decision maker? Implicit qualifiers: Rely on what you gleaned during discovery, this is information that you observed or that was inferred about the prospect such as: What is their body language portraying? Measure the prospects direct responses to specific sales points, or their lack of response to particular points. This rating system will help you to identify opportunities as well as to develop a Sales Action Plan to communicate with all of your prospects in the pipeline wherever they are in the purchase cycle. You will need to tailor this rating system to your specific situation. Utilize a rating metric (whether it be alpha or numeric or something as simple as hot, warm or cold) that works in conjunction with your CRM system; for example:

A – Prospect is ready willing and able; Purchase timeframe – Immediate; Can meet the necessary budget and has purchase authority

This is a prospect that has demonstrated specific interest in your project and has taken an action such as touring the property, in many instances, more than once. They have provided evidence of funding. This A prospect has cleared all major objections and is prepared to go to contract or sign a check.

B – Prospect is ready and willing, but unable to close for 1-3 months

This is a prospect that has some short-term obstacles to overcome, whether it is a home to sell, or waiting on funds or liquidating assets. The B prospect may not have cleared all of the obstacles and may still be looking at other property.

C – Prospect is willing, but is unable and not ready to close for 3-12 months

This prospect has just begun to look. They may have a home to sell and it may not be listed. They are just beginning their process and do not have the information or wherewithal to close for a longer period of time. They may not have visited the property.

D – Prospect – No lead left behind

The truth is these prospects may represent up to 75% of your database. They have just begun their online search and may have registered on your site for additional information; they may or may not visit the site. Don’t discount the D prospect yet! While they may not represent your next sale, they can be a powerful referral engine.

E – Expired

We will not convert every lead to a sale. While we work diligently to convert or to obtain a referral, the ability to recognize the end of a prospect lifecycle is key to lead management.