If you have a headache, you take an aspirin. If you have a toothache, you visit the dentist. Both are examples of seeking solutions when we are in pain and desperately want the discomfort to subside – finding solace that in a short period we’ll begin to feel better again.

The best sales prospects are customers that currently have a problem and are looking for an immediate solution to stop the pain. As professional salespeople, our job is to get them to realize their distress and then offer a solution that will alleviate their suffering.

If your customer is someone who is in pain, and they know it, that’s ideal. If your customer doesn’t know it, and you can get them to realize it, then it’s the next best thing. However, if you cannot effectively get your customer to feel any pain, there’s no motivation for them to buy. Many prospects that we might define as needy are in “denial” – they just don’t want to believe they have a problem that requires a solution.

Here are the five requirements for having a qualified prospect:

1. They have a need (ie. they are “feeling the pain.”)

2. They understand the importance of finding a solution.

3. They have the authority to address the need and implement a solution.

4. They have the money and are willing to spend it to find a solution.

5. They’re willing to accept our help in offering a solution.

High performance professional salespeople know to look for prospects that meet requirements #1/#2 – customers that have a need and perceive its importance. Never over look the importance of #3/#4, as if you have a client without the authority and the money to do business with you, you may find yourself in sales purgatory.

Also don’t underestimate the significance of #5. Potential buyers must be open to the idea of receiving your help. It’s a waste of time and resources to navigate yourself through the first 4 requirements only to be blocked from closing the sale. Many times I’ve personally worked with customers that admit they have a need, appreciate its importance, had the budget and authority to solve it, but simply did not want outside help. This is why knowing who qualifies as a top prospect is crucial to your success as a professional salesperson.

Minimally, there has to be pain for you to gain!

Have a terrific week,

If there are specific topics you’d like to see discussed in a future issue of The Sales Cycle, please contact me at 612-278-0223 or