Qualified Prospect or Ideal Client – Which Comes First?
March 5, 2021

I feel like I’ve read a million articles/books on qualifying new business leads and not one of them mentions whether or not the prospect would make a good client.

Whether it’s the marketing team using a lead scoring method or sales and its BANT, ANUM, MEDDIC or whatever, the focus is on the prospect’s ability and likelihood of buying. It is assessing the quality of the opportunity, with no regard to the equally – possibly more – important quality of the prospect.

I think this is a mistake.

Presumably there is some level of “are we a fit” qualification to decide if the prospect is the right kind of buyer or company. But this is often automated within a marketing app or CRM where only searchable criteria can be used (industry, size, location, etc.).

That ignores the very important, non-quantifiable characteristics of your potential client – personality, company culture, reputation, etc.

  • Will they pay you what you’re worth?
  • Will they stick with you for the long term?
  • Will they be a pleasure for you and your team to work with or will they be a pain in your collective butts?
  • Are you truly able to help them?
  • Will they look good on your website or make a great case study?

For those who are in survival mode, sell a product or service that doesn’t depend on relationships, or have a huge number of interchangeable clients, maybe “ability and desire to buy NOW” is all you need to consider.

For those who are focused on building solid, profitable, on-going relationships, I suggest the conventional prospect qualification route is dangerous, can lead you off the profitability path, dilute your brand, and drive you and your team crazy. We need a better system. It means understanding and sticking to a set of criteria around what makes an ideal client.

When you’re using a one-to-one outreach program that is hyper-focused on your ideal accounts, you already know the prospects you’re talking with are people you want to do business with.

If you’re relying on inbound leads, referrals or less focused outreach, your questions to determine quality of the fit become much more important – and harder to stick to.

At The Conversion Company we focus more on “is this a potentially ideal client” than we do on “does this person have an opportunity right away”. By following that logic, we’ve helped our clients secure not only the “ready to buy now” opportunities but also the ones that lie a bit more into the future along with strategic/referral/networking partners that could have easily been overlooked.

For me, I’d rather have an ideal not-yet-qualified prospect than the other way around.

The Conversion Company is a business development partner for well-differentiated professional services firms and experts. Through hyper-focused pipeline programs, we free our clients from the worries of lead generation so they can focus elsewhere. Reach out to us to learn more about how our experience and capabilities can help your business grow.