Qualify Not Close: Make Selling Easier On You

Qualify Not Close. You see a ton of emphasis on The Close in traditional sales training. Get that prospect in there, and BAM! Hit them over the head with The Close. Kill 'em like a squirrel in a deadfall trap.

Killer, huh?

You want to be a killer?

What if word starts getting around that you're a killer when it comes to sales? That this is the attitude you bring to the sales conversation?

Why You Should Qualify Not Close

It may work for appliances and cars—people stupidly buy vehicles, a long term, large financial investment, as if they're deciding what brand of orange juice they like—but in a real, senior B2B selling situation you're likely to get "niced out the door" by the prospects you're hoping to "kill."

Let me ask you this: What matters more...what you say, or what they say?

If you answered, "What I say," you're in error.

If they say it, it's true. If you say it, you have to defend it.

Even if it was exactly the same thing!

Closing without Qualifying is exhausting.

shouting qualify not close

It's mud wrestling that prospect to the ground and pinning them there...in the mud.

It's getting hit with objections, trying to come up with the memorized rebuttal, and overcome the issue.

It's presenting to those who are not necessarily a fit to even see your offer. And the fast-tiring struggle that comes with that.

So while you may have a book in your hands that promises to teach you The Secrets of Closing, what it's really teaching you is how to get tired out trying to force square pegs into round holes. Can you do it? Sometimes. But man, is it exhausting.

Qualify Not Close To Use Your Energy Well

I don't know about you, but I don't have the energy for that.

I don't have the energy to support the case for what I offer entirely on the force of my personality, or my confidence.

If they say it, it's true. If you say it, you have to defend it.

I'd much rather get the prospect to say it.

I'd much rather get the prospect to tell me exactly why they're a fit for this offer.

I'd much rather get the prospect to close themselves.

And the way to do that is by Qualifying heavily up front.

Before any kind of dog and pony show. Before any attempt at a Close.

Put your effort into Qualifying, and you'll have a much easier time Closing. You'll have a lot more energy left over, too.

Even another well-known sales trainer, who really pushes the Closing thing, says this: Fill your funnel to the point where it's overflowing.

OK, he didn't use such nice language, but that was the point. Fill your funnel so that you have so many leads—you can do what?

Pick and choose.

Select those who are most likely to say, "Yes!" to your offer.


Yep, that's qualifying.

Behind the big bang of The Close, which is what everyone thinks and says they want, is Qualifying...which is what they truly need.

Hmm...give them what they say they want...they said it, so it's true...but sneak in what they really need...I have to admit that's good selling.

>> Jason Kanigan is a sales trainer and business strategist. To book a consultation with Jason to discuss your Qualification issues, click here. <<


What Is a Funnel?

what is a funnelWhat is a funnel?

In sales and marketing terminology, a funnel is a series of steps to filter and bring your many prospects to becoming a few qualified buyers. That's it, at the funnel's most basic level.

We can add upsells, downsells, cross sells and other elements to our funnel, but let's start with the basics.

I explain the three components of a sales and marketing funnel in this video:

Jason Kanigan Explains: What Is a Funnel?


So we see that a funnel contains three basic pieces. And if any one is missing, that funnel is 'broken.'

The Three Parts of a Funnel

Each of the three components of an effective funnel do a specific job.

First you need a Lead Generation System for bringing in traffic. Hopefully this traffic is at least somewhat pre-qualified; the more qualified, the better. But also, the more pre-qualified, the more expensive that traffic will be.

We are looking for larger numbers here. Prospects entering the funnel here will have to be filtered down to smaller numbers.

Second, a Qualification System is necessary. This component will filter leads from being unqualified prospects to those who are a fit for the offer.

Note that you are losing people as they progress through the funnel. This is normal and desirable! It is perfectly acceptable to have people who are not a fit for your offer to be gently and politely shunted aside by your funnel.

Third is a Closing System.

Written or VSL copy, graphics, layout and design...all these combine to comprise the Closing system.

Can you see how if all you're relying on is this piece of the puzzle, you are making life difficult for yourself?

Copy on a sales or landing page will qualify somewhat. But if you are getting a ton of traffic but only a handful of conversions, odds are your funnel is broken and you are doing a poor job of qualifying.

Can you see how by asking "What is a funnel?" and breaking the process up into each of these components, we can isolate them and see which one is working or needs improvement?

I frequently say, "Your traffic source is as or even more important than the sales copy."

Can you guess why, now?

That is part of the Lead Generation component. And if that part has been ignored, the quality of leads is likely to be low. Earning conversions off low quality traffic is tough work.

Final Thought On What Is a Funnel

Instead of throwing traffic from blind ad swaps or solo ads at your sales page and depending entirely on the Closing System to do all the work, build backwards from the revenue you want to generate.

You need so many sales to make the money you want to make over a period of time.

So, estimating at first but gradually building confidence in your estimates from real performance data, how many prospects do you think have to make it through the Qualification System?

And going back up the funnel, generating that larger number of qualified prospects waiting to be closed, how many leads do you think you need to enter the funnel's Lead Generation System at the top?

Leads >>> Prospects >>> Buyers.

We could estimate, for example--and this is an example, and likely not representative of what you will experience--you want 10 buyers this month at $297.

So that's the bottom of your funnel: 10 Buyers.

Moving up from there, we estimate a 2% conversion is what can be expected at this early stage in the funnel optimization process. We don't know how good our copy is yet. So 10/2% = 500 qualified Prospects.

Remember this is the path from qualified Prospect to proven Buyer we're talking about here, not the entire funnel. We could throw traffic at a Closing System and be very pleased with 1-2% conversion. But that's not talking apples to apples here.

Now we can go up to the top of the funnel. Those 500 Prospects...to get them, we initially estimate 1 in 10 entering the funnel will qualify for the offer.

So what have we learned?

We need 5000 Leads to enter the funnel.

If during the month we don't get 5000 leads to enter the funnel, and have sufficient time for them to pass through the process, we know we won't reach our revenue target. This tells us how much traffic to buy or direct.

By splitting traffic and qualification into two components, we can see a) how good our traffic source is, and b) whether our Qualification System works the way we think it should.

If you get through the month and you put 5000 Leads into the funnel, but only 300 Prospects made it to the qualified middle...you know that's where the problem is.

Keep in mind that these ratios are for THIS traffic source and THIS offer. Change variables and you'll change the expectations.

If you have any questions of your own about "What is a funnel?" please ask them below.

>> To get Jason's help with your funnel creation or optimization, click here. <<


The Death of “Closing Techniques”?

closing techniquesThe Ben Franklin.

The Alternate Advance.

The Puppy Dog.

All closing techniques.

All still valid?

Let's look at three things of note about these closes. First of all, prospects are "on" to them. These closing techniques have been around a very long time, and buyers have seen them many times. So even though their faces may not show it, they know what you're doing.

Second, are you really going to memorize the literally hundreds of these closing techniques--and remember the precise one to bring out for your current situation?

Third, do they actually work? Seriously. I strongly suspect you would have made the sale anyway, regardless of the exact closing technique you used.

Some Key Thoughts On Closing Techniques

Is a closing technique effective on someone who is aware it's being used on them? I believe this depends on how strong your up front contract with the prospect is. If they agreed to go along with you in the process, then yes it should work because they agreed to the rules.

How about memorization? I trained Kung Fu for four years, four or five nights a week. And I've found learning sales methodology is a whole lot like training a martial art. One moment that stands out in my memory is a friend who was a fellow student saying, "You train the advanced techniques not to use them in a fight. You probably won't remember them. But you will be more competent with your basic stances, punches, kicks and blocks."

I continue to mull this over, many years later. I'm not sure he was right. When training, we develop 'muscle memory'. That muscle memory enables our body to quickly react to certain stimuli: a guy popping out of the bushes to our side, for instance. It doesn't rely on thinking memory at all. In that first moment, you don't have time to think at all. Your trained technique is the quick reaction of your body to defend itself. Sales conversations are just as fast.

But now comes the interesting point for the advanced student. This will not happen for newbies, because they are still crashing around, wondering what's going on. But students with some experience have seen things. Time slows down for them after that initial instance of surprise. I can tell you if I see someone coming down the street with intention to harm me, I have a very long time to decide what to do. I can come up with the advanced technique. And if I survive a surprise attack, that slowdown of subjective time also occurs. We're in familiar territory now.

Let's take this to selling. Your newbie is surprised by everything that happens. Prospects behave strangely, don't do what you expect them to, and you haven't laid out any ground rules for your discussion. Everything is an accident.

Your advanced student has seen a thing or two. They know the situation they're getting into; perhaps they have had this conversation many times with similar prospects. They are aware best results come from getting agreements on ground rules for the conversation (up front contracts), and they know for the most part what prospects are going to do. How they are going to try and get free consulting much of the time. How the salesperson must keep control of the process, or become an unpaid consultant. And they have time to come up with the advanced solution or technique.

So memorization of many closing techniques may be effective. But is it the best way to proceed?

If prospects know what you're doing, even if they've agreed to go along with it, they may become resentful. And if you make a mistake and use the wrong technique, you'll get the equivalent of a broken kneecap in sales: a busted conversation. Shut down.

For advanced sales students, it's pretty well known now that if we ask the right questions we can uncover the real reasons a prospect would buy. We know how to qualify them. And so regardless of the closing method we happen to pull out of the toolkit for this instance, I believe we have a very good chance of making the sale--because we have done the ground work well already.

Make sense?

Let's think about what we want to accomplish with closing techniques. To get the sale, right? If the prospect is qualified In, why not? Well, this approach puts a lot of pressure on YOU. But the pressure should be on the prospect, shouldn't it? They're the one with the big problem that badly needs fixing, and they know it. Instead, how about having the approach of wanting to achieve the close because you don't want to become an unpaid consultant.

Think about it. You don't want to give away your knowledge. So you make sure you don't do that unless your client is all signed up. This approach keeps you from getting into conversations where you get taken advantage of. It protects you. And it also benefits the prospect, because it ensures you will only get involved with clients you are very happy to be working with. Furthermore, you don't have to memorize hundreds of techniques you may never use. I believe closing techniques ARE dead. Instead of 'closing', build your process around becoming a paid consultant for your valuable expertise. Roll this around in your mind.

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