With all this talk about qualifying and how to qualify a prospect, it’s critical to ensure that, especially those of you who are attempting to cold call for the first time or prospect in a more unique or innovative way than you’ve done before, you understand the difference between qualifying and judging a prospect.
To permanently eliminate any confusion, lets draw a distinction between what it means to pre-qualify and pre-judge someone, such as a prospect. If you read my cold calling book, you know that I’m a strong advocate of pre-qualifying anyone before you invest your very limited and precious time in meeting with or speaking with them. Conversely, pre-judging someone is something you do that shows up in the filter or barrier you have in your listening, which was created out of the assumptions you’ve already made about that prospect.
Here’s another way to distinguish between the two. When you are pre-qualifying someone, you are arriving at a conclusion that determines whether or not there’s a fit worth pursuing based on a defined set of criteria you uncover through the use of well crafted questions. You are solely focusing on the prospect, not yourself and what you have to gain or lose, to determine how you can add value or if there’s a match between the two of you.
Pre-judging said simply, is all about you. Here, you are relying on your faulty and costly assumptions, thoughts and beliefs to determine their needs and whether or not this prospect will potentially buy from you.
When you pre-judge someone, you’re making assumptions about them before you ask any questions or uncover many facts. Maybe you’ve judged them by their appearance, where they live, their type of business or industry, how they sound over the phone or a comment they made. In essence, you’re “already” listening and forming conclusions based on your defined set of criteria rather than the facts.
When you pre-qualify someone, you’re asking questions to uncover their specific needs and objectives, without making any assumptions. You are learning about the prospect based on the responses you hear from the questions you ask. You are being fully engaged and present in the conversation with that person, rather than in your own head forming conclusions or operating off your agenda. This way, you’re making a decision to pursue this prospect based on reliable intelligence instead of your overactive imagination. (Here’s another distinction: authentic fit vs. a pipedream. )