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5 questions to ask to qualify leads like a true sales professional

How to better qualify leads: get enough information to decide how likely the opportunity will convert into sales.

A client and sales person shaking hands

People that succeed in sales by qualifying leads do three things extremely well:

  1. They have a methodical approach to building a sales pipeline.
  2. They are masters of qualifying leads.
  3. They follow up relentlessly.

Today, we’re going to talk about qualifying leads, aka getting enough information to decide how likely the opportunity will convert into sales.

Keys for the initial call

The key to qualifying a lead is to quickly find out if the prospect is a good fit for your company. If so, then use the call to further dig in and invest your time to try to get them on board.

There are various questioning methods to help convert more sales. But for an initial sales call there are three tips that you must remember:

  1. Don’t try to “sell”: Turn off your salesperson hat and stop vomiting information
  2. Actively Listen: Actually pay attention and document the key points they’re telling you
  3. Ask the right questions: Keep reading…

Knowing how to effectively ask relevant questions is absolutely critical to the qualification process.

So, below we’ve outlined some questions that can quickly help you find out if the lead is a viable sales opportunity.

5 questions to ask for qualifying leads

  1. Can you give me a quick summary?

Before you jump in and give them a “pitch”, get them to talk first and tell you why they got in touch with you:

“Can you give me a quick summary of what you’re looking for so I can see if we can help you?”

This gives them a chance to explain their needs, lets you profile them as a customer (what do they need? how big is the company? where are they located?) and get an idea of the total value they represent in terms of a sales opportunity.

Moreover, this question is important because it lets them know that you’re not a desperate salesperson and changes the psychology of the conversation from you selling to them selling to you. This is crucial and puts you in a stronger position.

Also, this initial summary should very quickly let you know if they are a good fit for you as a client and whether to pursue it.

  1. Who are the decision-makers?

A polite way to find out how much weight the person on the phone carries as a decision-maker is by asking:

“Who would be the decision-makers involved with this process?”

This gives you the bigger picture of the roles and responsibilities of the people involved (especially if you’re dealing with a large commercial tenant) and whether you need to consider the weigh-in from other people that might make or break this deal.

Find out who are the key influencers, detractors, and the person that makes the final decision.

  1. What are the key features?

Once you have a better sense that this prospect is a good fit for you then you want to get them excited and ask more about what they’re looking for:

“What are some of the key features that are important for you?”

It’s important that you focus this part of the conversation on key features. The last thing you want is a laundry list of items and put yourself in a difficult position to deliver.

  1. Do you have a contract with anyone else?

Don’t ever forget to ask this question:

“Do you currently have a contract with any other company?”

If they do, find out the details and whether you can even work with them. Is it exclusive? Is it legally binding? When is the cancellation date?

Make sure you have your bases covered and your a** protected.

  1. Are there any obstacles?

Finally, sometimes it’s important to uncover any potential threats that can blow up your deal and it’s better to find out as early as possible.

Simply ask:

“Do you see any obstacles that could prevent this deal from happening?”

The answer to this question will also give you the crucial element you need to focus on to close the deal and whether the potential risk is worth your time to pursue this prospect.


As you continue building your sales pipeline and scheduling your initial sales calls, remember that lead qualification is a crucial step to helping you win more deals. Don’t jump into automatic “selling” mode, rather try to actively listen and ask relevant questions to get the insights you need to find out if the person you’re speaking with represents a viable sales opportunity.

What questions are you asking?

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Ellen Vessels, a Staff Writer at The American Genius, is respected for their wide range of work, with a focus on generational marketing and business trends. Ellen is also a performance artist when not writing, and has a passion for sustainability, social justice, and the arts.


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