This post is part of my autumn/winter series on Surgical Performance Metrics. The purpose of these posts is to:

  • Help Sales People analyze, measure, and improve their skills,
  • Help Sales Manager to proactively manage and develop their Sales People, and
  • Help Sales Executives to better drive the sales operation top-down.

Impact of Improper Qualification During a Sales Call

In my view and based on working with Sales Managers since the early ’90’s, the most pervasive problem confronting Sales People is not properly qualifying their buyers during sales calls. In fact, because this problem tends to be so widespread, it is likely the most underestimated yet critical challenges confronting Sales Management.

When Sellers don’t qualify or mis-qualify their buyers during a sales call, the result normally is that they conduct opportunities with buyers who are too low in the buyer organization. This has a significantly negative impact on the opportunity, the Seller, and the sales organization. It results in not getting to the real buyers (as a VP of Sales once said to me, “They are an amorphous cloud”), elongated sell cycles, a significant waste of time, a low probability of a win, and inaccurate pipelines and forecasts.

It can be encapsulated with the term, “Calling Below the Power Line” and measured accurately with a straightforward metric, which we call the “A/B Ratio”.

The Power Line Defined

As depicted in the image, the power line describes, separates, and differentiates two key types of buyers:

Buyers “Below the Power Line” may be described as those who:

  1. Do not have the power to buy, nor do they have the power to cause a decision to take place.  They are influencers at best.
  2. Often times shield sellers from the true buyers who are above the power line, or, as a VP of Sales once describe it, making the real buyers “an amorphous cloud”.
  3. May favor the competition or view the seller as their competition and purposely shield the true buyers from the seller.

On the other hand, buyers “Above the Power Line” may be described as those who:

  1. View what you are selling as an investment in the business
  2. Have the power to buy, or at minimum, participate in the decision-making process
  3. Will give a seller access to other key buyers above the power line who will also participate in the buying decision
  4. Have enough power to agree to all steps to take leading to a buy decision.

We call an opportunity where the seller has gained access to buyers above the power line an “A” opportunity. We call an opportunity where the seller is below the power line a “B” opportunity. And, therefore, the key performance metric is, simply, the “A/B Ratio”. It measures an individual seller’s ability to qualify buyers by gaining access to power. Importantly, as you move up the chain of command, it becomes the key metric to measure the effectiveness of an entire sales operation, from sellers, through managers and right up to the VP of Sales.

In my next posts on Qualifying During a Sales Call, we’ll “dive deeper” and look at:

  • Where most Sellers’ A/B Ratios are if they don’t properly qualify during a sales call,
  • The time impact on Sales People and the organization of having poor A/B Ratios,
  • What Best in Class organizations are able to achieve, and
  • The processes that Sales People and Managers should follow to achieve Best in Class.

Additional Information

In the meantime, provided below are references to additional information that you may find beneficial: