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June 12, 2022

Highly Likely Prospects VS Qualified Sales Prospects. What Are The Differences?

Yesterday afternoon I got a call from a young man that read my book on sales prospecting, and he was a little confused over what I meant by “Highly Likely Prospects”.
This is the essence of what I told him.

A qualified prospect means that they are able to buy if they want to, and it’s conceivable that they could buy.

For example, if you are selling internet marketing services, a qualified prospect might be a small business owner who advertises their business, and is there when you show up for an appointment.

When I sold vacuum cleaners in people’s homes, a qualified prospect was someone that worked full time, had a phone, was the head of the household (or one of them), and if they were a couple, both would be there for the appointment. If they met this criteria, it was possible for them to buy, and it was conceivable that they would. If something was missing, for example they had no job…a sale was almost certainly not going to happen. If the husband or wife wasn’t there when I arrived, there was almost zero chance of a sale.

A Highly Likely Prospect is someone who has shown by past behavior that they are highly likely to buy from you. For example; They bought from you before, they bought what you sell from someone else, they belong to a group that has proven that they often buy what you sell, they know at least one person that bought from you, there are others…for example; (when selling in home)

1) If found that if the person financed something through the same finance company that I worked with, and had a loan about to be paid off…they were almost certain to buy from me. That doesn’t mean they wold talk to me, or wanted what I sold, but if I gave them a presentation, they would almost certainly buy. So I made arrangements with the manager of the finance company to get a list of customers about to pay off their loan. A highly valuable list.

2) if the customer bought a different high end vacuum cleaner (from an in home salesperson) and it was more than 5 years ago, they would almost certainly trade it in on what I was selling. Almost a guaranteed sale. So I arranged to get the names of customers that bought other vacuums from in home salespeople. Sometimes by referral, and sometimes just buying the list from the other sales organization.

3) A referral from a customer that was qualified (meaning they had the minimum qualifications) was highly likely to agree to see me, was certain to be there when I showed up, and almost always bough. Why? Because they had a relationship with a customer. They saw me as a favor to their friend, not a favor to me. And they bought because the already knew someone who was happy with a purchase, and they knew that buying was normal and expected. peer pressure played a part.

Just three examples. But being a Highly Likely Prospect didn’t mean that they were already interested in what I was selling. That’s a mistake salespeople make.

It was truly rare that I found someone already interested in what I was offering. To get those “already interested’ prospects, you can cold call, do direct mail, and other marketing methods.

And when I went on qualified appointments (not highly likely buyers), as long as they talked to me, there was about a 40-50% chance that they would buy from me. Their interest developed in the presentation.


When getting lists of people to call on, I really want them to be Highly Likely Prospects. And if they are a referral, I want them to be Highly Likely Prospects. And if they are a referral, and have another qualification (like bought from an in home salesperson before), then the list of names is worth its weight in gold.

I’m on the lookout for people that are Highly Likely Prospects. I’ll seek out those lists, and find factors that make them highly likely to buy from me. But I will accept an appointment with anyone that is qualified…meaning that it’s possible that they would buy.

But if I don’t have an appointment with a referral, or an appointment with a Highly Likely Prospect, any qualified appointment will do….because I still have a great chance at a sale.

I was talking with a sales trainer that trains insurance agents.

He was talking about the leads that the agents have…people sending direct mail pieces asking for information on life insurance. I laughed and said “You mean you have people [I]interested [/I]in buying? For decades, everyone I saw had sworn an oath, before I got there, that they were absolutely positively not going to buy anything from me.”

What I’m trying to say here guys, is that they don’t have to already be interested in buying, before you get there. They just have to be willing to talk to you…the “interested in buying” develops as you discuss their problems, and how your offer can help.