Ahoy matey!

Cold calling is a tough gig– it can sometimes feel like trying to sell water to a well. But what if I told you there's a way to make your sales journey a whole lot smoother?

What if you could quickly determine the key decision makers in an organization, figure out if they have the budget for your product, or find out if they’re even interested in what you’re hawking?

Imagine the time and effort you could save, not to mention the boost to your sales game. Well, I’ve got a good one for you today!

In this article, I’m going to arm you with the ultimate set of cold call qualifying questions that will transform your sales team’s approach.

Gone are the days of blindly dialing numbers and hoping for the best.

I’m about to equip you with a powerful toolkit that will help you navigate the rough seas of sales, cut through the noise, get straight to the point, and seize those valuable opportunities.

Let’s go!

What’s a Cold Call Qualifying Question?

In a nutshell, a qualifying question is a strategic way to uncover crucial information about your prospect and their needs to determine if the person is a good fit for your product/service.

It helps you separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak, by quickly identifying the most promising leads and focusing your efforts where they'll yield the best results.

Now I’ve already done a previous article on sales qualification questions where I go into different methodologies like BANT, CHAMP, NEAT, and more – and I shared some of my favorite questions that helped me close deals faster.

So why should you qualify your leads and prospects, even after doing the initial prospecting research? Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Efficiency Boost: By asking the right qualifying questions upfront, you can quickly determine if a prospect is a viable lead or if it's time to move on. No more wasting precious time on dead-end conversations.
  • Targeted Approach: These questions allow you to gather key information about the prospect's needs, pain points, and decision-making power. Armed with this knowledge, you can tailor your pitch to address their specific concerns and position your product as the perfect solution.
  • Enhanced Relevance: By qualifying your leads early on, you ensure that you're reaching out to the folks genuinely interested in what you offer, which translates to higher conversion rates.
  • Improved Confidence: When you clearly understand who you're talking to and what they're looking for, you won’t be stumbling over vague introductions or trying to figure out if you're talking to the right person.
  • Time-Saver: Qualifying questions let you filter out unqualified prospects, allowing you to focus your energy on those who have the potential to become valuable customers.

Now let’s get to the meat and potatoes and look at some questions!

Cold Call Qualification Questions to Assess Interest

One of the critical aspects of a successful sales cold call is identifying whether a prospect is genuinely interested in or in need of your product or service. After all, there's no point in pitching to someone who has no use for what you're offering.

(Yep, no matter what the “Turn the NO into a YES!!!” guys on LinkedIn say.)

Here’s an example from Tony Uketui, AKA: the Confident Salesman:

It’s all about finding out how your product/service can work for them to reach their goals or solve their problems.

Here are a few other questions you can ask:

  1. Can you share with me the biggest challenge you're currently facing in your business?
  2. How have you been dealing with [specific pain point] so far?
  3. What made you consider exploring new options now?
  4. Are you in a position where our product/service would provide significant value to your organization?
  5. Can you envision how [product/service] would fit into your existing processes or workflows?
  6. What specific goals or outcomes are you hoping to achieve for your business in the next [timeframe]?
  7. How would implementing [product/service] align with your long-term business goals or strategy?
  8. What prompted you to take action now rather than later? Is there a sense of urgency or a specific event driving your interest?
  9. Have you tried any alternative solutions in the past to address the challenges you're currently facing?
  10. Can you tell me more about your experience with previous solutions? What worked, and what fell short?
  11. Have you been actively researching other solutions in the market, or did you find us and decide to reach out?
  12. How would your day-to-day operations improve if you had our product/service at your disposal?
  13. Have you tried any other solutions in the past to address this problem?
40+ Best Cold Call Qualifying Questions to Turn the Tide

Authority Qualification: Do They Have the Authority to Make Decisions?

You don’t want to get stuck in a conversation with someone who lacks the authority to make purchasing decisions. It wastes your time and theirs.

Now, this is a bit of a tricky one, so in addition to sharing my advice, I also popped over to Reddit to see what other frontline warriors had to say:

You can also use these questions to get to the decision-makers quicker:

  1. Are you able to sign off on this type of purchase independently?
  2. Who else would need to be convinced before moving forward?
  3. How does your company handle its decision-making process?
  4. What exactly is your role at the company?
  5. Have you been authorized to explore potential solutions or vendors?
  6. Are you the point of contact for this type of decision within your organization?
  7. Is there a specific process for acquiring new products/services?
  8. Who would need to be involved in reviewing proposals or contracts?
  9. Who else is calling the shots on this decision? Should I rope them in?

Can They Afford It?

After determining if they’re a good fit AND if they’re the right person to be talking to, now it’s time to figure out if they actually have the budget for it.

Asking these questions has two purposes. First, can they afford it? Second, do they value it?

Here are some cold call qualifying questions you ask to determine if they have the budget or not:

  1. Do you have a budget allocated for [product/service]?
  2. How much are you currently spending on [related product/service]?
  3. Do you have any financial constraints that may affect your ability to invest in [product/service]?
  4. Are there any budgetary constraints we should be aware of?
  5. How do you typically measure the success of an investment like [product/service]?
  6. Let's cut to the chase: Can you comfortably afford what we're bringing to the table?
  7. Are you currently considering other investments or initiatives that may impact your budget for [product/service]?
  8. What would be a good payment schedule for you?
  9. Can you provide details on any expected cost savings or revenue generation opportunities that [product/service] could provide?
  10. How do you typically handle unexpected budget fluctuations?
  11. In the past, how much did your company spend on similar products/services?
  12. Are you open to exploring alternative payment structures, such as a subscription model or phased implementation, to accommodate your budget?

Is This the Right Time?

Now it’s time to figure out if we’re close to a sale so we can decide who to prioritize. That’s where asking high-value questions comes into play:

  1. How urgently do you need a solution like [product/service] in place?
  2. What is the timeline for your decision-making process?
  3. Do you have any other ongoing projects or initiatives that might compete for resources and affect the timeline?
  4. When are you looking to implement [product/service]?
  5. Can you share any past experiences or examples of similar projects to help us understand realistic timelines?
  6. Are there any important events coming up that might affect the timeline for [product/service]?
  7. Are there any potential roadblocks or challenges that might cause delays in the implementation of [product/service]?
  8. Are there any specific dates or time frames that you need to have [product/service] fully operational or integrated?
  9. Have you already started evaluating other solutions or vendors? If so, what is their timeline?
  10. How much do you spend on [solution] per quarter?
  11. Have you set any specific deadlines or milestones for implementing [product/service]?

At this stage, you can really use frameworks like the Sandler pain funnel to exacerbate the need for your solution, especially if the previous qualification criteria are met.

Top 3 Cold Call Qualifying Questions to Ask

Alright, I’ve given you plenty of examples of different questions you can ask to qualify leads at different points. But I’m often asked, “What are the top 3 questions you would ask to qualify a customer during a sales call?”

Well, here are my favorites, plus an explanation of why they work:

  1. So, tell me, what led you to explore [product/service]? What specific challenges or goals are you hoping to address with it?

I use this question to better understand the customer's motivations and pain points. First, it lets me know if my product will solve their problem or get them to their goals. Second, it allows me to perfectly personalize my pitch to them.

You don’t need to immediately start trying to sell them. Use this opportunity to get insights into them and their company.

Then later down the road, when I have a full grasp on their needs and challenges, I can make them an offer they can’t refuse.

  1. I'm curious, have you had any previous experience with similar solutions? If so, what worked well for you, and what didn't?

I like this one because it invites the customer to share their past experiences, giving you valuable insights into their preferences, expectations, and potential obstacles.

You can also learn if they’re using your competitor and if they understand the value of what you have to offer.

Remember, our goal here is to get as much information as we can on the lead so we tailor our pitch directly for them. If you need help guiding your approach, you can always rely on data enrichment tools.

  1. Before we dive deeper, I'd love to know what factors are most important to you when choosing a [product/service] provider. Is it pricing, customer support, ease of use, or something else entirely?"

Finally, this question lets the customer express their priorities, giving you a clearer understanding of what they value most and how you can position your offering accordingly.

It also gives a chance to anticipate any objections that might come up later on in the call.

Of course, you might need to adapt these questions to your industry and the person you’re talking to. But feel free to take them and make them your own!

Best Practices for Cold Call Qualifying

It’s not rocket science, but to help you get the most out of your cold call qualifying efforts, follow these tips:

  • Keep a Positive Tone & Attitude: Stay upbeat and friendly throughout the call. A positive vibe can instantly put the prospect at ease and make them more receptive to your conversation.
  • Ask Open-Ended Questions: Get the prospect talking by asking questions that can't be answered with a simple "yes" or "no." This encourages them to share more about their needs and gives you valuable insights.
  • Build Rapport: Connect on a personal level by finding common ground or mentioning something you both can relate to. It helps to establish trust and makes the conversation more comfortable.
  • Focus on Them, Not Your Product: Remember, it's about them, not you. Listen actively, show genuine interest, and let them know you're there to understand their specific challenges and goals.
  • Be Polite & Thank Them: Good manners go a long way. Say "please" and "thank you" to show respect and gratitude for their time. It leaves a positive impression and sets the stage for a productive relationship.
  • Don't Be Afraid to Be Yourself: Be authentic and let your personality shine. People appreciate talking to real human beings, so don't be afraid to inject some of your natural charm and humor into the conversation.

Don't Let Qualified Leads Slip Away!

And there you go! 40+ qualifying questions and tips to help you get the most out of this tactic.

By effectively qualifying customers, you can quickly prioritize those on your lead list that will get you a deal and X out those that would be a waste of time – that way, your sales pipeline will be like a well-oiled machine.

Now get out there and start getting those high-quality leads by asking the right questions upfront.

Good luck!