This is the second in a four-part series on the importance of managing your business with the long-term perspective in mind. Too many business owners take a short term approach to their business and as a result never achieve the growth they desire. In this article, we will discuss the importance of long-term thinking while converting sales leads. 

Generating leads is critical to growing your business. Without new leads, your business can’t grow. This is why most business owners focus significant amounts of their own time and energy on lead generation.

But there’s a mistake that many of the business owners I have known over the years make: They are so eager to generate new leads that they don’t bother to check whether the leads they generate are qualified prospects. A qualified prospect is an individual or a business that is both interested in purchasing your products / services and has the ability to do so.

Most of us would be interested in purchasing a Ferrari. Not all of us are in position financially to do so. It wouldn’t make sense for Ferrari to spend time and money marketing to those that can’t afford their product, no matter how much they’d like it.

Being both interested and able to afford your products aren’t the only qualifications a prospect should have, however.

A qualified prospect must have the ability to make a decision to purchase. Spending time to wine and dine a VP of a company you are targeting won’t matter if the CEO is going to make a decision without soliciting his/her input.

A qualified prospect must stand to benefit from your product. Trying to talk a prospect who has no interest in what you’re selling into buying your product is rarely a good use of your time. There are plenty of potential customers out there who need what you are offering,find them and explain to them how your products and services can meet the need that they have.

And a qualified prospect must have the time to engage in the buying process. Whether that means a physical trip to your store or a 20 minute sales call, if a prospect doesn’t have the time to go through the process, you’re wasting your time, and you’re only going to irritate them.

How can you ensure that the leads you generate are qualified? You can start by making a list of the qualifications you’re looking for and then by creating a profile of your typical qualified lead. You’ll likely find that your best prospects fit into a certain profile and often share the same gender, income level, affiliations, occupation, and so forth.

Once you’ve created this profile, you can focus on marketing to these people. That way, when you do get a phone call, you’ve got the best chance possible of actually converting the sale and you won’t waste money marketing to prospects who are unlikely to write you a check.