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How to identify a “hot” prospect

What do we actually mean by a hot prospect or, as we often call them, “warm” leads?

In his great book Rain Making, Ford Harding defines a lead as the opportunity to talk to a prospect face-to-face about a need that he has acknowledged . Great definition.

It also identifies one of the big mistakes we all make not qualifying the lead. In his definition, it clearly states that you have the opportunity to talk to the prospect face-to-face. How many of us define a lead when someone somewhere intimates that they have need of our services?

In this scenario, very often, our prospect:

  • May not realise they need our services
  • May not be ready to buy
  • May realise they need our services but also know they can’t afford them
  • May be all or part of the way down the process of buying from one of our competitors
  • May not be able to buy from us due to a real or perceived conflict of interest

or an intermediary has told us that someone needs our services, and we expect them to call.

If any of these conditions exist, then sadly you don’t have a “hot-to-trot” prospect. Either you need to invest some more time in the relationship to get them in a position to “have the opportunity to talk to the prospect face-to-face”, or, when the prospect can’t buy your services (for whatever reason) don’t waste time trying to progress the sale.

Let’s go back to Ford Harding’s definition of a lead again. I’d like to add a little bit more to it to help us identify a hot prospect. 

In my view, a hot prospect:

  1. Actually asks for the meeting with you
  2. Has budget available to spend with you
  3. Is suffering enough “pain” to want to commit to a course of action
  4. Has come to you based on another person’s strong recommendation
  5. It’s the type of work or client which you would give your right arm to work with

What helps you to identify a hot prospect?

Heather Townsend, Britain’s queen of networking, helps professionals achieve business and career success using social media and networking. Follow her Joined Up Networking blog for more useful tips and tricks. She is the author of the current best-selling book on networking The Financial Times Guide To Business Networking which has 68 five-star reviews on Amazon.


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