To understand the topic we’re covering today, let's talk about what an SQL is. SQL stands for Sales Qualified Lead, which is a contact which has the ability to be sold to and is possibly interested in purchasing your product.On the other hand, a marketing qualified lead or MQL is a lead that is either accessing some of your marketing materials or checking out your content but hasn’t taken the next step in displaying interest.
So we want to take those MQL’s and turn them into sales qualified leads. Let’s learn how to explore opportunities with cabinet SQLs.
This phase of the selling funnel is when you want to turn the heat up a little bit and try to move them more toward the decision portion of the funnel. So they’re still in the consideration phase and you are helping them move to the decision.
While we’re exploring the opportunities we are learning more about each other. Details about their company and how it interacts with our company are key here. But we’re still not asking too much out of them at this point. Basically, we are setting up a foundation to work from so that we can move them down the funnel which is more of the planning session.
In our funnel, when someone becomes a sales contact lead, we try to make contact with them on at least a weekly basis. By contact I mean any of the following: email, sending a new resource, a phone call, etc. Whatever method you need to use to keep reminding them that you are interested in their business is what you should be doing.
In my opinion most sales people neglect the follow up portion of selling. If they don’t receive the initial sale, they just begin to move on. But, I do realize that the SQL part is the hardest area of the funnel because you’re on the fence of a new customer going back up the funnel or further down the funnel. As a result we want to keep the pressure on to move them down the funnel toward a sale.
Here’s a few steps to make that easier:
The best way to create a routine is to follow a standard operating procedure. You should have a specific and well thought out way that you treat every SQL that comes in. This does not have to be a robotic method where you’re unable to be flexible, but you should have a checklist of what you want to obtain during the expiration phase.
Basically, you want to obtain information about their company, you want to see what kinds of work they do (and you can even do a site visit as a point of contact for this), and you want to learn as much about the customer as you can. At the same time you want to start inputting what your strengths are as a company. So highlight how your strong suits would partner with your customer in whatever they’re undertaking currently.
At first you were just asking for the opportunity to contact them again. But at this point you should continue the relationship by letting them know more about what your company does.
This is a great way to get a lead in a different mindset. Instead of them thinking of you as being a ‘vendor’ or ‘salesman’ and themselves as a ‘customer’ you can be ‘partners in growth.’ This makes the conversation much easier to have because it becomes one between two friends and isn’t dominated by the normal salesman awkwardness. You want to build a foundation where both of you are partners and there is no hierarchy where one is ‘better’ than the other. From there you can set up strategies to grow each others companies and feed each other business.
In this phase we want to focus on sending decision based content, focusing on specifics about how you can partner. Start talking to them about lead times and payment terms, expectations after the sale as well as how you do your sales. Explain your process and turn around times so that they know all of these things during the conversation and it’s not something that you have to go over again later. Doing this will also let you know how serious they are about becoming a customer.
Later, we will will move from exploration to planning, which is a small step but is a major part of closing the sale.
Jeff Finney is the founder of Ultimate Cabinet Components, based in Collinsville, Oklahoma; 918-371-7171. For more shop insights from Jeff, check out his articles at or listen to his podcasts at Jeff is also a 2018 40 Under 40 honoree. Download Jeff’s booklet, 5 Steps to Hiring Better Employees for Your Cabinet Shop at

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