PRIORITIES: After you're done building honest rapport with your prospect, you need to transition the call or meeting to understanding their priorities. This is a critical piece of information to know. I don't care what you're selling, if your solution does not align with their current priorities you've just become a nice to have or potential solution to a future set of priorities (that may never actually exist). Taking the time to understand your prospects priorities demonstrates maturity and professional business acumen. Remember, it's always about what is most important to your prospect. For example, if you're speaking with a sales manager who is looking for ways to motivate sales reps, and you happen to sell a gamification platform to create sales contests, you might have some alignment. However, if you're speaking with a VP of Marketing whose priorities involve redesigning a trade show booth, you may not want to mention that you're company provides inbound marketing software for lead generation. What I am getting at is, make sure your prospects priorities are a match for your offering. You'll get their attention and have a much easier time compiling a list for what comes next in the qualification process - their problems.
PROBLEMS: The Notorious B.I.G. once said, "more money more problems". For sales people, more problems means more money. When people have a list of priorities, especially in business, it usually stems from a set of problems their attempting to address. Often times priorities change due to a new set of problems to solve for. Does your prospects problems align with your solution? Have you gone from sales rep to problem solver? Prospects buy from problem solvers who help them tackle their list of priorities. If you are pitching an irrelevant solution, you're wasting their time and most importantly yours. Thank them for their time and move on. Fix problems that exist and don't bother creating problems that don't.
PAIN: Benjamin Frankly coined the phrase, "no pain no gain". In sales, if your prospect has no pain, you gain no sale - period. Pain in business causes anxiety, stress and urgency. Pain promotes motivation to find a cure. Ever have a headache? What is the fist thing you reach for? Aspirin or ibuprofen. What happens when your prospect has a business pain? You guessed it, they seek a remedy. Is your service or prodcut the remedy to their business pain? If so, you just bubbled yourself up on their list of people to talk to. The easiest way to find out if your prospect is in pain is to ask. Seriously. There is nothing wrong with asking a VP of Sales what keeps he or she up at night. There is nothing wrong with asking a CEO what the consequences are of missing their Q4 revenue target. It takes courage to ask these questions, but difficult questions result in concrete answers.
In summary, your prospects priorities stem from problems that are causing them pain. Can you help or not? If yes, you have a qualified sales opportunity. If not, move on.