When should you qualify your prospects? Right now. The earlier you qualify potential prospects the better. I know, I know, this is hard. Yes it is. But this is why you are getting paid. Here are my favorite qualification questions:
Does this initiative have an established budget?
Is that budget taking away from other projects you are responsible for?
How has this initiative been funded?
What visibility does this have with leadership?
How will this decision be made?
What risks do you see for this project?
What could happen to derail this effort?
What issues are driving your decision?
How does the contracting process work?
My advice to you is to put these on a checklist and make sure you ASK THEM ALL, even if some of them sound redundant. You never know…sometimes prospects just aren’t ready to answer the tough questions. But if you don’t revisit the same questions, you will get burned. And, if your prospect qualifies himself out, move on. You will thank yourself.