Down with the Evil Checklist

  • Can you tell me what you’re looking to solve?
  • How soon are you trying to have something in place?
  • Have you ever bought anything like this before?
  • What tools are you using right now?
  • How much are you expecting to spend?
  • Are you the decision maker?
  • What are your expected volumes or users?

If you’ve ever been in sales, or had a salesperson reach out to you, you have likely met the evil checklist before.

The evil checklist does not care whatsoever about you. The evil checklist does not care about the salesperson. The evil checklist must be answered before you get any of the information that you wanted to receive. The evil checklist….is evil.

One of the biggest issues that young or inexperienced (or downright bad) salespeople have is the inability to ask questions effectively. They turn qualification (which should be the moment they’re working alongside you to identify whether or not their solution will be suitable for you) into an interrogation.

I don’t blame the salespeople, they are trying to fill out the requisite CRM fields their sales leader holds so dearly. It’s as if these data points are the one ring to rule them all and they are Gollum.

This is the most critical moment in any sales conversation, often the first call or meeting, when we make the critical decision of ‘is this person for me or are they for themselves?’ and sub-consciously offer up a determination of whether to trust or not. Personally, I’d never trust the evil checklist.

So what is it we can teach our young sales people, or experienced sales people with bad technique? We can teach them to how to have good conversations, and inside of good conversations are good questions, good responses, good stories, and good understanding.

Consider how you’re approaching your qualification calls, or your team is handling their qualification calls and ask yourself these questions

Do you ask qualification questions as they’re written above, or are you customizing the questions to the conversation?

Do you receive a response to your question and then move on to the next question without acknowledging the response?

If it meant having a great conversation instead of an ok one, are you willing to forgo receiving the answer to one or more of your qualification questions until the next time you speak with your prospect?

Record a call and listen back. Are you interrogating, or are you having a good conversation?

The two things I try to coach my sales team members on when it comes to effective qualification are these.

Set up your question with a relatable story or fact, or be honest in why you’re asking the question and never ask another question without first acknowledging and responding to the last response.

It’s the second part that is missed so often. The salesperson will ask a great question, they’ll receive a response, and without even saying ‘wow, that’s really interesting’, they’ll just move onto the next. Evil checklist.

Put the evil checklist down. Have a good conversation with your prospects, listen to what they’re saying to you instead of nervously waiting for your chance to get back on your script, and take the time to show that you really do care about their business. You’ll change the way your prospects feel about speaking with you, you’ll change the way you feel about your job, and you’ll change your results.

Down with the evil checklist.