Sales Expert Talks: Hugh Macfarlane’s Active Approach to Qualification

For seven weeks, PDAgroup explored the key elements of the B2B sales cycle from prospecting to deal closing. In the second week, Britta Lorenz invited Hugh Macfarlane to join the discussion about evaluating and qualifying leads.

Hugh Macfarlane proposes an active approach to qualification. While the classical approach consists of asking customers what their needs are and then showing them how a particular solution can meet those needs, Hugh suggests shaping the customer's needs to fit our solution. We do that by asking the right questions, digging deeper, and creating awareness for other issues that might also be occurring at the customer's company.

 Sales expert talk Hugh Macfarlane1

Asking the right questions will give us an idea of what the customer thinks. This information is essential if we want to convince the customer to buy our solution. But there are two more things that we need to know: what do we want them to think, and how do we get them there.

Common Mistakes in the Evaluation and Qualification Phase

There are several common mistakes that Hugh has observed at the stage of evaluating and qualifying:

  1. Not getting the right support: Sometimes, salespeople don't get the right support from the marketing department. Marketing should equip the salesperson to talk and convince the customer. It should speak to the customer through the salesperson.
  2. Ignoring time as a critical indicator for qualification: If we compare successful sales with leads that ended up not making a buying decision, we will probably discover that successful sales cycles are usually shorter. Considering this, if a prospect is taking rather long in the first stages of the sales process, that might be a sign that this prospect is not ready to make a buying decision.
  3. Qualifying too soon: Salespeople try to qualify early because they don't want to waste their time in a deal that is not going to go forward. Nevertheless, asking qualifying questions too early in the customer journey is like asking for romantic love before the first date. Instead, salespeople should look for signals and look at the data in order to find out if working on the deal is worth their time.

Rhythmic Marketing

The concept of rhythmic marketing is essential in Hugh's approach. He believes that, when talking to the customer, finding the right rhythm is critical. If we want a message to stick, we need to send it out on a regular basis. Repetition and the right cadence will eventually shape the opinion of the customer. How often we send out a message depends on the customer, the market, and our resources, but it is important to keep the rhythm going. A monthly blog and a weekly social media post are an excellent place to start.


About Hugh Macfarlane

Hugh Macfarlane was driven to start his business – – in service of his passion for empowering businesses to align their sales, marketing, and delivery to their buyers' process. Hugh has proven his belief in a buyer-centric approach by successfully leading hundreds of marketing growth projects and training thousands of B2B marketers in some 30 countries across the globe. He is a sought-after keynote speaker, a powerful facilitator, and a lover of craft beer. As an expert on all matters "funnel", Hugh has cemented himself as a thought leader in his field through the publication of his novel The Leaky Funnel and his concept of the 'buyer's journey'— a phrase that Hugh coined and is now widely used in the world of B2B marketing. If you wish to contact Hugh Macfarlane, visit his website and leave him a message.


We can help you take your B2B sales to the next level. Get in touch!

Britta Lorenz

Britta Lorenz

Talk to Britta Lorenz:

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A Rennweg 1, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria E  T +43 (0)512 56 09 70

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