Qualifying Questions to Ask Potential Clients

As a marketing agency owner, you need to make sure you ask the right qualifying questions when choosing clients to work with.

At first glance, every new lead may look like an opportunity. But finding the right prospects is just as important as closing them. Clients should be a good fit for your firm on many levels. Else, all your efforts in promoting your local marketing agency may go to waste.

This is especially true when you are offering marketing services to local businesses. You should not only help them generate revenue but also provide long-term value by growing with you and representing you well in the community.

But first, you need to make sure they are a right fit. And this can be assessed by asking them the right qualifying questions. This a key step in client prospecting.

This article provides you with a list of these questions which you can include in your sales calls, client onboarding questionnaire, application form etc.

Broadly, these questions can fall into three categories; questions about their:

  • current state,
  • experience with marketing, and
  • expected future state.

Let’s look at each of them in more detail:

Current state

These are questions relating to their current state of business. These questions will help you assess how well they are doing right now, identify what problems they are facing, and what they need most help with.

It will also help you understand if the problems they are facing can actually be solved with your service offering.

Qualifying questions on current state
Qualifying questions on current state

Below are some questions you could ask to learn more about their business and the problems they are facing.

What is your target market and what services do you offer?

This is a great question to begin with as it helps you understand if the target market they serve is aligned to the solutions you have on offer. Also, it will give you more information on the types of services they offer which you can use to assess if it belongs to the niche you want to target.

For example, if your marketing agency focuses on offering marketing services to fitness trainers, the services the clients offer should be closely aligned to it, such as cross fit training, nutritionists, dieticians etc.

What are your biggest pain points?

This questions ensures you know exactly what your prospect is struggling with before suggesting a solution.

The objective here is to make them feel comfortable to share the problems they are facing while simultaneously helping you identify if you can help them or not.

You could also use these responses to analyze if there are any common pain points faced by your target market. This information can help you tweak your service offering and adapt accordingly.

After all, the more you learn, the better you can assist!

How long have you been in business?

This will give you an indication on how well established and experienced the business is. It will provide more insight on how serious the client is about marketing its local services and accordingly see more value in what you have to offer.

You could follow up to gather more information on how they overcame challenges in the past, their employee count, certifications/accreditations obtained etc.

The responses will help you easily build a case for social proof and make it easier for you to further elevant your marketing services.

Are you happy with the current key metrics that are being measured?

This is a great question as it allows you to illustrate the problem at hand and thereby suggest solutions in a more effective manner. 

Some clients may not be tracking their results, which is fine. You can communicate its importance and provide suggestions accordingly.

If they are measuring key metrics, this question will help you explore deeper into the problem and easily make suggestions on how you can improve them.

Some examples of these metrics include cost per lead, cost per acquisition, conversion rate, annual revenue growth, revenue per employee etc.

What locations do you currently serve?

By asking the locations the local business serves, you can learn if the business serves a single or multiple locations. Your service offering can differ accordingly.

Also, it will help you understand if the locations they serve are within the areas that are still available. 

For instance, if you are offering local marketing services to fitness trainers, you wouldn’t want to organically rank two different fitness trainers within the same location. So, it’s important for you to learn the geographical areas they want to target.

What are your most profitable and least profitable services?

Getting an understanding of this can be helpful when strategizing the organic and paid search campaigns. From identifying the website structure, laying out the content, creating landing pages and to targeting profitable keywords, all of this will depend on the response you receive here.

If the services they want you to target are within the scope of your service offering, you can use this information to onboard the client.

Experience with marketing

Having understood their business model, you need to know what has worked for them in terms of marketing. This set of qualifying questions will help you assess what their stance on marketing is, if they are willing to explore different strategies etc.

Qualifying questions on experience with marketing
Qualifying questions on experience with marketing

Here are some questions you can ask to learn more about their experience with marketing.

Do you have a team to manage inbound leads?

It’s one thing to generate the leads, but does the business manage the inbound leads efficiently? One of the biggest problems most local businesses face is to manage the leads that are generated through marketing.

It’s important to understand what the business is doing about converting leads into paying customers. By asking them this question, you’ll learn if they are serious about improving their conversion rates or not.

If they don’t have a dedicated team/individual to manage leads, they are likely not going to appreciate the full value of your service offering.

Have you tried any marketing campaigns previously? How has your experience been?

This should give you a better understanding on what their stance on marketing is. If they’ve had a bad experience, it will be up to you to explain to them why it may have gone wrong and how you can help them correct it.

It will also help you easily give a comparison of what has been done and how you are going to do it differently to achieve the desired results.

How confident do you feel about local marketing?

This is tied to the previous question in that if the business owner had a bad experience with local marketing, they are likely to feel less confident about it.

Nevertheless, you need to know what their current position on it is which will help you frame a response accordingly. If the client is showing some degree of confidence, that’s a good sign as they’ll be open to explore what your service offering is about.

Future state

This section lists a series of questions that you could prospects on their business goals and objectives. This will help you assess if their future state aligns with what you can do to help them achieve the same. It also gives the prospects a reassurance that you are determined to help meet their business goals.

Qualifying questions on future state
Qualifying questions on future state

Below are some qualifying questions that you could ask to learn more about their future state.

What are your business goals for the next 1 – 2 years?

This question is important as it will help you set and manage expectations with the prospect. If the goals seem too unrealistic, you can bring this up during a conversation.

On the flipside, knowing what these goals are can help you evaluate if the service you are offering to the client will help them achieve this goal or not.

Is there anything holding you back from achieving these goals?

There are many obstacles that a business owner could go through in trying to achieve their business goals. By identifying this, it will give you insight on what you can do to eliminate and overcome these problems through your service offering.

This way, you’ll fully understand their pain points, and allow you to provide solutions that directly address the prospects’ objections in achieving these goals.

Afterall, if they are on track to meeting their business goals, you may not have much to offer them.

Where do you see the biggest opportunities for growth?

The purpose of this question is to ask open-ended questions that prompt the customer to share their pain, frustrations, and current challenges with you.

Not only will this give you a better insight on how you can help them capitalize on these opportunities through local marketing, but it will position yourself as someone willing to work with them to leverage on this growth trajectory.

What are the priorities for your business/team this quarter?

The objective here is to understand what the prospects are currently focused on for the next few months. This will help you pitch your services in a manner that benefits them.

For instance, if they say that their priority is in generating more leads and improving their presence online, you can share more details about your service offering. However, if their focus is on downsizing their staff due to high overheads, it may not be the best time to approach them with your offering.

Asking the right qualifying questions

We’ve gone through a list of potential qualifying questions that you could ask your prospects to identify if they are the right fit or not.

It was categorized based on understanding what their current position is, their experience with marketing and their expected future state.

This round of questioning should provide the prospects an assurance that you understand what they are going through and how your service offering can help them overcome it.

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