I switched gyms recently.

It was nothing to do with results. I was sweating loads. It was nothing to do with other users. They were perfectly reasonable. It was not even to do with the price. Although, it was how this was managed that led to a disagreement that quickly led to me finding an alternative and starting over.

The person I was dealing with, the business owner in this case, presented me with a hefty opening offer at which I balked. Rather than dealing with my queries about the necessity of this offer, compared with a more modest, less comprehensive arrangement (which I said was what I wanted), he chose to kick it down the road with the idea that we would see what we can work out. To a new customer, that sounded like the promise of discussion in the future.

A month later, when I engaged with him again, any implied offer to discuss my preference was declined, leaving me with a choice to pay up more than I had told him I was prepared to, or leave. I went for option B.

I was left feeling like I was responsible for this. He told me the price. I accepted. Not a great way to go out. On reflection however, I took the view that I should have not been offered this option in the first place. It was not in my budget, and I explained this. The result was inevitable, and time, money and reputation have all been wasted on a solution which may have been value for money, but was not within my budget.

It was not a good customer experience.

It is the role of the service provider or their representative to help the prospective customer understand if they are in fact in the right place. It is good practice. Not just to be nice and lovely, but also to ensure time and money are not wasted in wandering down a pathway that will ultimately end prematurely or badly. As an employee, you owe it to your employer. As a business owner, you just don’t have the time.

Qualification is the word that sales coaches use to describe this process. By continually asking questions, right through until the deal is down and beyond, both parties can be reassured. And very often, it is that reassurance that a prospect is buying. In a process where you are establishing trust in the moment, it has often been afforded to you by the reputation you have established or that is perceived to have been established. In order to be effective, that trust needs to be maintained long past the ink drying on the agreement.

Furthermore, by qualifying your prospect thoroughly, you will be able to determine if they are being genuine with you. Great teams talk about culture and some adopt the mandate, “No D**kheads” – unfortunately, it is difficult to prevent them from approaching your business. By qualifying constantly throughout your process, you can determine not only if you are right for them, but also if they are right for you. This requires bravery, patience and, most likely, a healthy dose of tact. If you don’t do this, it will cost you time, reputation and possibly money, especially if you get into “I demand a refund” territory.

Typically, there are multiple potential solutions to the problems and challenges people face in the world. Just because yours might be suitable, does not ensure that it will. Save yourself some time. Save yourself some money. Save yourself a headache. Take reasonable steps to ensure your solution is right and that your prospect enters the arrangement with clarity. It also helps serve as a D**khead Detector.