Today’s post is by guest blogger, Deborah Shane of Train with Shane.  Deborah is an empowerment expert who specializes in career transitioning for women and provides sales, marketing and branding consulting.  She can be heard on her weekly on Blog Talk Radio. Take it away, Deborah!

Yea, you made a warm contact, connection and received some promising referrals!

What comes next?
QUALIFYING: figuring out which ones are the best opportunities and which have the best potential to be developed and ultimately turned into a long term mutual business partner!

These days that’s not as easy as it sounds. Companies and people used to be easier to read and qualify. Now image and brand can hide their truth. The outside is no longer the best criteria for a solid, quality prospect, but it still is what can draw our attention to them.

They are..
In the News
In the Community
Steady Sales
Been around a while
Nice website
On/in social

BUT, look at Toyota, Enron, Exxon, Merrill, Madoff, Goldman. It was not as it seemed, and it took a long time to explode and implode publicly. In most of these cases, it was going “bad” for a long time.

How important is it to qualify? VERY.
If you are going to invest time, energy, resources, man power then finding out if the potential and opportunity is worth it is an essential component for a strong, long term mutual relationship. Those are what we want right?

Here are 5 criteria to use that have worked great for me.

1) “Six Month Rule”-get some referrals from people who have interacted and done biz with them for about six months. That is a good time line to know the consistency factor.

2) “Get Personal”-Make time to really get to know someone both inside and outside of business. Getting to know “who they really are” on different fronts of their lives tells you a lot about their values and attitudes.

3) “Are they Giving Back”-do they give back to the community and market they live and do business in?

4) ” Staying Power”-have they demonstrated that they can persevere and innovate in all business cycles? what is their “custom-er serve” philosophy? Is that consistent no matter what the conditions?

5) “Walk their talk”-So many people we meet today “sound” great and say the right things, but do they follow through and do what they say?

After you have applied some of these criteria to help you assess and measure opportunity and potential, here is a great Qualifying Guide from Use it, it works!

What criteria do you use to qualify opportunity and potential?

Deborah Shane
Train with Shane