High-producing agents know that the key to success is having a steady stream of highly qualified prospects to convert into clients who are interested in working together to secure a sound financial future for themselves and their loved ones.
But how do you tell a good prospect from a “poor” prospect? What are the characteristics to look out for as you build your prospect pipeline?
Some of the answers to these questions can be found in the book titled Unlimited Sales Success by Brian Tracy and Michael Tracy. The book lays out the fundamentals of successful selling in today’s complex sales arena and identifies some of the best practices of top performers.
In the chapter titled “Power Prospecting,” the authors share what they believe are characteristics possessed by all good prospects.
 A good prospect is someone with a problem your product or service can solve efficiently and cost-effectively. Once you are clear about the problem your product or service can solve, you then should identify those customers who are the most likely to have those problems. For example, a question that salespeople often ask their business-to-business prospects is “What problems in your business keep you up at night?”
 A good prospect has a need that your product or service can satisfy. What need would your prospects have that would make them the ideal customers to buy your product or service as soon as possible? Prospects usually have three types of needs, the authors note:
1. The need may be obvious. In this case, you should ascertain how you can best satisfy this need.
2. The need may be unclear. You need to work with the prospect to clarify the need.
3. The need may be nonexistent. As an honest professional, you can tell the prospects that what they are currently using is appropriate for them at the moment.
 A good prospect has a goal that your product or service can help them achieve. The primary buying motivation for all products and services is some improvement for the purchaser. When a prospect has a specific desire to improve their life in some fashion and your product can help them achieve this goal, it is likely that they can be a good prospect for you.
 A good prospect has a pain or concern that your product or service can take away.
 A good prospect has the power and authority to make the buying decision for your product or service. If the prospect recognizes the fact that they have a problem, a need or a pain, but have no authority to make a buying decision and you cannot get to the person with the authority to do so, the sales process usually will come to a halt.
 A good prospect likes you and your company, as well as your product. People are primarily emotional in their decision-making, and almost all emotions revolve around how one person feels about the other.
 A good prospect can become a multiple purchaser if they are satisfied. It is not a good use of your time and energy to spend a lot of effort on making a single small sale. The types of prospects you want to seek out and work hard to acquire are those who have the capacity to buy large quantities of your product or service if they are happy with their first sales experience with you.
 A good prospect is a center of influence — someone who can open doors for you to reach other prospects. Sometimes a single sale to a highly respected customer can open the door to other individuals or corporations that respect that customer.
 A good prospect is easy to sell to and service. The best prospect is a potential customer in the office next to yours and on the same floor. At least that customer is located nearby and is easy to get to.
The authors add that one of your main goals as a top salesperson is to maintain high levels of positive energy. To do so, you must reduce the amount of time you spend face-to-face with negative people. When you recognize the fact that you are in the presence of a negative person or a poor prospect, end the meeting quickly and wish the person well. You then move on to the next person, who might be more positive and receptive to what you are offering.
Ayo Mseka is editor of NAIFA’s Advisor Today magazine. Ayo may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.