The person who needs things and is a possible customer is known as ‘prospect’. A qualified prospect needs the characteristics, like (i) need to buy, (ii) ability to buy, (iii) authority to buy, (iv) eligibility to buy, and (v) accessibility.
Characteristics of a good prospect-
A good prospect needs the following characteristics:
(i) Need to buy
Before approaching prospect, the salesman should ascertain whether he (the prospect) has need to buy a certain product. The need of a person depends upon his income, responsibility and standard of living. A person may have authority to buy, but he may not need goods. For example, in a hostel the superintendent may have the authority to buy magazines and journals for the boarders, but at the same time he may not need it. Hence it will be of no effect if the salesman starts sales-talk with the superintendent.
(ii) Ability to pay
If wishes are horses’ beggars can ride them. Mere desire or want is not enough; it must be an effective want, backed by ability to pay, it is not possible to buy goods. Sometimes a person may have authority, need and ability to pay, but he may not desire to buy a particular commodity. For example, a professor, according to his status needs a car, but he being a miser may not desire to buy a car.
(iii) Authority to buy
Before approaching a prospect, the salesman must ensure whether the prospect has authority to buy a certain product. A person may have need of product and ability to pay; but if he does not possess the authority to purchase, he is not worthy a prospect. In Government offices and organizations only certain officers have the authority to buy, not all officers. In this case, the salesman should try to find out the persons who are authorized to buy in order to save time and energy.
(iv) Eligibility to buy
Buying a product is not a question of mere money or money’s worth for the product. The sale deals take place under legal relations. There are some products which are sold to permit or license holders, e.g. guns revolvers, explosive items, etc. in the absence of a valid license, a person is not eligible to buy these products, even if he may have a need, ability to pay and authority to buy the product. Therefore, a salesman of these items must verify the eligibility of the prospect to buy before approaching him.
It means whether a person can be contacted easily or not. There are certain prospects who live in distant places in villages. The salesman should ensure whether the prospect be approached with normal expenses or not. If he needs high expenditure or more wastage of time, then it is said that the prospects does not have accessibility. Thus, in a company higher level executives can not be contacted directly. Same is the case with the big businessmen and industrialists. In case the prospect is unapproachable, the salesman should also forego such products.
This is also an important qualification of a good prospect. A salesman is benefitted only when there are large numbers of prospects. He may have a small class of large buyers or large class of small buyers; or a combination of these two. But what is important is that, the salesman must gain enough from his sales efforts. In other words, a good prospect who is sure to purchase large enough to be profitable to the salesman.