“Simon and Schuster runs a sales contest every year. The winners get to keep their jobs.” – Jack O’Leary

What’s the number one mistake that causes entrepreneurs, executives, salespeople, and marketing professionals to spin their wheels, waste their time chasing after people who don’t want to buy, and experience enormous frustration when following up on leads?

It’s the failure to first determine whether the person making the inquiry is a genuine, qualified prospect.

But, how can you quickly, easily, and accurately determine whether an inquiry is coming from a qualified prospect? By using my “MAD FU formula.”

The MAD FU formula has nothing to do with anger (or any other emotion) or the four-letter “F” word. Rather, MAD FU stands for the five qualities that differentiate a qualified prospect from a time-waster or tire-kicker: Money, Authority, Desire, Fit, and Urgency.

MAD FU says that to qualify a lead, you have to ask them a series of questions to determine (1) if they have the Money to afford what you are selling, (2) if they have the Authority to buy it, (3) if they have a strong Desire to own it, (4) if they are a good Fit for your business, and (5) if they have a sense of Urgency.

Let’s look at how to do this quickly.

First, Money: Can the prospect afford what you are selling?

The easiest way to determine this is to ask, “Do you have a budget for this?”

Without a budget, how can he possibly buy your product or service?

If he says he does have a budget, ask, “Would you mind sharing with me what your budget is?”

His answer tells you whether or not he can afford you.

Second, Authority: Can the person you are talking to write a check or purchase order?

You can determine this by asking, “Who else in your organization is responsible for making this purchase decision?”

Third, Desire. How intense is the prospect’s desire to own your product or get your service?

You can gauge his desire through the content of your conversation with him as well as through his tone and body language.

The best prospects give you clear indications that they have a burning desire to own your product or have you solve their problem.

Fourth, Fit. How good a fit is this prospect for what you’re selling?

Is there good personal chemistry between you and the prospect? Does your product or service best meet his needs … or, in truth, would he be better off using another vendor?

Fifth, Urgency. What is the prospect’s timeframe for taking possession of this product or having this service performed?

If he’s in a big hurry, it will be easier to close the deal. But if the prospect has no sense of urgency, you may spin your wheels for months – even years – chasing after him.

The lesson? When the phone rings with a call from a potential customer, don’t get too excited.

First, qualify the lead with MAD FU. Does the prospect have the Money, Authority, and Desire to buy? Is he a good Fit for what you’re selling? Is his need Urgent and immediate?

The more “yes” answers you get to the MAD FU questions, the better your chances of making the sale.

[Ed. Note: Bob Bly is the editor of ETR’s Direct Marketing Masters Edition, a program to help you start your own successful direct-mail business. Sign up for Bob’s e-zine, The Direct Response Letter.]

Bob Bly

Bob Bly is an independent copywriter and consultant specializing in business-to-business and direct marketing. He has been hired as a consultant by such companies as Sony, Chemical Bank, J. Walter Thompson, Westinghouse, and Prentice-Hall. Bob is also the author of more than 50 books including The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Direct Marketing (Alpha Books), Targeted Public Relations, Selling Your Services, How to Promote Your Own Business, and Keeping Clients Satisfied. A phenomenal public speaker, Bob will share with you how easy it is to start your own business. Whether you’re ready to quit your job or are just looking to make a little money on the side, you’ll want to hear Bob’s advice.