Guide to lead qualification

Your Guide to Lead Qualification: How To Get the Most Out of Your Leads

Running a successful business requires that you find individuals who need your product or service and convince them that your solution is well worth the cost. 

Blanket, cross-platform advertising might seem like an effective option to reach prospective customers, but the reality is that you’ll spend a lot of your budget reaching only a small percentage of potential clients. 

A far more effective method is to identify your target market and launch campaigns that reach them specifically. Marketing only to an audience that is more likely to be interested in your product or service costs less money and will result in a higher return on investment.

Lead Qualification and Why It’s Important

Simply put, lead qualification is when your marketing team determines whether potential leads are interested in your product or service and are also able and ready to buy it. Lead qualification isn’t only important for your advertising department’s bottom line but for your business as a whole.

Imagine you’ve gathered a list of 1,000 people to contact about your product. If you or your sales team begins to work through the list and doesn’t see any success, it will eventually feel as if time is being wasted. Ultimately, you’ll feel less motivated.

The Fundamentals of Lead Qualification

Broadly speaking, three stages make up the lead qualification process: marketing qualified leads, sales accepted leads, and sales qualified leads. Potential clients are only considered fully qualified leads if they pass all three checkpoints.

First, find marketing qualified leads. MQLs are leads that have already been assessed by your marketing team (or automated solution). The team creates ads or website content to gain the interest of potential leads, often in the form of free offers or gated downloadables. These offers could be anything from free downloadable e-books or printouts to free trials for ongoing services. As soon as potential clients opt in to a free offer, they are considered marketing qualified leads as they have demonstrated a certain level of interest in the solution provided.

Next, the clients must become sales accepted leads. After the marketing team has done its part, the sales team gets to work. A member of the team contacts the people who took advantage of marketing offers to ask additional questions. These in-depth questions help to determine the potential clients’ “sellability.”

Sometimes, leads are disqualified and marked as ‘bad’. Other times, the sales team opts to move them back to the marketing qualified stage. However, potential customers who have the right answers for the qualifying questions become sales qualified leads.

Sales qualified leads are at the third and final step of the process. At this point, the sales team will determine whether potential clients have the budget, authority, need, and timing necessary to purchase. This is known as a BANT analysis. The process includes determining whether potential clients have enough financing for the product or service, whether they have an urgent need that needs to be addressed, and if they know the time frame in which they hope to find a solution.

Finally, the sales team must ensure they’re speaking to the decision-maker for the business. When potential clients pass all parts of the BANT analysis, they become a qualified lead and the deal progressed by your company’s sales representatives.

Tailoring the Qualifying Questions to Your Company

The fundamentals of qualifying leads are an excellent starting point, but to make the BANT framework work for your business, you’ll need to dig deeper to determine which questions to ask. First, ask about the clients’ goals and plans for their businesses. Think both short-term and long-term. Where do the clients want to be in three months, in a year, and in five years? Which goal is most important to them right now? Do they already have plans in place to achieve them? Have they ever achieved similar goals and, if so, what plans did they use?

Next, talk to potential clients more in depth about challenges they feel they face and the timeline they have to fix the issues. This is where your sales skills come into play. Once you find out what challenges potential leads are facing, reiterate how important it is for them to fix the problem and how you can help.

Ask potential clients whether they have plans in place to overcome the challenge and why they believe they can fix the issue on their own. Find out when they want to put their plan into motion and how long they want it to take. From there, pitch a way that you can help them overcome their challenge with a better plan that takes less time. After all, time is money, and who doesn’t want to save a little of both?

Of course, budgets are important as well. If you spend your time pitching to individuals or businesses who can’t afford your product or service, you’re spending too much of your own time and money. Asking qualifying questions regarding potential clients’ budgets is necessary to protect your own budget.

Many companies simply ask “What is your current budget?” However, there are more tactful ways to bring up money, and some of them may be better received. Ask leads whether they see the potential return on their own investment if they purchase your product or service and whether they are already spending money on a similar service or product that doesn’t quite meet their needs.

Finally, consider where your leads stand in their company’s chain of command. While it isn’t necessary to speak to the person in charge of the company’s budget, it is important to speak to someone who has influence with the decision-makers. You may also ask your leads whether they feel the decision-maker would have any objections and how you can address them before the fact.

Lead qualification services

Attracting the right clients is essential for a thriving business, but it can also be time consuming if you are a solopreneur or a small business owner. Lead capture services can be an excellent solution. Trained professionals are available to answer calls, ask qualifying questions, and pass on strong leads to your sales team. 

Contact HelloSells to start capturing and qualify your leads today.