A 4-Step Lead Qualification Guide to Power-Up Your Sales

24 Sep. 22

Lead generation forms the core of digital marketing. Brands spend a lot of effort and time crafting the right message, building campaigns, and eventually converting leads into paying customers.

No matter how well you organize your process, many potential clients won’t buy from you, no matter how good you do. You can’t convince them, and you’ll only waste your time and money trying.

This is where lead qualification comes into play.


What is Lead Qualification?


The process of qualifying leads is to assess and evaluate the quality of leads generated by a business to determine which ones are most likely to purchase.

You can generally qualify leads based on the following factors:

  • Suitability. How well their company matches the buyer personas.
  • Willingness. How interested leads are in the product and how eager they are to buy it.
  • Readiness. The lead is in their customer journey as well as the sales and marketing funnel.
  • Likeliness. Based on additional information, how likely the lead to purchase.
  • Ability. Is it possible for the lead to afford the product?

This information will allow the sales and marketing departments to decide whether or not the lead is worth following. They can also determine the best time and way to approach the lead.

Although lead qualification is typically done manually, some aspects, like lead scoring, can easily be automated to improve efficiency.


Why is Lead Qualification Important?


It is crucial to qualify leads because it can increase sales prospecting efficiency and lead nurturing and thus boost sales.

It can also benefit the marketing and sales teams.

Lead qualification is a marketing tool that provides information about the quality of leads entering the funnel. This information allows the team to focus their efforts on channels that offer higher-quality leads, and are more likely convert.

Lead qualification also contributes to productivity because it allows sales people to reach out to potential customers and not waste time.


The Lead Qualification Process


These steps will help you to qualify leads and give you a system for managing incoming leads.


1. Choose Your Lead Qualification Framework


You should establish a process and keep it consistent to ensure that all leads are evaluated using the same criteria. You might consider using one of the most widely accepted lead qualification frameworks, such as BANT, MEDDIC or CHAMP, ANUM and GPCTBA/C&I.

These acronyms are what they stand for:

  • BANT – Budget, Authority, Needs and Time
  • MEDDIC : Metrics. Economic buyer. Decision criteria. Decision process. Identify pain. Champion.
  • CHAMP – Challenges, Authority and Money. Prioritization.
  • ANUM is Authority, Need, Urgency and Money.
  • GPCTBA/C&I – Goals, Plans and Challenges, Timeline Budget Authority, Negative Consequences, and Positive Implications

You can see that the information each framework covers is almost identical. The only thing that makes them different is the way you prioritize the various factors that make up each lead.

You can find what works for you and adjust it to suit your needs. Then you can create a bulletproof workflow.


2. Create your Lead Qualification Checklist


No matter what framework you choose, you will need to make a checklist of lead qualifications.

This checklist is a set of questions that will help you determine the readiness of your leads.

  1. Determine the role of the lead. Which role does the lead play in the organization? Are they a decision-maker or a gatekeeper (such an assistant)? Or do they directly benefit from the product’s benefits?
  2. Evaluate the Lead’s Authority. Can they influence the purchase? Do they act alone or with others? Can they influence the person they aren’t in charge of? Are they able to contribute in any other way to the sale?
  3. Understanding Their Pain Points. What are their pain points? What other benefits can they derive from your product?
  4. Pin-Point your Strategic Advantages. What are they doing right now to address their problems? What upgrades can you offer them? What are your unique advantages over the competition?
  5. Cross-Reference their Needs with Your Value Proposition. Do they fit the criteria? Are they really the right fit? Does your product help them achieve their business goals? How?
  6. Position Your Company. Is the customer familiar with your product? Are they interested in your product? How can you best inform them to speed up their journey through the funnel
  7. Get their Budget. Is the client able to afford the product? Will they be willing to pay for the product?
  8. Place the Deal in Their Timeline. What time do they require the product? Do they need it immediately? Is it urgent?
  9. Map your Way to the Sale. Is it possible to sell the product in the near future? Can you see a clear path (and realistic) to closing the deal based on the information that you have?


3. Gather the necessary information


What type of communication do you prefer in client interactions will determine how and when this information is collected .

Your data collection efforts must align with your customer journey map and content funnel. Combine them with lead scoring to reduce the chance of reaching potential customers too quickly.

Here are some of the methods you can use to gather information:

  • Opt-In Forms. It is easiest to collect information by creating an opt-in form for leads to fill out when they give you their contact details.

This allows you to gather all the data you need and to filter out leads who aren’t interested. They are unlikely to be willing to give you the necessary information.

Be careful about the placement and timing of the opt-in forms in the funnel. You could lose leads if you ask too many personal questions too early on in the customer journey.

You can also ask any number of pertinent questions. But don’t ask too many questions. The more questions you ask, the greater chance that the lead will become overwhelmed and give up.

  • Surveys. You don’t have to be frightened of the leads by your first interaction. Wait for them to give their contact details, then send them an survey inviting them to provide more information.

They won’t feel pressured to give you the information you require.

Be sure to not influence their responses. You need real and accurate information. You will waste your time and your lead qualification process won’t produce accurate results.

  • Personal calls. A one-on-one conversation is the best way to reach the most promising leads.

A sales rep can contact a lead personally to ask relevant questions, assess their attitude and determine how qualified they are.

However, it is best to avoid calling customers too early on in the customer journey. First, you don’t have enough information for a personalized approach. Second, you might come across as intrusive, which could drive customers away.

  • Data from Tools. Analyzing the data that tools collect is the best way to gather information to qualify leads.

You will then be able get to know your customer and create a personal approach before you reach out.

Although the data the tools gather is not extensive, it can still be sufficient to create a customer profile that matches your buyer personas. You will only need to complete the gaps if you have this information.


4. Segment the Leads


It can be classified into one of these categories depending on how qualified and ready to sell the lead. This segmentation allows you to choose how to proceed with the communication.

  • Unqualified. Leads are not the right match or require more nurturing before they are ready to buy.

Based on their lead score or profile, they can be either discarded or deprioritized to be approached later.

  • Marketing Qualified. Although the leads may be a good match, they might not yet be ready to purchase.

They must be provided with the right marketing information to help them get to the next stage of their journey.

  • Sales Qualified. These leads are located in the bottom half the funnel and can be approached by a salesperson for prospecting , and eventually an offer.

The rep should ask questions in order to understand the needs and pain points of the customer. This will show how the product can help them.

  • Product Qualified. These leads are likely to be ready to convert if they have shown an active interest in the product/service (they’ve downloaded a trial, requested demos, or signed-up for a freemium account).

Sales reps should ensure that their needs are met before they close the deal.


Bottom line


Businesses can reduce lead clutter and only deal with leads that could become clients by qualification. They can also create efficient workflows with the right segmentation. This allows you to address the concerns of each lead and increases the probability of them converting.

Businesses can refine their marketing strategies and reduce sales cycles by doing this. Smart lead qualification increases the efficiency of sales and marketing teams.

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