We’ve all heard stories about the lucky ones. The people for whom everything simply falls into place...
Those who clear the first interview they appear for.
Those who meet the love of their life on their first-ever date.
Those who grab whopping 80% discounts on the best brands in a 4-hour long sale.
We wonder how lucky they are!
But luck isn’t something we can rely on when it comes to selling, right?
Sure, sometimes, you come across leads in your sales pipeline who fit your buyer persona and are really interested in your product. Sometimes your lead generation efforts lead to prospects that convert without much pushing. But that’s not how it usually goes. Lead qualification helps you change your luck, you might say, to some degree. The whole idea of your lead qualification process is to prioritize the sales team’s lead nurturing efforts.
What is lead qualification?
In a nutshell, lead qualification gives you early insight into the likelihood of a prospect converting. It’s very much like evaluating a potential date rather than going in blind.
Lead qualification is the process of evaluating whether leads are worth the sales team’s time and effort. It gives your sales process some direction, helps with prioritization, and allows you to filter out the leads that will cost you more than they can contribute to your revenue. Lead qualification helps you to improve conversion rates by focusing efforts where there is a higher potential for them to yield results.
Why is lead qualification important?
Here are situations that you might have had the misfortune of experiencing when you pursue unqualified leads.
- You draft a perfectly tailored sales script for a prospect, only to receive a failure notice when you finally hit send. Is the email address wrong? Is their inbox full? Have they moved on to another job?
- That was not so bad; this one’s worse: You end up investing hours in a pitch, a product demo, explaining use cases and why you’re better than your competition, even throwing in a few free webinars - only to find out that they don't have the budget.
- This last one is the absolute worst: You pursue your prospect with several calls and emails, talk to five people in their team, and hear all of their sob stories and business problems. You manage to convince them that your product is the solution to all their woes - only to realize that they are not looking to buy or switch brands for another couple of months. (Now, you might argue that at least you’ve made a mark, but another brand could do the same. It's not a conversion. It's not money in the bank.)
Think of all the time and resources you might have saved if you had disqualified any of these prospects right away. All the time you spent on them is time that you did not spend on leads that were likely to convert immediately and contribute to this month’s sales targets.
Hence, lead qualification.
How to qualify a lead
Here are three steps to an ideal lead qualification process:
- Prepare a research checklist
A simple google search can often yield a wide (sometimes unnecessary) variety of information about your sales leads, depending on who they are and what their social presence is like. Some people are social media stars or very aggressive bloggers, and you might be able to find out where they partied last weekend, what their dogs look like, or how they alone are able to turn out amazingly fluffy quinoa. LinkedIn profiles will give you info about their whole career. But that’s not the information you need as a salesperson.
To help you laser focus on the details that tell you about a sales lead’s likelihood to convert, you might want to find out factors such as
- Buyer persona - Does this potential customer match your ideal customer profile?
- Pre-qualification - Does this prospect come in as an MQL? Maybe they clicked on an ad placed by the marketing team or watched a webinar.
- Company details - Get the answers to qualification questions about your prospect’s budgets, current solution in use, internal decision-making process (and their role in it), locations, company size, and other factors that clue you into whether they are the right fit for your solution’s pricing and its benefits.
- Plan your discovery call
Here are some questions that you should ask prospects on your discovery call to evaluate if they are high-quality leads:
- What issue do you hope to resolve? What are your challenges?
- Are you currently using another solution to overcome this problem?
- What are you hoping to accomplish with your existing solution? How well is it meeting your expectations?
- Who will make the ultimate decision on this purchase?
- What budgets have you/ the final decision-maker allocated for this solution?
- Simple addition and deduction
Now, Sherlock, you’ve got all your clues, and it’s time to make a deduction. Put all the information together about this prospect, hold it up against other leads in your basket and then prioritize the best leads (not the prettiest ones; the ones most likely to convert!). Use lead scoring systems if your sales team has one in place, or simply assign values to each parameter and start with the winning prospect.
There you have it; a foolproof, always useful process for lead qualification.
Now, let’s move on lead qualification frameworks.
Methods to use for qualifying your leads
These methods give you a checklist that you can use in the process that we described above.
Wait… didn’t we already give you a checklist? Not really, we just said you needed to have a research checklist and gave you an overview of the details you should be gunning for. The lead qualification frameworks we’re about to discuss will give you complete, ready-to-run checklists that you can use on your discovery calls and emails.
Did a shiver just run down your spine when we said discovery call? Become a discovery call pro with this handy guide.
All of the framework names are actually acronyms for the focus areas that their lead qualifications questions pursue, which makes them easy to remember. If at a given point, your lead answers yes to at least three questions, they get a sales-qualified tag.
Neat, right? Let’s dive into these sales qualification frameworks.
- Budget - Does the company have the funds to buy your product?
- Authority - Are you in conversation with the final decision-making authority?
- Need - Do they have an actual need gap that your product can bridge?
- Time - Is this the right time to talk to them about a new product?
- CHallenges - What is your prospect - or your prospect’s business - struggling with?
- Authority - Is your prospect going to make the final decision on whether your product is a worthy, timely and necessary investment?
- Money - Can your prospect afford your product, service, or solution? Do they have the willingness to pay the price that works for your revenue goals?
- Priorities - Is the business challenge or business goal that your product solves a matter of priority for your prospect? For example, perhaps you can help your prospect scale their business to new locations, and this is a genuine struggle for them - one they have budgets to resolve. However, right now, their priority is fixing supply chain leaks. You’re wasting your time in that case.
- Metrics - Evaluate the actual value your solution can provide for the company. Use metrics to justify the cost of purchasing your product against the potential revenue that your prospect’s business can earn by using it.
- Economic buyer - Determine which of the prospects in your pool have the budget to purchase your product or the ability to create a budget if
- Decision criteria - A suave sales rep develops and hones a spidey sense (or a line of questioning) that allows them to understand exactly what the buyer is seeking from your product, their criteria checklist, and what they are comparing your product to.
- Decision-making process - You can’t zero in on this one without asking the prospect directly, so just go ahead and ask: What is your company’s decision-making process? Or, if you’re on friendly terms: If I get you on board, am I in? Or do we have to join forces and convince a bunch of other people?
- Identifying pain points - Ask the right questions and be sure to understand your prospect’s pain points. These pain points will not only tell you whether you’re a good fit but will also help you to craft a more impactful sales pitch.
- Champions - Picture this: Jim was on a team that used your product in his prior job. He’s no decision-maker here in this much larger company, but he had a definitively positive experience and could sway the purchase decision in your favor. Cultivate Jim as a champion for your cause. You can tell your prospect to verify your claims with Jim, for example.
- Competition - Always approach your prospect with the understanding that they’re going to compare you to your competitors. Go in ready with a list of factors that make you the more suitable choice.
Address USPs and suitability rather than trashing your competition or expecting the client to simply take your word for it.
- Authority - Prioritize zeroing in on the decision-maker to pitch your product. If the prospect that you’re reaching out to doesn’t have the decision-making authority, channel your efforts to other prospects until you’re able to reach the decision-maker.
- Need - Does your product or service bridge a need gap or deliver any tangible value to the prospective company's goals, challenges, and functions?
- Urgency - How urgently does your prospect need your solution? Just how severe are his pain points linked to your solution?
- Money - Surprised that it’s last on the list? Use this approach if, in your context, pricing is not the biggest hurdle in making a sale.
How Wingman can help you choose the best lead
Let’s look at what you need for lead qualification. In most cases, for you to assign an SQL tag, you need data. And… more data. Data from your CRM if you’re recycling leads and data from your discovery calls. Wingman helps you improve your lead qualification on multiple levels.
One, Wingman automatically tells you which leads are more likely to convert. Second, it collates data from all sources - CRM, Slack, email, and calls to unify all your customer information. Wingman gives you AI-powered insights to help you identify the leads that are worth your time. It’s scannable call transcripts give you a detailed snapshot of objections, competitor mentions, and pain points so that you can evaluate whether they qualify as an SQL.
Win bigger and more often with Wingman. Verify our claims with a free demo.