The lead qualification process is a crucial function in a company’s overall lead generation strategy. The reasons are simple – saving time, closing deals, increasing revenue, and growing the business. The ultimate goal of your sales leads and management team is to improve your closed sales ratio by optimizing your company’s time and resources.
A great deal of effort is expended from many people across departments, specifically your marketing and sales teams, to get to the point of the process where you receive confirmation that your prospect has made the decision to say “yes” to the sale. Simply stated, you do not want to waste time on dead-end prospects who have no intention or ability to purchase from your company or are not a good fit for your products and services. The time and energy spent on the wrong leads is exhausting! Where do you start?
Types of Leads
A great place to start is understanding and defining the types of leads in the sales process. As defined by HubSpot:
Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL) – MQLs are leads who are fit to receive marketing communications such as email campaigns, content offers, and more.
Sales Qualified Leads (SQL) – SQLs are leads who are ready to connect with a sales rep and begin the sales process.
What Role Does the Marketing Team Play in the Process?
The goal of your marketing team in the sales process is to never hand over an unqualified lead to salespeople. Wasted time is a missed opportunity. Developing a list of quality leads can be executed through multiple channels.
Inbound Marketing – your marketing team creates valuable content that helps prospects understand how your company’s solutions are the right fit for them to help solve their daily pain points. This can be done through various methods including:
- Social media (particularly LinkedIn for B2B companies)
- White papers
- Press Releases
Outbound Marketing – a smart marketing plan blends the right mix of tactics that best make sense for your company. These methods include:
- Direct mail
- Event sponsorships
- Tradeshow presentations
- Advertising (TV, radio, print, online)
Before your company can implement any of these marketing initiatives, your marketing team develops key information so that everyone across the company fully understands who your customer is. They create and identify:
- Buyer personas – a semi-fictional representation of your ideal buyer based on data, interviews, and some educated guesses, it is a definition of your ideal buyer presented in such a way that it sounds like it’s talking about a specific person.
- Ideal customer profile (ICP) – commonly referred to as an ideal buyer profile, it defines the perfect customer for what your organization solves for. This is a fictitious company that has all of the qualities that would make them the best fit for the solutions you provide.
- Target audience – a group of consumers that is characterized by behavior and specific demographics. They are a pillar that influences decision making for marketing strategy, such as where to spend money on ads, how to appeal to customers, and even what product to build next.
Definitions by HubSpot.
Why is Lead Qualification Important in the Sales Process?
Your company and its leadership want to set up their sales reps for success. Pursuing leads that cannot or will not purchase from your company results in lost revenue and a tremendous amount of wasted time. Highly motivated B2B sales professionals want to close sales. They do not want to spend wasteful time lead nurturing the wrong prospects or pursuing leads with outdated, incorrect contact information.
Key points to note:
- Keeping a full and active sales pipeline is a top priority.
- The B2B sales cycle is most often a long one. Lead qualification is imperative to lessen the amount of time in the arduous sales cycle as much as possible.
- Top performing sales reps are all about high conversion rates. Lead qualification gives your sales team the best chance for successful conversions, leading prospects to become customers.
- Metrics motivate high performers. Salespeople who strive for success are motivated to see the numbers.
What You Need to Know About Lead Scoring Models
HubSpot defines lead scoring this way – it is the process of assigning values, often in the form of numerical “points,” to each of the leads you generate for the business. You can score your leads based on multiple attributes, including the professional information they’ve submitted to you and how they’ve engaged with your website and brand across the internet. Lead scoring helps your sales and marketing teams prioritize the activities directed at the prospects that your company has the best chance to convert to a customer.
There are many CRM and marketing automation platforms that include lead scoring as a featured benefit. Take the opportunity to use these innovative tools.
Demographics, contact information, and company size are data that is included in this process.
Asking the Right Qualifying Questions is Critical
In order to discover the best leads for your company, you must ask the right qualifying questions. This cannot be overstated. If you want to optimize your company’s time and resources to increase sales, the qualifying questions will be the difference maker in your sales process.
Key points in determining the best qualifying questions for your company:
- You are trying to understand everything you need to know about the decision-maker in your target audience.
- You must understand and pay attention to your prospect’s pain points and what problems they are trying to solve.
- You are trying to determine if a prospect in your target audience is a true potential customer that is worth continued pursuit.
- The right questions can help your understand your prospect’s decision-making process and how you should manage your communication with them.
- You must direct your questions in a way that helps your sales team understand the target company’s decision criteria so that you can adjust to their needs.
- Design your questions to understand if your pricing model fits into their budget, otherwise you may find your sales reps chasing leads who cannot afford your solutions.
- It is crucial that you ask the questions which help you understand your target company’s processes and how they make their purchasing decisions and who, in the company, needs to give their approval for the sale to close.
Acronyms You Need to Know: Lead Qualification Frameworks
There are various lead qualification frameworks that can help you determine the criteria you would like to set for your lead qualification campaigns. They include:
- BANT (developed by IBM) – Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeline
- CHAMP – Challenges, Authority, Money, and Prioritization
- GPCTBA/C&I – Goals, Plans, Challenges, Timeline, Budget, Authority/Negative Consequences and Positive Implications
- MEDDIC – Metrics, Economic Buyer, Decision Criteria, Decision Process, Identify Pain, and Champion
Lead qualification can be executed in-house by your internal team, or your company can consider outsourcing these services. The questions your management team needs to ask –
Does your company have the properly skilled and experienced team internally to keep this function in-house?
Do you want to separate this part of the sales process away from your salespeople, allowing them to focus 100% on closing sales?
If outsourcing is your choice, talk to Intelemark today! You determine the criteria for the lead qualification process, and we will implement the campaign according to your desired parameters.
How can B2BAppointmentSetting.com help you with your lead qualification efforts and free your sales team from time-consuming tasks so that they can focus on closing sales and generating revenue? We are a skilled, expert B2B appointment setting services company which includes lead qualification services in our offering. We deploy only the highest quality, experienced B2B appointment setters. Contact us today!