Do you have a process to qualify sales leads, or are you wasting time on leads that have little to no hope of converting? When the qualification process is treated as an after-thought, it becomes far too easy for lucrative leads to be lost in a sea of poor quality leads. Qualification plays a vital role in lead nurturing, helping you to identify high value leads in a way that saves time and resources.
Knowing when to sell, how to close the deal, how to determine whether or not a potential lead is a good fit for your business and even knowing whether you have a genuine sales opportunity in front of you is key. Once leads have been qualified, it becomes far easier to determine whether or not is worth proceeding through your sales funnel. One of the biggest mistakes made in lead generation happens when over-eager sales teams try to move too quickly before there is sufficient information to know whether or not the lead is viable.
When sales leads are not qualified, you will soon find yourself firing into the dark, without any clear direction. Needless to say, this is never a good basis for your digital marketing campaigns – especially those that rely on accurate data and lead readiness to perform. Some of the biggest dangers of unqualified sales leads include the following:
- Wasted time. Unqualified leads very quickly lead to wasted time spent following up on leads that have no chance of converting. You will also end up trying to sell to leads that may not be a good fit for your business. It goes without saying that time wasted on bad leads is time taken away from good leads.
- Missed chances. The very best potential leads may require a fair amount of investment in the way of time and effort. Being able to easily identify high value leads is super important in order to separate the genuinely viable leads from those that may end up fizzling out before they get anywhere.
- Reduced clarity. With qualification comes clarity. That means being able to identify potential pain points, along with other critical information that helps you create deeper lead profiles. Knowing a bit more about your leads will help you know how to sell in a way that ensures a higher chance of conversion.
- Bad deals. Without qualification, it becomes a lot easier to end up with bad deals that do not help your business in any way. This is bad for you and your customer. If you sell to someone who is not a good fit for your product, it may end up putting your reputation and brand at stake in the long run.
- Frustrating deals. It will also become far harder to close deals. If you do not have any insight into the average amount of time it takes your lead to purchase, let alone any idea of the deal value, it may increase the risk of bad surprises as you progress through the sales funnel.
Now that you have a better idea of why it is so important to qualify sales leads, let's take a look at how you can perfect your qualification process to fine-tune your results.
How to Qualify Sales Leads More Efficiently
Qualifying sales leads does not have to be overly complicated if you have a clear plan in place that can be used for every lead. There are a few things to keep in mind when qualifying your leads. Here are some of the most important things to consider:
This is by far one of the most important factors to determine. Ideally, you want to focus on the leads that best suit your customer profile. How does the lead suit your ideal customer profile? What is the size of the company? Is the lead in your target area, location-wise? Is the lead within your target industry?
You could design a simple ideal use case to help you determine whether potential leads fall into this category. You could also look at whether the lead has used similar tools previously, and take a look at their broader ecosystem. It can also be effective to determine whether the lead's needs are aligned with your offering.
For example, if a lead represents a large international company and you typically deal with small and medium enterprises, it may not be the best fit.
Next up, you can take a closer look at the needs of your lead. Over and above being aligned with your offering, what does the lead need? Whether b2b or b2c, you will need to get a better idea of what your potential customer is seeking. Are they aiming to meet specific goals? What are their individual needs versus the needs of their team or even company?
Whatever sector your leads and business may fall, both b2b and b2c sales have something important in common – you are selling to people first. That means knowing whether or not your business is able to fulfil their needs and wants.
You will also need to gauge the decision-making process. How does your lead make decisions? Are there many people involved in the process, or are you dealing with the key decision-maker? What sort of buying process is in place? Is there a waiting period in play? A purchasing process that could cause major delays of up to 12 months?
Are they looking to purchase now or further down the line? Are multiple departments involved in the process, or will sales progress fairly simply? If you have to wait months to close the deal, it may not be worth pursuing the lead. If the purchasing process is straight-forward, on the other hand, you won't have to worry about delays.
Finally, it is also always a good idea to consider whether or not you have any competition to think about before closing the deal. Who are your competitors? Have any other vendors pitched to this lead? Is the lead genuine or a potential competitor conducting research on your systems, products and prices? If the lead is valid, what criteria will be used to make a final decision? Asking these questions is the simplest way to get an idea of how much competition you need to beat.
Before You Qualify Sales Leads
By now, you have a better idea of the best way to qualify sales lead. What about the worst way to try and qualify your leads? How can you ensure that you get honest answers? What happens when your lead is a bit reluctant? These final tips will help you troubleshoot any potential issues.
Asking questions is good. Firing questions rapidly without listening and conversing is not so good. Make sure that you weave your questions into the conversation as subtly and naturally as possible so that you do not make your prospect nervous or uncomfortable.
Consider the bigger picture
Sometimes, you may not get the most accurate answers. This may be because leads are not being honest or it could simply be because the lead is not quite ready to part with information. Focusing on context is therefore essential. Rather than listening only to what leads say, think about their overall reaction as well. Do they genuinely sound interested when they say they are? Do they sound like they cannot wait to end the conversation? Read these subtle clues and you should start to get a clearer idea of where you stand.
Approach reluctant leads carefully
If you keep getting flat answers such as 'I don't know' to every question, it could be due to the fact that you are talking to the wrong person or it could be due to a lack of trust. One way to build trust is to reassure prospects that you focus on long-term growth. If you pick up signs that the lead does not want to give out any information, it is better to cut your losses than to try and force the issue.We hope that these tips make your lead qualification process easier.
To find out more about how our innovative digital marketing platform helps you fine-tune your lead nurturing process throughout every step of the way, get in touch with the Grapevine team today and let us show you how to take your sales leads to the next level.