Imagine if you dated every person that showed any sort of romantic interest in you. Yikes! Sounds awful, right?
Lead qualification is similar to the dating scene—just because someone enters the sales pipeline doesn’t mean they’re B2B relationship material. It takes time to get to know one another and determine if this could be something successful for both parties in the long run.
Like dating, it’s vital to set boundaries with your business—and boundaries look different for every company and industry. A lead qualification process ensures that each lead chased by SDRs meets your company’s ideal customer criteria and is likely to convert into a customer.
There are a variety of lead qualification strategies that sales teams can follow to qualify leads in the sales pipeline. In this blog, we’ll highlight the following topics:
Lead qualification is the process of determining which leads in the sales pipeline meet your company’s customer criteria. Lead qualification is a crucial part of the sales funnel because it lets your sales teams know which leads in the sales pipeline are a good fit for your company’s product and service offerings.
A common misconception about lead generation is that every lead that comes your way is a potential business opportunity. However, it’s important to know that this is not the case. By developing a lead qualification framework, your sales development representatives (SDRs) have the opportunity to score leads based on your company’s predetermined ideal customer criteria. This ensures every appointment set by an SDR is qualified and has the chance to convert from a lead to a customer.
A lead qualification process requires several steps from your sales and marketing experts. First, the sales team gathers the prospect’s information from an inbound or outbound source. Then, they determine if a lead meets your company’s partnership criteria and how likely they are to make a purchase. An SDR can gather this information by researching the company online and speaking with a key decision-maker (KDM) one-on-one on the phone. From here, the SDR asks them lead qualifying questions to learn about their current product or service solutions.
Overall, the end goal of the lead qualification process is to set a qualified lead up with a sales appointment between them and your internal sales team. During this sales appointment, your internal sales team can deliver them a more targeted pitch and sales presentation.
When qualifying leads for your sales process, it’s essential to determine how these leads enter the sales pipeline in the first place. There are two types of leads in the sales pipeline: sales- and marketing-qualified leads.
A sales-qualified lead (SQL) is a lead that your sales team identifies as a good potential business opportunity. These SQLs can be found online through a search engine or LinkedIn or purchased through a third-party database. A sales lead is typically confirmed as a qualified lead after an SDR’s initial pitch with a confirmed KDM.
On the other hand, a marketing-qualified lead (MQL) is when a potential buyer enters the sales pipeline through your digital platforms, such as your website, social media, or landing page. These leads show initial interest in what your company has to offer, and it’s up to your sales team to reach out to them directly to determine if they are qualified for your company’s product or service.
One of the most significant differences between SQLs and MQLs is their intent to buy. With SQLs, there may not be an initial intent to purchase. Over time, it may take some nurturing for an SQL to convert from a lead into a sales appointment. On the other hand, when MQLs submit their contact information to your website, they’re initially showing interest in what your company has to offer. From here, it’s up to your sales team to follow up and determine if they meet your company’s lead qualifications.
A lead qualification process provides many benefits to a company’s lead generation program. When it comes down to it, a lead qualification process:
Saves Your Sales Reps Time and Effort
Cold calling and emailing a bad lead wastes a significant amount of time and effort that your SDRs could be spending on a lead worth pursuing. Your SDRs can spend more time pitching potential customers and converting those leads into high-quality sales appointments by implementing a lead qualification process.
Reduces the Amount of Time a Lead Is in the Sales Cycle
A lead qualification strategy encourages leads to accelerate their time in the sales cycle. With a lead qualification process, sales and marketing teams can create and distribute marketing collateral that aligns with a specific lead’s wants and needs. Sales enablement materials like case studies, sell sheets, and promotional videos quicken a lead’s journey through the sales funnel because these assets build trust and credibility.
Allows Sales Reps To Follow Up at the Right Time
Lead scoring and qualification encourage SDRs to follow up with leads in the sales pipeline when they’re ready to buy. This enables SDRs to pitch sales appointments when it aligns with their timeline, reducing the number of calls and emails it takes to convert them from a lead into a potential business opportunity.
There are a variety of lead qualification strategies to choose from for your company’s business growth efforts. When selecting a lead qualification strategy, it’s important to consider what kind of appointments you want from SDRs. Here are some of the most common lead qualification strategies that many sales development teams follow today:
A BANT lead qualification strategy prioritizes four main lead qualifying characteristics (in order): budget, authority, needs, and timeline.
- Budget: Do your company’s offerings align with how much a prospect is willing to spend on a B2B product or service provider?
- Authority: Does the prospect have buying- and decision-making power when it comes to your company’s product or service?
- Needs: Does a prospect require your company’s product or service, or are they just interested in learning their options?
- Timeline: Is the prospect ready to make a purchase today or next quarter?
While BANT is one of the most common lead qualification strategies, one of the downfalls of this strategy is that it can’t be your only lead qualifying solution. This is because traditional BANT characteristics are not necessarily predictable, and not every prospect will fit into this perfect little box. When practicing BANT, it’s essential that you also implement a lead nurturing solution so eventually a lead that meets your ideal customer criteria is ready to make a purchase.
A CHAMP lead qualification strategy chases these four characteristics: challenges, authority, money, and prioritization. While CHAMP is similar to the BANT method, CHAMP prioritizes a prospect’s challenges over making a sale. Additionally, CHAMP focuses on prioritizing making a purchase rather than setting a strict timeline. When using the CHAMP lead qualification method, a prospect determines a timeline by how urgent a company’s product or service is to their day-to-day operations.
The MEDDIC lead qualification strategy is more complex than BANT or CHAMP. This lead qualification strategy focuses on a wide range of factors, including:
- Metrics: What’s the potential customer’s end goal using your company’s product or service? How is the success of the partnership measured?
- Economic buyer: Who’s responsible for purchasing your company’s product or service?
- Decision-making criteria: What are the prospect’s criteria for making a purchasing decision?
- Decision-making process: How does the prospect approach making a financial decision?
- Identification of pain points: What issues is a prospect looking to solve?
- Champion: Is there someone within the prospect’s company that has first-hand experience with your company and can serve as a “champion” of the products and services you offer?
The MEDDIC lead qualification strategy is a more detailed approach to generating leads. It’s important to consider that using this lead qualification strategy may result in fewer sales appointments; however, it will result in higher quality sales appointments overall.
An ANUM lead qualification strategy has four characteristics (in order): authority, needs, urgency, and money. While this lead qualification strategy has the same characteristics as the BANT method, ANUM considers authority the most crucial factor in lead qualification.
A FAINT lead qualification strategy has five components: funds, authority, interest, need, and timing. Like the BANT method, FAINT prioritizes a prospect’s budget and buying power. However, FAINT includes a new characteristic that enables your sales and marketing team to determine how interested a buyer is in your company’s product and service offerings.
Now that you’re aware of the different lead qualification strategies, how do sales teams qualify leads in the sales pipeline? Many sales teams qualify leads by:
- Gathering prospect data: An SDR can collect prospect data by looking up the prospective company online or talking with the listed KDM.
- Asking lead qualifying questions: Lead qualifying questions can help an SDR determine the prospect’s buyer persona and what they want in a service provider.
- Asking survey questions: Survey questions enable SDRs to determine if a prospect is a good fit for your company’s product or service.
Like dating, not everyone in the sales pipeline is B2B relationship material. A lead qualification strategy is essential to ensure that SDRs schedule high-quality sales appointments for your business. Without a lead qualification strategy in place, you risk attending sales appointments with little to no conversions.
At Abstrakt Marketing Group, our high-performing SDRs are trained to qualify leads based on your company’s ideal customer criteria. We’ll do all the grunt work for you, while you focus on crafting the perfect sales pitch that converts qualified leads into long-term clients. When you’re ready to maximize how you grow your business, contact the sales reps at Abstrakt Marketing Group!