Many B2B sales and marketing teams struggle with setting high-quality sales meetings with prospects who meet their standards. More often than not, this is because they don’t have a good lead qualification process in place (if any at all).
Just because a prospect enters the sales pipeline doesn’t mean that they’re a good fit for your business. To save time, money, and energy, it’s vital that your sales and marketing team has a lead qualification process in place to chase leads that are worth the fight.
Throughout this blog, we’ll cover the following topics:
What Does It Mean To Qualify a Lead?
Lead qualification is the part of the sales process where sales development representatives (SDRs) score leads based on their company profile and readiness to buy.
While lead qualification is one of the earlier stages of the sales process, it’s one of the most crucial because it ensures that sales reps are chasing leads that are likely to convert into closed business. Without a lead qualification process in place, you risk wasting valuable company time, money, and resources on leads that are unlikely to purchase.
How To Qualify a Lead
Lead qualification encompasses both objective and subjective components. To objectively qualify a lead, it’s important to think about what you consider a qualified prospect. Many B2B companies objectively qualify leads by gathering the following information:
- Square footage of a prospect’s commercial building
- A prospect’s number of full-time employees
- A prospect’s number of workspaces
As you consider your lead qualifiers, it’s essential to consider your industry. For example, commercial companies often focus on the square footage of the prospect’s commercial building. More often than not, they shoot for over 10,000 square feet because they know they’re more likely to get an ROI. If they don’t meet these qualifiers, they often consider the number of full-time employees they have. However, when it comes to companies in the IT and software industry, their qualifiers include the number of workspaces a prospect has.
Sales vs Marketing Lead Qualification
As you look into your lead qualification strategy, it’s important to know the difference between sales and marketing lead qualification.
A sales qualified lead (SQL) is a prospect in the sales pipeline who isn’t ready or interested in making a purchase but they meet the expectations of your ideal customer profile. This means they meet all your objective lead qualifiers but not the subjective ones. While they may not be ready to buy, this doesn’t mean they will never be. This is what makes lead nurturing such an essential part of the sales process. it enables your SDRs to build relationships over time and continuously add value to your company. When the time comes for a prospect to want to make a change to their current provider, your SDRs can reach out and aim to schedule a sales appointment between them and a member of your internal sales team.
A marketing qualified lead (MQL), also known as an inbound lead, is a lead that enters the sales funnel on their own terms because they’re interested in learning more about what your company has to offer. However, they’re not quite a qualified prospect yet because sales and marketing teams don’t know if they meet your company’s objective lead qualifiers, making inbound lead qualification an essential part of your marketing process.
MQLs enter the sales pipeline by finding your company online and submitting their contact information to gain more information. When a company has a good digital marketing strategy, they attract inbound leads through their website, social media profiles, and landing pages. While an MQL may not be sales qualified yet, they’re actively looking for a solution, which means they have pain points they want to resolve.
To qualify an MQL, sales teams must reach out to the potential customer and ask about their objective lead qualifiers. If they meet your ideal customer profile, they’re a qualified prospect and can take the next steps in their sales journey. If they’re not, they’re directed out of the sales pipeline because there’s no opportunity to close business.
Why Is Lead Qualification Important?
Lead qualification is an important part of the sales process because it saves sales and marketing teams time, money, and energy from chasing leads that are unlikely to make a purchase or result in little to no ROI.
Benefits of Lead Qualification
As a best practice, it’s crucial to implement lead qualification into the early stages of your sales process to ensure they’re worth your efforts. Overall, lead qualification helps you and your sales teams determine if a prospect:
- Meets your ideal customer criteria
- Could benefit from your company’s product or service
- Has a need for what your company has to offer
- Has the budget and authority to make a purchasing decision
- See the value in your company’s product or service
While disqualifying a lead may sound like a bad thing, it allows your sales and marketing team to put their energy toward more promising leads. Once an unqualified lead is out of the sales pipeline, your SDRs can gear their attention to prospects that are a part of your target audience.
Your Go-To Lead Qualification Checklist
Are you following all the steps of lead qualification? Here’s a lead qualification checklist your sales and marketing teams can follow to make sure you get the most qualified prospects for your sales pipeline.
1. Do They Fit Your Ideal Customer Profile?
If the answer is yes, they’re on the right track to being a qualified sales lead. If the answer is no, then your sales and marketing teams should get them out of the sales pipeline to focus on prospects worth their time and efforts.
2. Do You Have the Correct Company and Decision-Maker Information?
Is the person SDRs are speaking with the best point of contact for your company’s product or service offerings? When SDRs call or email prospects in the sales pipeline, it’s essential that they have the correct information to ensure there’s an opportunity to close. Without accurate company information, SDRs risk setting sales appointments with an industry you don’t work with or aren’t in your service region.
Additionally, without the right decision-maker information, SDRs risk setting sales appointments with people who don’t have buying power, increasing the amount of time they spend in the sales cycle. To find the best decision-maker for your company’s product or service, you must verify the decision-maker’s name and job title. When scheduling the appointment, SDRs should ask if anyone else should be attending the meeting or if they’re the final decision-maker when making company purchases.
3. Are They Frequently Looking at Your Sales and Marketing Content?
If a prospect frequently looks at your sales and marketing content, they might be interested in making a purchase. With the right sales tools and technologies, you can see what potential buyers are engaging with on your email marketing materials. One of the best tools companies can use to see email engagement is CRM software with sales and marketing extensions. It allows your sales and marketing teams to see what emails prospects in the sales pipeline are looking at and how they venture past those emails. If they click on a link or download a file attached to the email, your lead generation experts have a bird’s eye view of their journey. This allows them to make warm phone calls and adjust their pitch based on what they’re engaging with.
4. Have They Forwardly Expressed Interest in Your Company?
While looking at sales and marketing content is a good indication of whether or not a prospect is interested in your company, it’s important to take it with a grain of salt. They may be interested in learning more, but that doesn’t mean they’re ready to buy now. If a prospect openly expresses their interest in learning more, they may be a qualified lead. However, your SDRs must still verify their objective lead qualifications.
Lead qualification is a crucial part of the sales process because it makes sure that each prospect chased by your sales and marketing team is likely to result in closed business. Many companies skip this step in their business growth approach because they either don’t have the time or have the misconception that more leads equals more business opportunities. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth, and we have a solution for you.
At Abstrakt Marketing Group, our outbound SDRs are trained to qualify leads based on our clients’ ideal customer profiles to ensure they only get the best business opportunities for their sales pipelines. Want to see why our lead qualification and appointment setting process is so successful? Schedule a demo of our outbound lead generation solution here!
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