You may have thousands of prospects in your sales pipeline, but how many of those are likely to convert into customers? While having a bunch of prospects is great to start off your sales development efforts, it doesn’t mean you have a thousand opportunities waiting to do business with you—which is why qualifying prospects is vital for long-term success.
But what is a qualified prospect anyways, and how do you get them? Well, we’re about to jump into that for you. Throughout this blog, we’ll cover the following:
A qualified prospect (also known as a sales lead) is an individual in the sales pipeline who meets your company’s ideal customer profile (ICP) and has shown interest in your company’s products or services.
A prospect can enter the sales pipeline through various outbound prospecting techniques. While a prospect may be in the sales pipeline, they may not actually be qualified to close business with your company. To qualify a prospect, a sales team member, commonly sales development representatives (SDR), must contact the prospect via phone call or email to verify their qualifiers. This is a process known as lead qualification.
Lead qualification is essential to the sales process because it makes sure that SDRs are chasing potential business opportunities that meet your product or service program requirements. Lead qualification looks different for every business in every industry. Here are some examples of lead qualifiers many B2B companies follow:
- Square footage (often over 10,000 square feet)
- Number of full-time employees (often over 60)
- Number of workstations (specifically for IT, MSP, and software companies)
In addition to these lead qualifiers, SDRs should verify a decision-maker’s name, job title, email address, and office building location. This is to ensure that the person you potentially set a sales appointment with is the best point of contact for your company’s product or service, and they’re within your service region.
There tends to be a lot of confusion around the difference between a sales lead, prospect, and opportunity. To learn the core differences between these lead generation terms, read our blog here.
Qualifying a prospect is more than asking a string of questions to explore if they’d be a good fit for your business. It’s also asking them questions to see if YOUR company would be a good fit for THEIR needs. B2B partnerships are two-way streets, so you must also consider what they’re looking for so it’s not a one-sided relationship. When qualifying a prospect, SDRs must consider:
Their Awareness of Needing Your Product or Service
Are prospects in the sales pipeline aware of the pain points they have? Do they have any pain points, or are they satisfied with their current solution? For a prospect to be qualified, they must understand they have a problem that needs to be addressed and want to make a change.
During sales calls and emails, SDRs should ask prospects about specific pain points. Here are some questions that SDRs can ask to uncover potential pain points:
- What do you wish your current product or service provider did differently?
- What would have to happen for you to consider alternative solutions?
- What would you consider the biggest challenge with your current provider?
Their Authority or Willingness To Buy
A qualified prospect should be willing and have the authority to make a purchase. If a prospect isn’t interested, they remain a prospect until they show genuine curiosity or are at the end of their buying cycle. Without this, you risk getting sales appointments that don’t result in closed business.
Additionally, a qualified prospect must have the authority to make a company purchase regarding your company’s product or service. If they say they’re influencers in the decision-making process but don’t sign on the dotted line, SDRs must contact the direct decision-maker or make sure they’ll be at the sales meeting.
Here are some questions SDRs can ask to determine if a prospect is a part of the decision-making process:
- Who is involved in making company purchasing decisions?
- What does the purchasing process look like for your company?
- Is there anyone else you’d like me to loop into this meeting?
Their Sense of Urgency With Making a Purchasing Decision
For a prospect to be qualified, there should be some urgency in making a purchasing decision. If they say they’re interested, but their contract doesn’t end for another six months, it’s not worth scheduling a sales appointment this far out.
While SDRs may want to try to set the appointment as soon as possible, it’s not in your best interest because their timeline is scheduled much further out than preferred. At this point, it’s important that SDRs implement the prospect into a lead nurturing funnel so they can continue to get sales emails to provide top-of-mind awareness. When the time comes to reassess contracts, your company will be the first they think of.
When the time comes closer to the end of their contract cycle, SDRs must make warm calls to remind the prospect of their previous conversation and aim to schedule a sales appointment. If the prospect needs an extra boost to lean towards setting a meeting, encourage SDRs to share case studies about clients you have that were in similar situations and how you’ve been able to help them accelerate their everyday business operations. This can help the prospect picture themselves as your client and be more open to becoming a qualified prospect.
They’re Open To Learning More About Your Company
And last but not least, a qualified prospect should be interested in learning more about your company. SDRs can notice if a prospect is interested in your company by the types of questions they ask and how they respond to what they have to say. If a prospect seems closed off to continuing a conversation, then SDRs should thank them for their time and follow up with them again in the future.
Prospect and lead qualification play a crucial role in lead management. Read our blog here to learn about the lead qualification process.
Before your sales team starts prospecting, it’s important to determine what your ideal client looks like. Creating an ideal client profile (ICP) is crucial for finding prospects for your sales pipeline and following up with leads that are worth your while.
To create your ideal client profile, it’s vital that you:
Compile a List of Your Most Significant Clients
Every client may be a winner in your eyes, but take a second to think about the clients that provide you with the most significant impact. Compiling a list of your biggest clients is essential because it allows you to get a better idea of where your best opportunities lay.
As you think of your best clients, think about why you consider them some of your best. Do they provide you with the most ROI? Have they been with your company for a long time? Are they continuously asking for more of your products or services? Once you have an idea of why they’re great clients in your eyes, you can use this information to help you determine what you want from potential customers.
For further analysis of your ICP, you can use your customer relationship management (CRM) software to learn about the most common industries and decision-makers you currently work with. Understanding the industries you collaborate with can help your sales team identify what types of businesses are likely to become qualified prospects. Additionally, knowing the most common decision-maker can help them determine the best person to get in contact with, reducing the time it takes to connect with the right person.
Organize Client Interviews
While doing client research is incredibly beneficial for learning about your ideal customer profile, it’s vital that you conduct your own research. A great way to do this is by organizing client interviews to gather qualitative and quantitative data to support the information you’ve collected through your research.
To get the most benefit out of your client interviews, it’s important to brainstorm questions to ask around these core areas:
- Client decision-maker information (job title, responsibilities, etc.)
- Client company data (industry served, years in business, etc.)
- Client goals and challenges (why they came to you)
- Client objections to signing on (what concerns did they have)
- Client purchasing decision process (understanding the buying timeline)
Analyze Data and Create Your Profiles
Once you’ve gathered all the data through research and client interviews, it’s time to sit down, analyze everything you compiled, and create your ideal client profiles.
Based on your research, what does your ideal client profile look like? Here are some key components to consider when creating your ideal client profile template:
- Buyer persona
- Short- and long-term goals
- Previous challenges
- Potential objections
- Buying process
This data can (and should) be used by every department, including your sales and marketing teams, account executives, business strategists, and more. This helps everyone streamline communication to ensure messaging is consistent from one sector of the business to the other. For easy visibility, it should be clear, visual, and easy to understand by every team member.
For more insight on how to identify your company’s ICP, read our blog here.
Selecting a prospecting method depends on a wide range of factors, including time, money, and resources. Additionally, it depends on what your sales and marketing experts feel the most comfortable with. Here are some ways that successful lead generation teams find B2B prospects to implement into their sales funnels:
Outbound Prospecting Tools
Sales tools and technologies have become a significant part of a company’s sales process, especially when it comes to outbound prospecting. Sales prospecting tools like ZoomInfo and D&B Hoovers are great for finding prospects because they supply you with everything you need to know about a company, including their:
- Company name
- Company location
- Company size
- Number of employees
- Top decision-makers
- Decision-maker email addresses
- Direct phone lines
- And more
While they may provide vital prospect information, many of these outbound prospecting tools are costly and complex if you don’t know how to use them to your advantage. If you’re unsure on how to use them or you don’t have the budget to swing it right now, it may be worth considering outsourcing your B2B lead generation efforts.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator
LinkedIn Sales Navigator (as the name suggests) is an extension of the LinkedIn social media platform. This is another way sales and marketing teams can find B2B prospects because you can narrow down your target audience based on company decision-makers, their job titles, the industry they serve, how many employees they have, and more. Many B2B marketing teams use this approach to maximize their LinkedIn lead generation strategy and connect with the best potential buyers for their company’s product or service.
While a company shouldn’t rely solely on client referrals to generate consistent business opportunities, it is still an impactful way to find new prospects for your sales pipeline. Asking clients for referrals is a great way to introduce yourself to new potential buyers because you have a mutual connection, encouraging them to trust your company from the get-go. Additionally, it reduces the amount of time sales reps have to spend trying to find the right decision-maker because they already have the information they need from your client.
A prospect may be in your sales pipeline, but this doesn’t mean they’re qualified for your company’s product or service offerings. To generate high-quality business opportunities, it’s important that your SDRs qualify prospects before setting sales appointments so they don’t waste either your time or the time of the individual attending the meeting.
At Abstrakt, our SDRs are trained to qualify prospects before scheduling sales appointments with clients. We have all the tools, talent, and expertise to set clients up with sales opportunities who are ready to convert into customers. If you need a hand with your outbound sales development strategy, contact the lead generation experts at Abstrakt!