Digital marketing campaigns help your business generate open leads regularly from multiple communication channels. But every open lead may fit your ideal customer profile or become a paying customer. You must filter and evaluate open leads based on their purchasing potential. The lead qualification process helps you identify leads that will make an actual purchase by evaluating open leads using a slew of frameworks and parameters.
According to Business News Daily,
“Only 1 in 5 leads ultimately becomes a customer. This means that for every new customer you get, there are four who were not persuaded to use your products or services. That’s a lot of time and money lost, but smart lead qualification can minimize this concern.”
You can implement a lead qualification strategy to identify the open leads who match the buyer persona created by your business. Also, you can differentiate sales qualified leads (SQL) from marketing qualified leads (MQL). But you can identify MQLs and SQLs accurately only by making a lead qualification checklist. In addition to making lead qualification a multistep process, the checklist will make your salespeople ask the right question at the right time.
Salespeople identify the target audience for a product/service based on the buyer persona or ideal customer profile created by your business. The buyer personas are created by combining real and market research data.
Hence, salespeople can use buyer personals as a powerful tool to qualify leads using a slew of parameters – business type, business location, business size, annual revenue, and job role. They can disqualify leads who do not match the ideal customer profile easily and early.
Salespeople can identify MQL only by understanding the intent and interests of a lead who match the ideal customer profile. While understanding the lead’s intent, they must check if the lead has visited your website multiple times.
Likewise, they understand the lead’s interests based on the information collected by her about the product/service and the case studies and tutorials accessed by her while visiting the website. The MQL must be interested in your product/service, along with matching the ideal customer profile.
The sales qualification process often starts with the identification of problems, issues, concerns, or pain points. The salespeople must ask relevant questions to understand the lead’s concerns or needs clearly. The understanding helps them recommend the appropriate product/service. Also, they can leverage the information to customize the solution according to the lead’s precise needs.
B2B leads always look for products or services to meet specific goals. But your product or service may meet the lead’s short-term goals, long-term goals, or both. Salespeople must ask several questions to understand the lead’s short-term and long-term goals. The answers will help them to customize or extend your solution according to the lead’s goals by adding the relevant features.
Many leads these days look for alternative or new solutions after using a solution or investing in resources. The salespeople can influence the lead only when they measure the time, effort, and resources spent by the lead in solving the issue. They must ask questions to identify the pros and cons of the solutions used by the lead. Also, they can leverage the information to provide different and superior alternatives to the lead.
B2B leads often look for solutions to beat the competition or outperform competitors. Salespeople must ask specific questions to understand what makes competitors score over the lead. Likewise, they need to understand the expectations of the lead from a brand or business. They can leverage the information to present your product or service as a superior alternative to overcome the lead’s shortcomings and surpass competitors.
As the lead has collected a variety of information from your website, she must have formed a perception about your product, service, or brand. She may like some features of your brand and may not like specific features. Salespeople can influence the lead’s brand perception by focusing on the positive features. Also, they must change the brand perception by clearing misconceptions and doubts. Salespeople must ask specific questions to know what the lead thinks of the brand.
Unlike large companies, small businesses and startups often lack the budget required to avail of cutting-edge solutions. The salespeople must know the lead’s budget by asking relevant questions. They further need to know the lead’s budget in the early stages of the sales qualification process. You can make it easier for salespeople to close the deal by adjusting the price according to the lead’s budget.
In most organizations, B2B purchase decisions are made by a committee of decision-makers. The salespeople cannot close sales deals without establishing relationships with multiple decision-makers. While qualifying leads, they must ask specific questions to understand the decision-making process and know the number of decision-makers involved in the process. The information will help them to build relationships with the right managers.
Some leads look for quick solutions, while others look for long-term solutions. Hence, the timeframe for closing sales deals varies across organizations. Salespeople must ask relevant questions to the lead to know when she is planning to place the order. The information is crucial for salespeople to plan lead nurturing activities and decide the lead qualification time.
After understanding the lead’s needs, expectations, and goals, it is time for salespeople to present your brand as a solution. But they must ask questions to know what prevents the lead from completing the deal or placing an order. The lead may not close the deal due to a variety of reasons – inadequate budget or lack of authority to close the deal. Salespeople must ask specific questions to identify why SQL is not closing the deal. Also, they must work on the issues to convert the SQL into a customer
You can make a lead qualification checklist to make your business’s lead generation and lead nurturing strategies more impactful. But you must focus on using the checklist as a tool to make lead qualification a multi-step process. However, it is also important to keep the lead qualification checklist flexible enough to include new points and criteria.