When a new sales lead comes in, it can feel like Christmas morning for your sales team, who has the enviable task of divvying up prospects into wanted or unwanted piles. But how do you justify the value of each prospect?
And if they land at the top of the unwanted pile, what do you do with that? Especially if 2, 3 or 10 months down the track, you change your mind and want that prospect back.
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and before you know it, that lead ends up in someone else’s sales pipeline.
Lead qualification doesn’t only tell you more about that person, but what to do next.
And it isn’t just the instant gratification of a shiny new toy that sales teams should focus on, but also the unpopular puzzle box that takes a little extra time to piece together.
We see more and more customers who are happy to share their information but only if they can receive a personalised experience in return.
And therein lies the key for how to qualify leads and prospects.
What happens when you don’t qualify sales leads?
- Missed chances
- Inefficient use of time
- Bad deals
Unfortunately, many prospects will only become a lifetime customer when you invest time in them – if you only take leads at face value, you’ll miss out on the chance to sell in people on the fence.
Inefficient use of time
Stop wasting time following up prospects that aren’t the ready for the face to face stage of the sales process. With the right qualifying questions, an integrated lead generation and email nurture strategy could do the hard yards for you.
Okay, sometimes a prospect will take the bait and buy. But down the track, they might decide they don’t like your product – one negative review later, and it’s bad for them, for you and for business.
You get the picture, lead qualification is just as important as lead generation.
How to qualify leads
Great marketing is a conversation, not an interrogation or oneway screaming match, and both sides should feel as if there is value in the exchange.
It follows that your lead qualification checklist requires a little extra thought to succeed.
When qualified correctly, the answers from a prospect will allow you to map out their customer journey, personalise content to reflect their stage in the sales cycle, and predict next steps.
But how long is a customer journey? As long as a piece of string.
Truth is, it’s different for every lead that enquires and that’s where the true challenge lies.
Here are four key areas you need to build your Christmas wishlist/lead qualification checklist around to start emptying your pile of unwanted gifts.
Compare your ideal customer profiles with your lead to start:
- What is their background?
- What are their pain-points and does what I have solve their problem?
- Is their timeframe to purchase in the short or long term?
- How would they maximise the value from your product?
When qualifying prospects for your sales pipeline, separate those who could fall under your ideal client category from those who could never.
Identify the needs of the customer, and how you are positioned to help:
- What is their biggest concern?
- What is the end goal your product meets?
- Where is the gap between what they need and want?
- How will your product affect them?
B2C and B2B qualification are very similar when it comes down to it; you’re always selling to people.
Be sure you’re talking with the decision maker to close the sale:
- How does the prospect make decisions?
- How many people are involved?
- What do they need to do before they commit to the sale?
Don’t waste your time attempting to convince a new lead, only to have the decision maker undo all your hard work once you get off the phone (this can be a manager in B2B or a partner in B2C).
Who you think you’re competing against, and who your competition is, are different:
- Are you competing with a provider or a tool?
- What stage of research are they in?
- How did they come to find you – a recommendation?
- Are you competing with non-consumption?
- What is your unique selling point?
Clayton Christensen explains it best in ‘Understanding the Job.’ If consumers hire products to do things for them, you need to find out why a consumer would hire your product.
Once you understand the job to be done, improving your qualification process to be centered around the consumer becomes obvious.
Key signs you’re doing it wrong
You know when you rip into a present a little too far and tear more than the packaging? That’s definitely not how to do lead qualification.
Here are some signs that your sales team is doing it all wrong:
- Reluctant prospects
- Inconsistent responses
- No valuable information
If they don’t sound keen, maybe they’re just not that into you. Ask them to expand on their answer rather than grilling them – great salespeople create conversations with feeling, not fillers.
Okay, so their response doesn’t paint a coherent picture. You can’t make sense of what they want, is it time to consider that your questions are prompting untrue answers?
No valuable information
Unwilling prospects tend to be guarded. This brings us to a fork in the road – either they aren’t the right fit or they don’t trust you. At this point, be human and get real with them.
Getting all of that right, for all of your sales leads, is no easy task. But it’s far harder not to.
Where to From Here?
Our Melbourne-based call centre integrates with our lead generation service to qualify your leads and drive conversion up to 20% higher for our clients since its introduction.
Not bad, hey. Still itching to know more about qualifying?
Understand marketing qualified leads, how to prioritise them and create a plan for leads your sales team reject, with our download here.