In theory, qualification identifies if a lead has buying intent, can buy our product, and has decision-making power. In reality, prospecting is more nuanced.
Remember, each organization has its own sales process—you need a framework that’s tailored to it. We’re here to help you with just that!
At the end of this guide, you’ll learn how to create your lead qualification checklist and apply it to your sales funnels. So, stick around, as we’ll be going over:
- What makes a lead or prospect “qualified?”
- Lead qualification checklist.
- Popular lead qualification frameworks.
What Makes a Lead Qualified?
We spend a lot of resources acquiring and converting leads into paying customers. Without a systemized approach to qualification, we’re left doing a spray and pray—going after the most leads and hoping for the best.
Although sales is a numbers game, we want both quantity and quality. A checklist helps us sift through the noise and find quality leads. These leads can be categorized into three types: Information, Marketing, and Sales Qualified Leads.
Information Qualified Leads (IQL)
Unless you’re already a well-established brand in your industry, your target audience may have little to no information about your business.
Research what they need, their pain points, and how you can offer immediate value. You can leverage cold emails to gauge their responses (or lack thereof).
Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL)
MQLs sit right around the middle of your sales funnel. These leads already show buying intent and understand how your products can help them solve their pain points.
More importantly, MQLs fit your ideal customer profile (ICP). Your organization should have communicated with these leads through email nurturing, live chat, or scheduled calls/demos.
Sales Qualified leads (SQL)
Sales-ready leads or SQLs are at the bottom of the sales funnel, primed for conversions. Both marketing and sales vet these leads as eligible for the next stage in your sales process.
Your team needs to determine if leads fit the right criteria before tagging them as SQL. To do this, most organizations refer to their lead qualification checklist.
Lead Qualification Checklist
You can qualify leads for your inbound and outbound marketing and sales efforts. A checklist helps both sales and marketing have a systemized understanding of a qualified lead.
Your checklist also segment leads into the right category (IQL, MQL, or SQL), helping your team craft the right strategy for each. Here’s a look at a checklist that applies to every business:
Does a Lead Fit Your Ideal Customer Profile and Buyer Personas?
An ideal customer profile (ICP) serves as an outline of your ideal client. Identifying your ICP helps you focus time and resources on your best prospects.
Meanwhile, a buyer persona illustrates an example of specific decision-makers within organizations you need to contact.
To figure out whether a lead fits your ICP, refer to the following factors:
- Industry: What industry your ideal client is in?
- Size: How large is the company? How many employees do they have?
- Location: Where is your client located geographically?
- Behavior: What are the actions during visits to your site or email communications?
- Budget: How much does your ideal client need to spend on your solutions?
Is There Buying Intent?
Do leads show buying intent, or do they just show interest in your product? There are several ways to get an answer. For example, your websites, blogs, or social media channels help you identify buying intent.
Did a lead download your latest case study or visit your article about solving “x pain point” multiple times? Have they opted into your newsletter? Or did they sign-up for a freemium trial?
Does a Lead Need Your Product?
Leads might want to use your product but can quickly make objections. There’s a big difference between wanting a product and needing it; needing relays a sense of urgency. To save time, qualify leads by asking these questions:
- What are your immediate short and long-term goals?
- What are the hurdles you could face toward achieving these goals?
- What are the challenges your organization is facing currently?
Once you know the answers to these questions, your team can identify whether your product or service can meet your leads’ needs. If it does, you can start talking about their budget.
Is there a Budget Allocated for Purchasing?
Pricing concerns are one of the main objections you must handle in any sales process. But you don’t want to be rude and ask, “Hey, can you really afford what I’m selling?” Instead, ask the following:
- What products are you currently using to solve “x pain points?” (gives you an idea of your competitors and how much a lead is spending on it)
- What is your ideal price range?
- Are you paying a reasonable price for your solution?
How Urgent is the Need for Solutions?
You want a sense of urgency to close sales fast. But, urgency coming from salespeople can come off as pushy. Instead, identify internal urgencies your leads might be facing.
Is there a quota they need to meet? Are they looking at a major change in their organizational processes? Are they already comparing vendors?
Answering these questions helps you gauge the urgency of your leads to find new solutions.
Are you Communicating with Decision-Makers?
A lead might show interest, but if you’re working in B2B sales, chances are, purchases need to be approved by executives or decision-makers. To ensure you’re talking to the right people, you can ask the following:
- Who should I speak with for discussions about solving X pain points?
- Who decides the final purchasing decision?
- Can you help point me in the right direction?
Finding Leads Using Popular Qualification Frameworks
Now that we have a checklist to help develop our lead qualification strategies let’s take a look at popular frameworks you can take inspiration from:
BANT stands for Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeline. As you can see, BANT streamlines our checklist for qualifying leads. Here’s a quick look at each element in the BANT framework:
- Budget: How much is a lead willing to spend on solutions?
- Authority: Are you talking to the ultimate decision-maker?
- Need: Does a lead urgently need your product or services?
- Timeline: How much time does a lead need to make a purchase?
CHAMP stands for Challenge, Authority, Money, and Prioritization. It’s a framework that focuses on the needs of your leads first and qualifying your product/service against those needs.
Unlike BANT, CHAMP puts authority first over the budget. Even if you’re not communicating with a decision-maker, you could use a lead as a bridge to eventually get to an authoritative figure.
MEDDICC is a framework that lets your team focus on a prospect’s purchasing journey. This method has more steps, making it a more robust approach to lead qualification. It takes into account:
- Economic Buyer
- Decisions Criteria
- Decision Process
- Implicate Pain
Qualifying leads is integral to any sales process and lets your team focus on those more likely to generate revenue. As a quick refresher, here’s a checklist you can refer to when qualifying:
- Does your lead fit your ICP?
- Do they show buying intent?
- Is there an urgent need for your solutions?
- Is there a budget allocated for purchasing solutions?
- Are you communicating with the right decision-maker?
No matter your framework, communicating with leads is best done through email marketing. That’s where Instantly comes in! Sign-up for free today!