Meeting a new lead is exciting. It’s probably one of the most exciting parts of the sales process. This person or business could be your next big sale, and bring with it all of the benefits for your business. The thing is, are they genuinely the right fit for your business, and are you the right fit for them? This is where you need to learn how to qualify sales leads. You’ll welcome it when it’s a standard part of your sales process. It’s one of the easiest ways to increase sales rates.
What Does Qualifying Sales Leads Mean?
The process of qualifying a sales lead, or sales qualification, is the method that businesses employ to decide whether a lead is likely to turn into a prospect or not. It’s also the process of seeing not only if you’re a good fit for them but if they’re a good fit for you. It’s an opportunity to make sure that, should the lead turn into a client, everyone is on the same page and the business relationship is kept straightforward.
Qualifying Sales Leads Is Important
A proper sales qualification process naturally leads to a better conversion rate. A better conversion rate leads to more sales, and of course, more sales leads to more revenue. Sales qualification also ensures that your team is aiming at the right people or businesses. The last thing that you want is for your sales team to expend time and effort on leads that are regularly turning out to be the wrong fit for you.
Sales qualification can be likened to taking aim at a target and being sure you’re aiming at the right target before pulling the trigger. Without sales qualification you’re waving the gun at any target, pulling the trigger, and hoping for the best.
By qualifying leads you give your sales team the opportunity to move on from unqualified leads, rather than feeling that they have to pursue every one. This gives them back some precious time and allows them to focus purely on those leads that are more likely to convert. This naturally reduces the size of the market that you’re targeting. That can certainly feel scary but it shouldn’t, especially when you consider that by doing so you’re going to drastically improve your conversion rates.
The sales qualification process also helps your business in a more holistic way. You get to know your customers better, learning precisely what their issues and problems are, and how your products or services can help them. These more detailed, personalized pitches foster a better sense of your brand and help potential leads identify with you.
So sales qualification improves your conversion rate, but it also reduces negative factors such as churn and returns. When a customer knows what they’re going to receive and they know that it’s going to be a good fit for them, they’re far less likely to leave your service or return a product.
It’s also important to note that the sales qualification typically starts the moment that a lead enters into one of your sales funnel stages, but doesn’t necessarily have to be at the top of your funnel. Given that people enter the funnel at various stages of consideration.
How To Qualify Sales Leads: A Step-By-Step Guide
We know that sales qualification is a helpful process, now it’s time to action that process and begin qualifying leads. The following step-by-step guide takes you on the sales qualification journey. It’s important to remember that this is just a guide. Every business will need to ask its own specific sales qualification questions and follow its own process, but this is a great place to start.
The sales qualification can take place in a number of different ways, sometimes over the phone, sometimes face-to-face, but often the process takes place via email. It’s convenient but does require your sales team to adhere to some typical sales email best practices.
You’ll note that there’s a great deal of information collected during the sales qualification process. If you’re a single person running a small business, a growing business, or a large corporation, you’ll need somewhere centralized and accessible to store all of this information. That’s usually covered by a sales engagement platform, CRM, or even a project management tool. However, if you decide to store it, make sure that it’s used regularly and that your team all know how to use it.
Refer To Your Buyer Personas Or Profiles
The first step is to have it clear in your, and your sales team’s mind, precisely who you’re looking for. This means digging out your buyer personas or profiles and revisiting your ideal customer. If you don’t already have a document that details this, now is the time to create one. You can do so by asking yourself a series of questions:
- Who do we want to work with?
- What makes them our perfect buyers?
- What do their finances look like?
- What are their pain points and current challenges?
- What sector is their business?
- Who is the decision maker?
Asking these questions provides you with a working document that outlines your ideal customer. Referring back to this during the lead qualification process helps keep your focus honed.
Identify The Lead’s Pain Points
Each business or individual is different, and the issues that face them will be slightly different from other businesses that you’ve worked with. It’s part of the sales qualification process to identify precisely what those pain points are. The more detailed a response from your lead the more likely you are to be able to carefully nurture the relationship, address their issues, and close their business. The ideal lead will know precisely what their pain points are, and how they’d like them addressed.
Ascertain Their Budget
The all-important money question. Lots of people don’t like to provide a budget, because they feel that you’ll tailor your prices to match their top end. That’s definitely the case in some instances, but more often than not it’s a clear indication of whether they can afford your services. They might have a higher budget than your services, and that might offer you the opportunity to tailor a service to them. If it’s lower, then you can save everyone time by not pursuing the conversation any further.
Find Out If They’re A Decision Maker
Sometimes people delegate research to a person without the final say. A CEO might have asked one of their employees to do some research. That person likely won’t have the final yes or no power and will have to give feedback on your information. Where possible, you want to be having a conversation directly with the decision maker. This stops your pitch from getting lost in translation up the chain of command.
Put A Time To The Lead
Your time is valuable. You shouldn’t spend a great deal of time chasing leads for responses. The best and most qualified prospects will need your services quickly. They’re ready to purchase, they simply want to find a supplier. During initial conversations aim to establish a timeline to progress the conversation.
Assess Potential Challenges
Even if the lead has met everything that we’ve outlined above they can still remain unqualified. Typically this is because you’re just not the right fit for them. Usually, it’s because they simply cannot implement your products or services. You’re unable to provide a workable solution.
The other reason could be that they’re ready to start work with you but aren’t willing to help with implementation and expect you to simply walk in and arrange a solution. These situations need to be resolved before the lead can become qualified. The prospect needs to be willing to uphold their side of the bargain and put some effort in.
Qualifying leads shouldn’t be seen as an optional part of the sales process. You should aim for it to be a standard, mandatory part of your process. Without it, you stand to chase the wrong leads, or you might end up working with the wrong clients.
- Aim to qualify leads as early as possible.
- If you’re working with a larger team make sure to document everything in a CRM.
- Tailor your qualification questions to your business.
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