A step-by-step guide for lead qualification

A pool of qualified leads is what it takes for companies to achieve their goals and seek long-term sales prospects. Learn the process of lead qualification in this blog.

A step-by-step guide for lead qualification

A pool of qualified leads is what it takes for companies to achieve their goals and seek long-term sales prospects. However, finding qualified leads is no child’s play. While 61% of marketers are finding it difficult to generate quality leads, 67% of sales are lost because the sales reps couldn’t qualify the leads before taking them down the funnel. If you don’t want to fall in that bracket, we will explain how to qualify leads and a few important lead qualification frameworks for your business.

Here is a quick look at everything we cover in this blog.

  • What are qualified leads?
  • What is the lead qualification process?
  • How to qualify leads? - A step by step guide
  • Why do you need to qualify your leads?
  • Conclusion

What are qualified leads?

Qualified leads are the potential customers who have qualified certain criteria. In other words, the leads are willing to provide their information or have shown interest in buying.

Qualified leads definition

What is the lead qualification process?

Lead qualification is a process of gauging the potential customer’s ability in terms of willingness and finance to purchase your product or service. This process begins with a pool of leads generated through various channels or efforts such as marketing, sales, acquisition, and product teams. Sometimes, these leads can be generated through your web forms.

In sales organisations, various types of leads could be unqualified leads, marketing qualified leads, sales qualified leads, product qualified leads, conversion qualified leads.

  • Unqualified leads: These are the leads that haven’t been nurture enough.
  • Marketing qualified leads (MQLs): These are the leads who are qualified to receive marketing communications (such as offers and discounts, email campaigns, etc.
  • Sales qualified leads (SQLs): These are the leads that are ready to connect with your sales team to initiate the sales process.
  • Product qualified leads (PQLs): These are leads that have shown interest in your offerings by signing up for free trial or freemium subscription.
  • Conversion qualified leads (CQLs):  These are the leads who have converted through website or company related channels by submitting web forms or by pressing a CTA button.

These different types of leads are fed into a lead qualification framework and are identified as qualified or disqualified leads. The qualified leads enter the sales process whereas disqualified leads are nurtured through lead nurturing strategies.

Lead qualification process

How to qualify leads? - A step by step by guide

So, we understood the lead qualification process but how exactly does it work?

Here is a step-by-step guide that helps you in qualifying your leads.

Pre-requisites for lead qualification

Establishing an ICP

Before commencing the lead qualification process, it is critical to be aware of the ideal customer profile (ICP). ICP is typically defined with the help of company size, IPO status, revenue, industry, location, and other details of your potential buyer. ICP helps in determining whether the leads can be moved forward in the sales cycle.

Lead scoring

A lead scoring system or model is a process of assigning a numerical value to the leads based on the actions they have taken. This helps in determining the status of the lead and their value to the company. Here is a sample lead scoring model.

When a user visits the pricing page, you can score them 20 points. If the user has downloaded an ebook along with visiting the pricing page, you can score 20+5 points and so on. Based on this score, you can determine in which stage of sales cycle the lead is in. The higher the score, the better qualified the lead is. However, the lead scoring is not one-size-fits-all. It can vary from one company to another based on their objectives, targets, selling strategies, marketing strategies, and sales activities.

Three steps to lead qualification

After establishing ICP and your lead scoring model, there are three important steps for lead qualification: research, outreach, and qualification. Let’s dive into each step.

Research

Research is an initial step in lead qualification. It helps in determining organisation-level information and how you can pursue the next course of action. Here is a list of information you will need to find out in your initial research.

  • Funding information
  • Company details: Location, headquarter, objective, vision, mission, number of employees
  • Positive growth updates: New product launch, C-suite employee news, recruitment updates
  • Negative signals: Layoffs

Outreach

Irrespective of how well you have conducted research about the company, there will be information that can be given away only by the leads. That’s exactly why you need to have a strategy and planning for lead outreach.

The outreach stage in lead qualification helps you get specific information about the leads regarding their current situations, requirements, and their future plans. Here are a few questions that can be asked to your leads to get the required information.

  • What are your objectives?
  • What product or services do you offer?
  • What is the problem you are facing?
  • What is your budget to resolve the problem?
  • Who is the person who would make the final decision about purchases?
  • How long do you have to implement this solution?

This list is certainly not exhaustive. However, it can provide you with the required information about your lead’s requirements.

There are a few lead qualification frameworks that can assist you in the process.

BANT

B = Budget; A=Authority; N=Need; T=Timeline

BANT is a lead qualification framework that allows the sales representative to ask pre-determined questions and narrow down the leads based on the budget, authority, interest, and urgency. A lead is considered qualified if they meet at least three elements of the BANT framework.

CHAMP

CH=Challenges, A=Authority; M=Money; P=Prioritisation

CHAMP lead qualification framework focuses more on the client’s challenges. The sales representatives ask questions about the challenges faced by the clients and let them know how the product can help them deal with it.

The framework also encourages the salesperson to understand the priorities of the customers and learn if the solution is considered as a “nice to have” or “need to have”. This helps in drafting a pragmatic plan to expedite the sales process.

MEDDIC

M=Metrics; E=Economic buyer; D=Decision criteria; D=Decision process; I=Identify pain; C=Champions

Having been introduced in the 1990s, the MEDDIC framework is a more detailed lead qualification framework that determines what a customer is looking for in a product.

  • Metrics represent the true value your solution can offer to the client. In other words, it indicates the revenue implications and the bottom-line impact.
  • An economic buyer is a person who is the ultimate decision-maker about the purchases.
  • Decision criteria is the criteria of the company to choose you or not to choose you. (For example, what are you being measured against?).
  • The decision process is about how the decisions are made in your client’s company. This helps you understand your required course of action for closing the deal.
  • Identifying pain is a process of understanding the prospect’s pain points.
  • Champion is your ally from inside your client’s organisation. Provide them all the information they need to advocate for you.

Qualification

With in-depth research, lead scoring techniques, lead qualification frameworks and strategies, you are not set to determine if a lead is likely to convert into a prospect and move into the sales cycle or not.

If they are qualified, push them to the sales cycle. If they are disqualified, don’t discard the leads. Keep nurturing them. When circumstances, priorities, and timelines change, they can convert into qualified leads. Keep an eye out for any such changes in their organisation.


Why do you need to qualify your leads?

The process of qualifying leads can benefit you multifold in closing the deals, winning the opportunities, and fast-tracking the sales cycle. Some of the benefits are:

  • Saves time and effort by identifying and providing you with worthy prospects.
  • Enhances closing rates and revenue generation by shortlisting the important prospects.
  • Aids personalisation of your selling process by providing the paramount details of your leads.

Conclusion

Now that you are aware of how to qualify sales leads, buckle up for the ride. Start evaluating, analysing, and qualifying leads in a systematic manner with lead scoring models and lead qualification frameworks.

If you need assistance in streamlining your lead qualification and sales process, talk to us and we will help you.

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