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Lead Qualification Process: 7 Easy Steps for Sales Success

What is lead qualification?

Generating leads is important, but collecting contacts is not enough.

Qualifying leads based on factors like their likelihood to purchase can help you save time and resources. It also helps you build trust and tailor your pitch.

In this article, we will provide you with a 7-step process to qualify leads, questions to ask your potential customers, and tools to help you qualify leads faster.

What is lead qualification?

Lead qualification involves assessing and ranking potential customers based on their likelihood of making a purchase. This process leverages details about the prospect to gauge the probability and timing of a sale conversion.

What is lead qualification?
What is lead qualification?

Lead qualification goes beyond traditional in-person strategies and includes online channels. Digital platforms like websites, emails, and social media provide ample data to filter potential leads.

Filtering leads is crucial to optimize resource allocation and enhance conversion rates. By focusing on potential customers more likely to make a purchase, marketing and sales teams can minimize wastage and ensure a targeted approach.

What is a sales qualified lead?

A sales-qualified lead, a crucial stage in the lead qualification stages, is a potential customer who shows interest in your offerings and aligns well with your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). This alignment indicates a high likelihood of making a purchase. Once identified, these qualified leads progress to the next stage of the sales funnel, demonstrating their readiness for the subsequent sales steps of the process.

What is a sales qualified lead?
What is a sales qualified lead?

The 7-step lead qualification process to qualify sales leads (and close more deals)

Creating a fully automated lead qualification process involves developing a repeatable, reliable, and partially automated procedure. This procedure should entail multiple steps that your sales team can execute. By doing this, you can ensure accurate lead qualification and improve your conversion rates.

1. Make (or revise) a profile of your ideal consumer.

A perfect customer profile (ICP) defines the characteristics of your ideal customer, including demographics, company details, pain points, goals, and objections.

To qualify leads, it’s crucial to understand your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). By comparing potential leads to this profile, you can quickly determine whether they fit your ideal customer criteria. Moreover, ICP helps improve your sales strategies by making your outreach more relevant and timely.

It is crucial to frequently review and update your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) because markets are constantly changing, trends are evolving, and what made a perfect customer six months ago may not be the same today. Their requirements may have shifted even if they still fit your ideal customer profile. Therefore, closely monitoring your ICP and making necessary adjustments to keep it up-to-date is essential.

2. Determine the lead scoring criteria

Once you have a clear understanding of the attributes of your ideal customer, it becomes essential to set up lead-scoring criteria to help you with the qualification process. Essentially, you need to identify the criteria that make a lead suitable for your business. Use a qualification framework to structure your assessment efficiently.

To ensure accurate scoring, you should consider both demographic and behavioural data. You can use analytics and conversations to determine important criteria. Assign numerical values and establish threshold scores for each sales pipeline stage. This helps in assessing sales performance and making informed decisions.

Examples of lead criteria include:

  • Budget
  • The size of the company
  • Industry
  • Geographic location
  • Job title and purchasing authority of the prospect
  • Social media activity (likes, retweets, and followers)
  • Website Visitors
  • Content downloads
  • Meetings scheduled (via Calendly)
  • Demo requests

It’s a good idea to create a checklist or scorecard for your sales team. This should include evaluations such as the level of urgency to purchase, the lead’s current tech stack, the source of the lead, and their ability to make a purchasing decision. Using scorecards ensures consistency in your team’s approach to lead scoring.

You can add questions to a marketing form connected to Calendly Routing. This way, scheduling pages will only be shown to leads who meet the qualifications, and your reps will have all the information they need before the meeting.

Determine the lead scoring criteria
Lead qualification process

3. Gather Lead

The third step in the lead qualification process is to gather leads from various sources and channels. You can use both inbound and outbound lead generation strategies to attract and capture leads.

Inbound lead generation is when you create and distribute valuable content that educates, entertains, or inspires your target audience and encourages them to reach out to you. Some examples of inbound lead generation channels are:

  • Blog posts
  • E-books
  • White papers
  • Case studies
  • Infographics
  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Webinars
  • Newsletters
  • Social Media Marketing
  • SEO

Outbound lead generation is when you actively identify and reach out to prospects who may not be aware of your product or service. Some examples of outbound lead generation channels are:

  • Cold emails
  • Cold calls
  • Direct mail
  • Events
  • Trade shows
  • Advertising

You can use tools like Zapier to connect your lead generation software and automate your lead capture and management workflows.

4. Research leads

The fourth step in the lead qualification process is to research your leads and gather more information about them. This will help you understand their needs, challenges, goals, and motivations and tailor your sales pitch accordingly.

You can use various sources and methods to research your leads, such as:

  • Your CRM and marketing automation platforms, where you can access the lead’s contact information, lead score, engagement history, etc.
  • Your website analytics, where you can track the lead’s behavior, interests, preferences, etc.
  • Your social media platforms, where you can monitor the lead’s activity, comments, reviews, etc.
  • Your email marketing platforms, where you can measure the lead’s open, click, and reply rates, etc.
  • Your chatbot and live chat platforms, where you can interact with the lead and ask questions, etc.
  • Your webinar and event platforms, where you can invite the lead and collect feedback, etc.
  • External sources, such as the lead’s website, blog, social media profiles, online reviews, news articles, etc.

You can use tools like SimilarWeb or Typeform to research and qualify leads faster and easier.

Research leads
Lead qualification process

5. Qualifying questions to ask your leads

The fifth step in the lead qualification stages involves asking qualification questions to your leads. These qualifying questions are pivotal in determining whether a lead is a good fit for your product or service and possesses a high likelihood of buying. They are instrumental in gathering more information about the lead’s needs, challenges, goals, and motivations, thereby allowing you to tailor your sales pitch more effectively to their specific circumstances.

Qualifying questions to ask your leads include the following:

  • What problem are you hoping to solve?
  • Do you have another answer to this problem right now??
    • If not, why are you attempting to solve the problem now?
  • What objectives do you hope to achieve with this solution?
  • What is your best timetable for the implementation frame?
  • Who is the final decision-maker on this purchase?
  • What is the cost of this option in your budget?

Qualifying questions can be found through a Google search, but they are not comprehensive. The questions mainly centre around important factors such as budget, timeline, and decision-makers. Sales professionals have used these factors for years to determine which leads are worth qualifying and will result in the highest ROI.

6. Score leads

The sixth step in the lead qualification process is to score your leads based on their answers to your qualification questions. This will help you rank them and prioritize the ones who are most ready to buy.

You are able to use a straightforward scoring system, such as:

  • Hot leads: These are the leads with a high fit and interest and are ready to buy. They have a clear need or problem, budget, authority, and short timeline. They should be contacted immediately and moved to the next sales cycle stage.
  • Warm leads: These are leads with a moderate fit and interest who are considering buying. They have a vague or emerging need or problem, a tentative budget and authority, and a flexible timeline. They should be nurtured and followed up with relevant and personalized content and offers.
  • Cold leads: These are the leads that have a low fit and interest and are not interested in buying. They have no need, problem, budget, authority, or timeline. They should be disqualified and removed from your sales pipeline.

You can use tools like HubSpot or Salesforce to automate your lead scoring and segmentation process and integrate it with your CRM and marketing automation platforms.

7. Review lead data and refine

The seventh and final step in the lead qualification process is to review your lead data and refine your lead qualification criteria and process. This will help you improve your lead qualification efficiency and effectiveness and adapt to market, product, and customer changes.

Reviewing your lead data involves analyzing your leads’ characteristics, behaviour, responses, scores, conversion rates, etc. You can use various metrics and KPIs to measure your lead qualification performance, such as:

  • Lead volume: The number of leads generated during a specific timeframe.
  • Lead quality: The percentage of leads that meet your qualification standards.
  • Lead conversion rate: The percentage of leads that transition into customers.
  • Lead velocity: The time it takes for a lead to move through the sales cycle.
  • Lead cost: The cost of acquiring and qualifying a lead.
  • Lead ROI: The return on investment of your lead generation and qualification efforts.

Refining your lead qualification criteria and process involves updating your ICP, revising your lead scoring criteria, improving your lead gathering and research methods, asking better qualification questions, adjusting your lead scoring system, and enhancing your lead review and refinement practices.

You can use tools like [Google Analytics] or [Tableau] to analyze your lead data and visualize your lead qualification performance. You can also use tools like [SurveyMonkey] or [Typeform] to collect feedback from your leads and customers and refine your lead qualification criteria and process.

Signs for Lead Disqualification

Not all leads are worth pursuing. Some leads may not be a good fit for your product or service, may not have a high likelihood of buying, or may not generate a high return on investment. These leads should be disqualified and removed from your sales pipeline.

Signs for Lead Disqualification
Signs for Lead Disqualification

While it’s important to identify potential customers, it’s equally crucial to recognize when a lead may not be a good fit. Here are some signs that it might be time to disqualify a lead:

  1. Lack of Purchase Authority If the person you’re speaking with doesn’t have the authority to make a purchase decision or isn’t involved in the buying process, they might not be a qualified lead. However, these individuals can sometimes act as internal champions who can connect you with the right decision-makers.
  2. Inability or Unwillingness to Set a Budget If a lead can’t or won’t set a budget, it could be a red flag. They might not have the decision-making power, the funds might be allocated elsewhere, or they might not see the value in your product. If they still can’t produce a budget despite your efforts to define the cost of their challenges and prove your solution’s ROI, it might be time to move on.
  3. Unsolvable Pain Points If your product or service can’t address the lead’s pain points, they won’t become customers. Even if they do, they’re likely to churn quickly. It’s important to be honest with yourself and the lead about whether your solution is truly the best choice for them.
  4. Mismatched Company Size: The size of a company can play a significant role in lead qualification. If you’re targeting startups and SMBs, an enterprise-level lead might not be a good fit, and vice versa. If a lead doesn’t match your ideal customer profile regarding company size, it might be best to let them go.
  5. Low Return on Investment The cost of acquiring a customer (CAC) should always be less than the customer’s lifetime value (CLV). If the CAC is too high compared to the CLV, it’s a clear sign that the lead should be disqualified.

Remember, not all leads are winners, and that’s okay. By recognizing when to disqualify a lead, you can focus your efforts on those with the most potential, ultimately improving your sales success.

Popular lead qualification frameworks and strategies

There are several lead qualification frameworks and strategies that you can use to qualify your leads, such as:

  1. BANT: This stands for Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeline. It is a classic lead qualification framework that helps you assess the lead’s ability and readiness to buy.
  2. CHAMP: This stands for Challenges, Authority, Money, and Prioritization. It is a modern lead qualification framework that focuses on the lead’s challenges and priorities.
  3. MEDDPICC: This stands for Metrics, Economic Buyer, Decision Criteria, Decision Process, Identify Pain, Champion, and Competition. It is a comprehensive lead qualification framework covering all aspects of the buying process.
Popular lead qualification frameworks and strategies
Popular lead qualification frameworks and strategies

Tools that can help you qualify leads faster

To qualify leads faster, you must use the right tools for each process stage. Here are some of the best tools that can help you capture, engage, and convert your leads:

  • To capture leads: HubSpot and LinkedIn. These tools allow you to create forms, landing pages, and pop-ups to collect lead information. You can also use them to find and connect with prospects on social media.
  • To drive traffic, Use Facebook and Google. These platforms offer various advertising options to target and reach your ideal audience. You can create campaigns that drive traffic to your website or landing pages.
  • To customize your chatbot, use Manychat and Chatfuel. These tools allow you to create and customize chatbots for Facebook Messenger. You can use them to automate conversations, segment leads, and deliver personalized messages.
  • To host webinars and events: Demio and BigMarker. These tools help you create and host engaging webinars and online events. You can use them to educate your leads, demonstrate your value, and generate demand.
  • To email leads: Benchmark and Mailchimp. These tools enable you to create and send email campaigns to your leads. You can use them to nurture, educate, and persuade your leads to take action.
  • To text leads: TextMagic and SimpleTexting. These tools allow you to send and receive text messages to your leads. You can use them to confirm appointments, send reminders, and follow up.
  • To schedule meetings: Calendly and SavvyCal. These tools help you schedule meetings with your leads without the back-and-forth emails. You can use them to share your availability, sync your calendar, and automate confirmations.

There are many other tools that can help you with different aspects of lead generation, such as analytics, CRM, video, and more.

Tools that can help you qualify leads faster
Tools that can help you qualify leads faster

Wrap Up!

Lead qualification is a critical step in the sales process. It helps you identify the leads that are most likely to become customers and focus your efforts on them. By following the 7-step lead qualification process and using the right tools, you can improve your lead qualification efficiency and effectiveness and close more deals.

So, what are you waiting for? Start qualifying your leads today and see the difference it makes in your sales success! If you need further assistance, feel free to contact Tech-One. We’re here to help!

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Hi, I'm Colin! I'm passionate about helping your business grow. So are you ready for your success?

    About Colin EN

    About Colin

    I'm Colin, CEO of Tech-One, a leader in Vietnam's digital marketing landscape.

    My team and I excel at creating custom strategies that boost content reach, drive traffic, and deliver quick results.

    Get more web traffic now!

    Hi, I'm Colin! I'm passionate about helping your business grow. So are you ready for your success?

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