Sales executives have a lot of priorities. One of the most important involves having the right information on the number of sales leads ready or not ready to convert or those that postponed purchasing decisions. Such knowledge or information can help them improve a customer onboarding experience.
Unfortunately, finding such information is not always straightforward. There is no perfect time nor chance that your lead will come and tell you whether or not they are ready to buy. That is why you must qualify your sales leads.
Qualifying your sales leads is an aspect of a business’s sales cycle directly responsible for improving conversion and productivity. By connecting with leads, asking them questions, or building relationships, you can figure out whether they are ready to buy or are just window shopping.
In this post, we will share the best practices you can use to qualify your leads better.
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Why is it important to qualify your sales leads?
Lead qualification, as we commonly know it, is where the sales and marketing team separate the non-interested leads from those with the potential to buy. After which, the sales team engages with the latter through a lead nurturing process and helping the prospect convert.
Sales executives use different criteria to qualify or disqualify leads. It may involve looking at their interest, services, customers, or competitors. The result is sales executives will spend their days and time better on customers that are more likely to convert.
Benefits derived by qualifying your sales leads
Studies show that 75% of your ideal customer or leads will not convert. Lead qualification, therefore, helps a company to:
- Save money and resources
There is usually a lot at risk when seeking a lead. If your prospect sees no use of your product/services, it will show on your lead qualification checklist. This will ensure that you only go after the hottest viable lead.
In the end, your outreach process will be more targeted, increasing the possibility of your efforts resulting in a sale and reducing unnecessary waste of time and resources.
- Improves conversion
One of the best ways to improve conversion is to stop following every lead you generate. It will make you look salesly and divert your attention from better opportunities.
The lead qualification process helps you identify high-value prospects and when a market-fit lead is ready to be engaged and prioritize the right lead quickly and improve conversion.
- Improves relationship with customers
Relationships are one of the solid foundations for the success of a business. When you are trying to qualify a lead by asking questions or getting their feedback, you are also establishing a relationship with them.
Eventually, the connection built based on that mutual trust and the value that your product will bring them will cause improved future interactions.
- Improves your product positioning strategies or process
Qualifying your sales leads also helps improve how you position your product to the customer. This is made possible through product differentiation.
Say you have a product ideal for both individuals and organizations. You can’t use the same sales strategies when targeting these two different prospects or leads.
Your product also needs to be positioned differently from competitors. If the competitor is rewarding customers with discounts or thirty-day free trials, you may have to use another method based on the data you collected on your leads and fill the missing gap.
Here’s how Canva positions its product differently for different customers.
- It helps fine-tune your marketing activities and sales priorities
50% of qualified leads a business generates aren’t ready to buy immediately. Add to all the noise and competition in the online sphere, and you have the challenge of sending the right information to make consumers invest in your business.
Lead qualification helps you identify the right information for your target audience and nurture them to your sales funnel. By learning how to qualify your leads, you can improve your content marketing efforts and priorities that can bring you the biggest results so that your leads convert better.
- Improves your ROI
More time invested in quality leads means a higher return on investments. The lead qualification process helps you get better at lead scoring, use better follow-up methods, improves sales workload, and better align your marketing efforts to the right people. The result is an improvement in lead acquisition and conversion.
How to qualify your leads?
It is worth noting that your process of qualifying sales leads shouldn’t be tied to targets, commissions, or an automated system, but something that would improve your overall business function.
This will ensure that your sales rep remains productive and focuses on bringing the right lead and not just meeting targets. Here are the ways to qualify your sales leads.
- Find your niche market
When your product targets a large group of people, it isn’t easy to know who your target market is. Thus, there is the possibility of coming up with a low-quality list of potential customers.
To weed out such customers, create a list or prospecting plan based on the knowledge you have on your product or service. Here are factors you may consider when choosing a niche and tap on the right prospect.
- Business model
- Geographical location
- Organizational size
Having uncovered your target market, you can craft the right marketing messages to attract the right customers. Identifying your niche or market helps channel your efforts to the best leads straight from the start.
Remember to iterate, refresh, and update your niche as your business expands and new markets are added.
- Create buyer personas
Once you have found your target audience, it is time to deliver a value-added proposition by creating the right sales package that will help nurture your leads, address their pain points, speak of what they need, and help them take action with your product.
This will only be made possible by creating your buyer persona. To find what your ideal customer looks like, consider:
- Digging into your top, middle, and bottom of the funnel and profile your ideal customer.
- Geographical location: where you target leads within a particular region or location.
- Demographic: you look at age, gender, or sex.
- Behavioral: You look at your customer’s buying patterns, decision-making, and brand awareness.
From the data you collect, you may identify your ideal customer through their best and worst characteristics and engage your preferred customer.
- Find the ultimate decision-makers
The B2B decision-making process can be pretty long and may involve several people. Finding the right person who can push for decisions can shorten the time to secure a deal.
Aim to target and find emails of C-level executives, especially if you’re speaking to a large firm or mid-size company with over 100 employees.
Other times, you may need to convince six to seven people who are in the decision-making process. If you are not sure who the decision-makers are, ask who has the purchasing rights.
Therefore, research extensively, so that you can approach these decision-makers with personalized offers that would help them buy from you!
- Find out if they have a need and budget for the product
Money is usually an important factor that determines the success of most organizational functions, including whether a sales process will push through. With the pandemic and looming recession, most organizations are already postponing purchasing decisions. They may only invest in a product when there is a need for it or it fits their budget.
Your chances of success lie in understanding the customer’s issue or need and positioning your solution to fulfill their demand. If you encounter any objections, demonstrate the product’s value and differentiate it from solutions the competitor may be offering.
While discovering if there is a need or budget, inquire:
- What other solutions are they using or have been using?
- If they were satisfied with the previous vendor.
- Their strength and weakness.
- What they hope to achieve in a new vendor.
- Their ideal price range for similar solutions.
Another way of assessing whether your lead has a budget is to study their business profile and estimate its economic strength.
On AngelList or LinkedIn, you can find data on average revenue and employees’ salary ranges. These can help you gauge whether a business can invest in your products or services.
- Find out if it is the best time to sell to your lead
While there may be no ideal time to do something, discovering your prospect’s timelines might help you know when they are willing or looking to buy or their level of commitment to your product.
Here’s how to find if your timing is right.
- Ask the lead if they are still researching or where they are in the buyer’s journey.
- Inquire from the lead if they have any need or obligations in the coming future for your product.
- Ask them for a time frame or when they will be ready to buy if they are not ready now.
- Inquire of other factors affecting their timelines.
- Inquire when they expect to see results.
Just don’t disqualify a lead if they are not ready to buy. Organizations do work on different timelines. Rather, make a note and follow-up on a later date.
- Adjust your process to conform with the situation
A lead may only find one or two solutions from your entire product package useful. In such a case, you can’t force the customer to buy the complete package but may adjust your costs and package to suit their needs.
By adjusting your solutions to fit a lead’s need, it shows you care and can do wonders in improving the relationship you are building.
- Study the competitors
Naturally, it would help if you treated your leads competitors as also your competitors. This will help you present better solutions or improve your product positioning by identifying what they offer that your lead is not delivering.
Alternatively, you can also ask the lead what they think makes the competitors more successful than them.
Whatever feedback they give, use it to make the lead see the areas that the competitor is doing better and what your product can do to help them beat the competitor. This way, you will be one step ahead to inking a deal.
- Look at the lead’s past solutions
Sometimes, to better position your product or influence a lead to make a purchase decision may require digging into the past solution the lead has previously used or tried. From that data, you can tweak your solutions to fit a lead’s need.
But, if your solutions cannot meet their needs, you won’t leave them empty-handed. The data gathered will help you understand your audience’s behavior and use that information to provide your other prospects and leads solutions that might work for them in the future.
- Find the challenges they are facing
Every business has some common hurdles they are facing. Your lead is not an exception. Identifying limitations stopping your lead from getting into buyer mode will help in your planning process and crush any problem that may show up when working with the lead. You may also use your lead’s challenges to convince them why your product exists and subscribe to it.
- Ask the lead about their long-term goals
At some time in your evaluation and relationship-building, you will discuss with the lead about their long-term goals. As you ask or discuss what they hope to achieve in the long run, you will discover solutions that may work for them in the future rather than now.
Thus, you can approach them later with these solutions or show them how your current solutions can help them reach their long-term goals. This is great for building long-term relationships and getting repeat business rather than continuously looking for new prospects.
Over to you
Even with all the processes, one can use to qualify sales leads, you and your team must still do your part and close a deal. Businesses must also be ready to adapt to the changes taking place. Whether they are organization goals or market trends, your lead qualification process should change to suit the current scenario.
Altogether, when your business can identify and pursue market-qualified leads, it is more likely to improve conversion and ultimately ROI. Besides, it will make your sales team more productive when they pursue high-quality leads instead of engaging random people.
About the Author
Adela Belin is a content marketer and blogger at Writers Per Hour. She is passionate about sharing stories with the hope to make a difference in people’s lives and contribute to their personal and professional growth. Find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.