Almost 75% of leads are not qualified for transfer to sales.
Let that sink in.
Three-fourths of your lead generation activities are not yielding results. This is perhaps the most painful thing any marketer will have to endure.
But, why do leads not convert? What causes the bottleneck?
To begin with, lead generation is not an arrow-straight road that can be navigated blindly. It is more likely a tough terrain where the landscape keeps changing dynamically.
If you want to solve the ultimate problem of lead conversion, you have to go to the starting point where they are generated. A closer look at your lead qualification process should give the answer.
The Importance Of Lead Qualification Process
Lead qualification is the application of certain filters to measure the willingness and readiness of a customer to buy your product or service. It helps in identifying or scoring leads that have the maximum possibility of becoming paying customers.
Lead qualification is critical to both sales and marketing teams. It gives proper direction to the marketing team and also helps save time and effort for the sales teams. In the process, it also delivers three strategic benefits:
i) Facilitates sales qualified lead
If a proper lead qualification process is in place, sales folks will be able to strike meaningful conversations, discovery calls, and nudge the lead down the funnel towards conversion.
ii) Help keep marketing spending in check
Marketers have to spend hefty budgets on paid and organic campaigns to bring in leads. If those leads do not result in sales, the resources are going to waste.
Lead qualification ensures that marketing efforts are focused on campaigns and activities that yield leads that have the maximum potential to convert into deals.
iii) Maximizes close rates and boosts revenue
Qualified leads have the maximum potential of converting into deals. They make work easier for sales teams. As a result, revenue also increases as sales folks are able to drive more conversations with the right set of prospects.
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Top 12 questions that will help you qualify sales leads faster and better
As mentioned earlier, sales lead qualification is not an arrow-straight road. There is no shortcut to it either. You will have to filter each lead to ensure maximum productivity for sales teams.
If you are yet to start a lead qualification process, these questions will help you get started.
1. How did you hear about us?
If you have tried buying a product or a service online, you must have stumbled upon this question. It is perhaps one of the most popular questions used in sales lead qualification.
Why is this question popular? The source through which a lead comes in helps gauge its quality prima facie. Modern-day customers consult the internet, review forums, social media handles, and several other sources before they decide to check out a product.
According to TrustRadius Buyer-Vendor Survey 2018, more than 40% of customers refer to at least 5 sources before making a purchase decision.
A traditional and closer channel, like product website, referrals, user-review websites, vendor website, etc. gives high-quality leads. You can assign a higher lead score to leads that originate from these sources.
2. What are you looking for?
This question might seem like a no-brainer. However, it is critical that you ask this question. It helps you place a finger at the exact offering that your prospect is looking for.
The prospect’s response will help you understand if their expectations closely match your offerings. Further, you can extend this question to involve additional points like:
- What kind of features are you looking for in the product?
- What will make you buy the product right away?
- What other terms would you use to refer to the product?
If the prospect’s response and your business offering are in sync, it means you have a hot lead that can be immediately handed over to the sales team. On the other hand, it can be disqualified to save time for all.
3. What made you attracted to our brand?
89% of marketers say that brand awareness is their top goal. Do you know why? It is easier to convince and convert a prospect who already knows the brand. It saves the effort to create awareness from scratch and why the brand is better than its competitors.
But, there are various reasons that make a prospect feel attracted to a brand. To begin with, the branding consistency. Or it could be the same values that the business advocates and the prospect support. In fact, 71% of consumers buy from brands that share the same values as they do (Small Biz Trends).
It is exactly for this reason that we should try to understand why customers feel attracted to a brand. If the prospect shares the same values and logos as the business, then the chances of conversion are higher.
4. Are you a decision-maker?
A typical B2B sales transaction will have at least 5 to 6 people involved in the decision-making process. It is complicated and more focused than a B2C transaction. This makes a B2B lad difficult to qualify. One cannot easily disqualify it or pass it over to the sales team.
Hence, the need to ask “Are you a decision-maker?” decision-makers are folks who have the authority to approve budgets, take a decision on what kind of product to purchase, and determine the timeline within which the sales transaction must be completed.
A lead that has the decision-maker as the person of contact is a hot lead. If the lead does not have decision-making authority, it should be given second priority, only in a worst-case scenario, that is when other lead qualifying filters disqualify it should the lead be discarded.
5. What solutions have you tried in the past?
The purpose of this question is this: ‘Are your prospects hunting for a solution for the first time or do they have prior experience looking for a similar offering?’
If they have tried solutions previously and were not satisfied with them, they are probably looking to find it in your product or service. This can help you understand where there is a proper fit between expectations and offerings. You may also be able to introduce unique features or offerings that can solve their problems head-on. That will quicken the lead qualification process and take the prospect closer to conversion.
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6. What problem are you trying to solve?
Every product or service aspires to solve a problem or a bunch of problems for its target audience. It is the problem or the pain points that make them look for a solution. That solution could be your business offering.
The question “What problem are you trying to solve?” helps understanding if your offering is a good fit for the problem that the lead is trying to solve. If yes, they will use the same terminologies, the literature, and the phrases that your target audience frequently uses.
Such a lead will also have a clear understanding of what to look for in an ideal product. They will be able to measure the goodness of your offering easily. Ultimately, this will make it easier for the sales folks to engage in a conversation and convert them into customers easily.
7. Have you tried any of our competitors?
While every business strives to create a path of its own, it is always important to keep an eye on the competition. What are they offering? How good are their offerings? How different are they from you?
No industry can have two players who provide identical offerings. There will be subtle differences that make customers choose one above the other. Understanding those subtle differences will go a long way in measuring the potential of a lead.
Furthermore, if a prospect has tried any of your competitors, it means that they are actively looking to settle for a final choice. This in turn makes them a hot lead worth pursuing a deal.
8. What is the highest budget you can afford?
Budget is one of the 5 key criteria in lead qualification. Most often customers decide not to proceed with a product or service if they find it to be priced above their budget threshold.
Although it is a valid point to lose a lead, too many leads being lost due to high pricing indicates serious problems at the lead-gen stage. It is better to ask and understand a ballpark of their spend threshold before qualifying the lead.
Understanding the highest budget that the customer is willing to spend helps navigate the sales discussion in that direction. In fact, studies suggest that 58% of prospects want to talk price on the very first call.
If the pricing is agreeable for the lead, then it saves a lot of time and effort for the sales team.
9. What are your priorities?
Although your marketing message to a specific target audience is uniform and conveys the same offering each lead will have their own priorities. There is also the spending capacity (as discussed above) that will influence their priorities.
Here is why understanding a lead’s priorities are important. It tells the severity of their problems and how keen they are to solve them. If the priorities of the lead and your business offerings match, then the lead has a surefire possibility of converting into a deal.
The priorities of the lead will also influence the timeline within which they want to start using your product or services. Ideally, a lead that wants to implement the product or service immediately or without further delay should be considered for immediate conversion.
10. What metrics will you measure success with?
In the business world, success means different things for different stakeholders. Understanding how your prospects perceive success and the metrics that they use to measure can make a world of difference to your lead qualification process.
To begin with, it helps establish if the lead can be impressed with your product or service. You can use the specific metrics to quantify the results it can provide for the lead. Furthermore, it also ensures that both the parties are going to measure success using the same metrics which will result in faster conversion.
11. Are you looking for an out-of-box solution or a personalized one?
There are two types of business offerings — out-of-box solutions, mostly like SaaS products. These cannot be customized beyond an extent and are to be used in an ‘as is condition.
There are also highly customizable solutions that allow the customer to create a bespoke solution fitted to their specific needs. This type of product or service will need dedicated development.
Small and medium-scale businesses tend to lean towards out-of-box solutions. They are readily available, can be implemented without delay, and also are lighter on the budget. Additionally, they do not need a steep learning curve.
Larger enterprises, on the other hand, require custom-built software products and services that will address their problems in a bespoke manner. Most often these solutions cannot be used for any other purpose.
If you are providing an out-of-box solution, then your lead should also be interested in the same. If they are looking for a custom solution, then it should be labeled as a disqualified lead.
Bringing it all together
Lead qualification shortens the gap between your prospect of becoming a paying customer. It saves time and budget for marketing. For sales teams, it converts into better sales conversations that will help boost the bottom line.
So, how are you going to deal with your lead qualification? Do you know of any other means that can help qualify leads?