Generating leads is critical to the vitality of any business. But are the leads you generate also viable prospects? Lead qualification can help you qualify leads and focus on quality prospects. Let’s take a closer look at the definition of lead qualification, as well as popular methods for shaping your lead qualification process.
What Is Lead Qualification?
Lead qualification is the process for determining whether a lead you’ve generated is also a viable prospect.
You might find that your lead generation activities attract a range of leads—some of whom may not be able to buy your product or service. So it’s important for businesses to develop a rigid lead qualification process that can differentiate between leads and prospects.
Lots of factors might determine whether a lead is a viable prospect. In fact, sales and marketing professionals use a range of techniques to gather that information throughout the lead qualification process.
The following general factors could affect a lead’s viability:
- Level of interest
- Timing and availability
- Existing contracts
- Business location
- Business size
- Available capital
Furthermore, another range of factors is specific to your business. For instance, let’s imagine that you sell a piece of live chat software. To find out whether your tool is right for them, you might need to understand the volume and type of traffic your leads generate.
To find this information, sales and marketing professionals need to use a range of techniques and methods, including qualifying questions and cold calls.
Most Popular Lead Qualification Methods
Let’s dive deeper into the most popular methods you can use to qualify your leads.
To monitor the behavior of leads and determine whether they’re viable prospects, some sales and marketing teams use automated programs powered by sophisticated marketing automation software.
For instance, these automated programs might send specific marketing collateral to a specific lead, then monitor whether he or she opened it. Points can be attributed to leads based on the activity they perform, and their scores can move them up or down in the sales funnel.
If you need to differentiate between a large volumes of leads, behavior tracking is a powerful tool that’s very popular with SaaS companies.
Some businesses decide that the best lead qualification method is to pick up the phone and start building direct relationships with their leads.
Talented salespeople capitalize on the opportunity to ask leads key questions and determine whether they’re viable prospects. This method is often very accurate, and it can kill two birds with one stone: It gives salespeople the opportunity to simultaneously qualify their leads and engage with them.
But direct engagement is sometimes difficult because leads might not pick up the phone, and salespeople have no direct access to the people who can answer their questions.
The BANT Method
A range of sales methodologies that help with the lead qualification process. One of the oldest and most trusted is the Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeline (BANT) method. This methodology gives salespeople four areas to focus on. To be considered a prospect, the lead must be a good fit in all four . Specifically, the lead should have the appropriate budget, the authority to sign-off on the deal, the need to pursue your solution, and a sensible timeframe for closing the deal. With all four of those boxes ticked, a lead will almost always become a prospect.
Lead Qualification Tools
A wide range of lead generation and lead qualification tools are on the market. These tools often give sales and marketing teams access to accurate data about leads and their businesses.
The more powerful options also give users the ability to build targeted prospect lists that are based on a range of criteria. These options can give marketing and sales teams the power to pre-qualify their leads and focus on the right people. For instance, SalesRipe gives users the power to manage their leads throughout the sales process.
What Does the Lead Qualification Process Look Like?
The exact size and shape of the lead qualification process varies, depending on the methods you decide to use.
But there are three critical stages that should provide the backbone of your lead qualification process. Once a lead has passed through all three of these stages, you can rest assured that your lead is indeed a prospect.
These three stages are:
- Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL)
- Sales Accepted Leads (SAL)
- Sales Qualified Leads (SQL)
Let’s take a closer look at each of these stages in more depth…
Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL)
The marketing team is responsible for lead generation. But it’s very important that they don’t attract just any lead. Instead, they should only use their abilities to target viable prospects. This tactic will help them save time and resources while they elevate conversion rates.
Marketing teams use a range of techniques and tools, in order to make sure they attract the most appropriate leads. For instance, they might use sophisticated targeting tools when publishing their digital ads, in order to make sure they target the right group.
Marketing teams must also collect key information from leads by using forms. The information collected on these forms will give marketing and sales teams the ability to communicate with these leads in the future.
Once someone registers his or her interest by filling out a form, this person becomes a Marketing Generated Lead (MGL). At this point, their details will be added to a CRM and/or marketing automation platform for further engagement. But the MGL isn’t qualified yet.
Marketing professionals often use behavior tracking and marketing automation platforms to qualify leads, which can be used to create automated lead nurturing programs. To determine whether a lead is interested in more information, these programs dispatch free content and attractive offers.
Behavior tracking is very useful. It monitors whether a lead will engage with your digital assets and assign a score to each lead. This process is known as lead scoring. Once a lead reaches a certain score, he or she can be moved along into a more advanced category.
Then after the marketing team is satisfied that their MGL is qualified, he or she becomes an MQL, who is then passed along to sales for further evaluation.
Sales Accepted Leads (SAL)
Once a lead has been qualified by marketing, it is passed along to sales. Now it’s time for the sales team to work their magic and scrutinize the MQL in more depth.
The sales team will determine whether the MQL is a viable prospect. They will use their previous experiences, sophisticated tools, and industry knowledge to build a better picture of the lead.
For instance, let’s imagine that a salesperson name Connor is trying to determine whether an MQL is a good fit for the live chat software he’s selling.
Connor might decide to visit the lead’s website and find out whether he or she already has a certain tool. He might also use a traffic monitoring website to find out whether the lead meets the required volume of traffic.
Then Connor discovers he’s missing a critical detail. At this point, he could either decide to turn to a platform like SalesRipe, or he could call the lead directly to try and get their answers.
Now that Connor has a clearer picture of the lead, he can decide how to proceed. There are a few options…
After digging deeper, Connor might decide that the lead isn’t quite ready to be sold to. Perhaps he or she simply isn’t interested, or the timing might be off. Either way, he will pass the lead back to marketing. Then he or she can be placed back into the marketing cycle until it’s time to sell again.
Connor might have come across a significant barrier while researching the lead. For instance, he or she might not be able to buy due to budgetary or contractual constraints. So it makes more sense for the lead to be discarded.
Move to SQL
If everything looks good to Connor, he’ll pass it along to the final level of qualification…
Sales Qualified Leads (SQL)
An SQL is a viable prospect that could be sold to. But this lead isn’t completely qualified yet. So Connor will need to dig deeper to really understand whether the lead is ready.
At this point, Connor should use the BANT method outlined above. After Connor has determined that the lead is a good fit in the four key areas (budget, authority, need, and timing), he or she will become a prospect. So it’s now time to really get into the selling process and commit resources to closing the deal.
Lead Qualification Software
Lead qualification is a delicate science. If you’re going to achieve any level of success, you must use the best lead qualification software. So here’s a look at the best options out there…
SalesRipe helps businesses grow faster and fuel their growth. How? It makes it easy for sales and marketing teams to identify quality leads and connect with them in a matter of seconds.
This simple platform gives users access to accurate contact data across a range of fields, which makes it easy to qualify your prospects. SalesRipe also makes it easy to build targeted prospect lists and manage your leads throughout every stage of the sales process.
Over 20,000 happy users use SalesRipe, and that number is growing each day. Learn more about us here.
SalesLoft is a sales engagement platform that helps salespeople build stronger relationships with their leads.
This tool achieves this goal by offering deeper customer insights that help salespeople provide greater value and earn lifelong customers. These insights also make it easier for salespeople to qualify their leads and understand whether they’re viable prospects.
SalesLoft also offers a range of additional functionality, such as sales emails, dialers, analytics, recording, and coaching. In general, these features help organizations deliver a better sales experience.
Pipedrive is a CRM that was designed specifically for salespeople, by salespeople. The tool aims to provide those people with the features and functionality that give them the power to perform and smash sales targets.
The tool offers a detailed statistics tool that provides you with the answers to your common questions. You’ll be able to assess the health of your pipeline, the status of your leads, and much more.
Insights and visual reports also give you a clearer picture of your leads and their suitability. Those deep insights are simple to compare thanks to a range of compact tables and attractive charts.
If you develop a rigid lead qualification system, you’ll find that your salespeople can spend more time focusing on quality prospects. This advantage can significantly boost conversion rates and revenues.
We hope that this piece helps you with your lead qualification process. To unlock even more value, be sure to start your 7-day free trial with SalesRipe today.