Lead qualification is the process of evaluating and categorizing leads based on their potential to become paying customers. It’s identifying which leads are genuine fits for your product, show interest, and have a problem that your product or service can solve.
How Lead Qualification Saves Time and Money
We’re casting a large net these days. Between social media, website inquiries, trade shows, we’re capturing people from a wide array of sources. This pool may look promising, but it’s essential to recognize that not everyone in this group is ready to make a purchase. Some may be just exploring options, while others might not have a problem you can solve.
Pursuing every lead can drain your sales team. Their time is valuable and spending on leads that are unlikely to convert means fewer opportunities to focus on those with a higher chance of buying. You’re killing the teams morale by asking them to go chasing after person who comes across your website. They’re paid on commissions, their time is literally money and you’re asking them to waste it on tire kickers. Dedicating all this time to unqualified leads also means you’re missing out on real, high-potential opportunities.
Every hour spent on a lead that doesn’t align with your ideal customer profile is an hour that could have been used more effectively. This costs you money in terms of both labor and miss opportunity costs. The costs of acquiring and nurturing leads can add up quickly, especially if you’re spending too much time on unqualified leads.
Closing the right deals quickly and efficiently is key. Lead qualification is your gatekeeper, ensuring only sales qualified leads proceed through your funnel.
Identifying a sales qualified lead is searching for a needle in a haystack. It takes precision, insight, and a deep understanding of what truly qualifies as an opportunity. A major challenge in today’s sales world is the diverse array of decision criteria used by individual salespeople and within various organizations. Some swear by BANT, while others embrace MEDDIC / MEDDPICC, still others have developed their own unique frameworks.
BANT: Budget, Authority, Need, and Timing. A widely used framework that focuses on these four prospect identifiers to determine their qualification as strong leads.
MEDDIC: Metrics, Economic Buyer, Decision Criteria, Decision Making Process, Identify Pain, Champion – another widely used framework.
Both of these frameworks fall short of delivering a true SQL.
It’s All About Engagement With SQLs
What truly identifies a sales qualified lead? Engagement. The ideal SQL is a prospect who has demonstrated not only interest but a commitment to accompany you on the sales journey. This commitment goes beyond a passive interest, it requires actively engaging with the sales process and showing a genuine interest to explore your offering.
With the hundred different definitions and criteria floating around, the fundamental requirement for an SQL remains simple and unwavering. Sales in not about selling, it’s about nurturing mutually beneficial relationships with prospects. Without that engagement, your sales efforts are likely to fall flat.
Simplifying Lead Qualification
Do you need an elaborate set of criteria to identify SQL? No. It boils down to four fundamental questions:
- Does a problem exist?
- Does the customer admit they have the problem?
- Can you fix the problem?
- Will they go on a journey with you to fix the problem?
To move forward you need all 4 pieces of this puzzle PLUS engagement from the prospect.
Lead Disqualification: Knowing When to Let Go
Sometimes, you’ll have all 4 pieces of the equation, the client will be engaged in conversation with you and you’ll discover the Gap is not large enough for either of you to care. These pieces are essential but it’s equally vital to recognize when continuing the conversation may not bring a worthwhile value to either side. In this episode of Gap Sell Keenan we see an example of that.
If, despite your best efforts, it becomes evident that the prospect’s objectives or the man hours it would take for the product to be profitable for both sides, it may be necessary to disqualify and disqualify quickly.