what is lead qualification

Lead Qualification From Start To Finish

Finding the right marketing or sales tactics can be very time-consuming. There are constantly new and evolving trends in the marketing world that seem to be the end-game solution for discovering leads, only for those trends to fizzle and not produce the best results. When it comes down to it, true success within a B2B company comes from focusing on the tried-and-true basics. One of the most basic marketing concepts that work has to be lead qualification. So exactly what is lead qualification? What makes it so important? In this guide, we’ll explore everything that business owners and sales professionals need to know about the lead qualification and the frameworks that can help your business acquire more and better leads.

What Is Lead Qualification?

Lead qualification is a process used by companies to decide whether or not their prospective buyers have the ability, willingness, and likeliness of purchasing a company’s products or services. In general, an effective lead generation process involves the discovery of a prospective buyer’s actual tangible need for your unique offering, and whether or not that lead has the buying authority or purchase power to actually make the purchase. Just as well, lead generation also involves discovering whether or not a lead has the funding to commit to a transaction.

The whole purpose of qualifying a lead is to sift through the seemingly endless sea of leads to discover the individuals who are the most likely to become customers. What’s the point of committing the same amount of time and energy to sell to each and every lead out there, rather than the ones that are the most likely to buy? Without lead generation, many B2B companies are simply wasting time and their sales teams’ energy.

Why Lead Qualification Is Important?

Lead qualification is important simply because it takes time and resources to sift through a large number of leads. If your sales and marketing reps are distributing their efforts across all leads, they’re missing an opportunity to hone in on specific leads that are the most likely to make a purchase. Discovering your qualified leads could be the most game-changing marketing decision that a B2B brand could make.

What Is A Sales-Qualified Lead?

A sales-qualified lead or SQL is a valuable lead that both sales reps and marketing reps will agree are sufficiently interested in a B2B company’s offering. This type of lead is good enough to invest time in a discovery call, or a phone call used to initiate a discussion about making a purchase. These are the kind of qualified leads that all B2B companies should be searching for in their pools of leads, as they are the most valuable and most likely to convert.

How To Qualify A Sales Lead?

what is a sales-qualified lead?
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Most B2B companies will qualify their B2B sales leads by using something called lead scoring. Lead scoring involves placing point values to different prospects that are as close to the start of the sales pipeline as possible. Typically, lead scoring occurs before a sales representative initiates a discovery call. Lead scoring helps reps understand whether or not a discovery call is even worth it, thus ensuring that reps are only talking to the highest-quality leads possible to minimize resources and time.

A lead score is calculated by using data that includes the buyer profile, business information, behavior online, engagement with social media(for instance, Linkedin as a good source for leads), engagement with email marketing, information that detects potential bots, and other elements. To establish a benchmark, divide the number of newly acquired customers by the number of overall leads that have been generated. From there, identify the characteristics that are the most valuable to your unique B2B company. Consult with your sales and marketing teams to discover these insights. From there, divide the number of customers acquired by leads that fit those specific characteristics.

Qualified Leads vs Unqualified Leads

It helps to understand the key differences between qualified and unqualified leads to create the right lead discovery framework for your business:

Qualified Leads:

  • Are currently in your company’s nurturing cycle and close to the end.
  • Have the right and very clear budget needed to make a purchase and are only looking for solutions that align with their financial capabilities.
  • Are decision-makers or stakeholders that can make purchases and conduct their own research on your product or service, as well as competitor offerings.
  • Know exactly what their pain point, problem, and solution are, as well as what their specific needs and requirements are in a potential solution.
  • Have low churn rates in most cases, as they tend to close on their own.

Unqualified Leads:

  • Haven’t been focused on or nurtured sufficiently in order for the sales cycle to close.
  • Don’t really understand your product or service offering.
  • Can’t afford your product or service, as it is out of their budgeted price range.
  • Don’t really grasp what they need for a specific solution, or what their pain point even is.
  • Have very high churn rates.

Lead Qualification Frameworks

There are many types of lead qualification frameworks out there, but one of the most popular has to be BANT.

BANT includes “budget, authority, need, and timeline.” This framework asks the following questions:

  • What is the lead’s budget?
  • Can the lead actually make the purchase? Are they decision-makers or key stakeholders?
  • Can the product or service solve the lead’s problem?
  • Can the lead integrate or use your solution as soon as possible?

By answering these questions during the lead qualification process, marketing teams can determine not only if the prospect is willing, but if they actually have the money and power needed to make a purchase decision.

When To Move Qualified Leads Through The Funnel?

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Once you’ve properly qualified your leads, it might seem a bit tricky trying to move them through your sales funnel. You’re already a step ahead by having a qualification process. No leads should be moved through the funnel unless they are qualified, lest you end up with very disorganized lists.

There are three points at which you can move your qualified leads along the funnel:

  • As Marketing Qualified Lead or MQL. This lead is one that has been deemed ideal for targeting as a likely buyer.
  • As a Sales Accepted Leads or SAL. This lead is one that has shown interest in the product at some point and sales teams are beginning to explore them a bit more to determine their qualifications.
  • As a Sales Qualified Lead. This lead is one that made it through to the tail end of your funnel and is considered highly qualified to be sold the product to.

Now that you know what is lead qualification, it’s time to put in the work to generate well-qualified leads. Leads at Scale is a B2B lead generation service dedicated to helping B2B companies build warm sales appointments and the best possible leads, so your business can finally start to grow. Explore our services today to lead more about how Leads at Scale’s B2B cold calling services and additional lead generation services can help your B2B company scale today.

How was our breakdown of lead qualification and how to qualify a sales lead? Tell us which tip or trick helped you in the comments below.

John Dubay

John Dubay is the Managing Partner at Leads at Scale, an outsourced sales support company that helps B2B companies generate well-qualified leads at scale, ready to be closed.

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