What is a qualified lead?

What is a  lead

A lead is a person who is interested in what you sell or offer and has given you their details so they can learn more about you but we have not qualified that lead any deeper.   We now need to look at the levels of qualified lead.

For instance the (un)qualified lead might have downloaded a lead magnet or interacted with your online assets in some way, joined one of your your sales funnels, signed up for your email list. 

At this stage, in my book  they are a marketing qualified lead (MQL) as they have said they are interested but you are probably missing any deeper detail on fit, intent, readiness to buy etc..

When does a lead become a qualified lead?

So now what do you do – first of all don’t let that (un)qualified lead forget why they wanted you in their life!

Secondly, you have to look at how you can further qualify the lead and find where they are at so you can nurture them accordingly and stop wasting time selling to leads that are not ready to buy.

A lead is anyone who has interacted with your company and you have their contact (usually email) details to communiatea.

  • Audience on social media are not qualified leads, you are building on rented land.
  • They may or may not become a customer. A qualified lead (sales qualified lead) is a lead who has qualified as a potential customer.  A SQL is anyone who has gone through qualifying criteria to assess their quality as a lead, their fit as a customer, and their ability and readiness to buy.

Not every business has a process in place to evaluate and differentiate between leads. For those that do, understanding the difference between a marketing qualified lead (MQL) and a sales qualified lead (SQL) will help you differentiate between someone who’s interested in your content and someone who has intent to buy.   

There are lots of ways, you might be able to have some level of segmentation and qualification through your automations,  what they have downloaded or how they have acted to direct marketing information you have shared.

If you have an automation process that sends them into a webinar funnel, stepped approach to a high ticket offer, product or service launch offer or a process to recuit consultants or sales reps at some point you will have a group of leads.  A personal, voice interaction in your process that can qualify where these individuals are at and ensure the right deployment of your precious sales resources is vital.

How do you qualify a lead

This will depend on a lot of things but  4 that are common to all qualification processes are the 4 stages of BANT

          Budget – do they have the purchasing budget for your price point

          Authority – is your prospect the decision maker or is that someone else

          Need – to what extent does the prospect need what you are selling

          Timing – are they looking at buying now or in the near future

The BANT process is a great start but  is also very simplistic.  Not every buying decision is so linear and it is in my opinion assuming that there is already some depth of know like and trust and knowledge of the solution.  Also it does not factor in the internal sales work that the prospect has to do to sell your solution into their organisation.

So to create a more unique qualification for your sales process you might also like to consider:

  • Challenges – by identifying the prospects challenges you can determine the fit and by knowing the painpoints you can know which drivers to pitch at and how to help sell it into the organisation.
  • Prioritisation around the timing.
  • Drivers – what is the prospect hoping to achieve from your solution, including their own personal goals.
  • Decision process – from the economic buyer to the knowing their risk profile and how they buy will help you. For example,  new to the world may be trumped by tried and tested system – its an important difference.
  • Supporters – is there anyone in the prospect organisation or an outside influencer who is already a believer and can serve as a champion/introducer

Can you see as you bring in the above criteria there is lots of opportunity for more interesting and insightful conversations.   This criteria also  gathers data  which is vital for low volume, high value sales scenarios but less necessary for companies that sell high volumes of low cost items.

When do you know you have a qualified lead?

By using the technique that best suits the organization, your sales and marketing team can determine when it’s time to move a lead further down the sales funnel. Key indicators that reveal a qualified lead include:

  • The prospect having clarity  on their needs
  • A firm expression of interest and a need for your product or service
  • Demonstrate a clear understanding of your product or service and how it can help them.
  • Parity between your price point and the lead’s budget
  • Undertakes business in an industry that your brand normally sells to
  • The potential for a purchase in the near future
  • A profile that aligns with similar customers with whom you have already closed deals

After a lead is qualified, your sales team can begin nurturing the lead further by setting up additional calls or meetings, doing product demonstrations and creating more opportunities to discuss the product with current customers.

By working with a telemarketing  to do the heavy lifing of generating and qualification you can release your sales team for the all important sales conversion. 

Outsourcing telemarketing is a really low risk way to get that lead qualification process into your business.

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