Learn How to Qualify Sales Leads and Stop Wasting Time

Piotr Zaniewicz in

Blog/Learn How to Qualify Sales Leads and Stop Wasting Time

I strongly believe that what makes a sales department efficient is the division of labor. A successful customer acquisition process involves presales efforts aimed at qualifying incoming leads in order to screen out those that are weak and not promising while pinpointing hot ones that need to be forwarded to and handled by the sales reps as a priority.

In this post, I’ll explain why you should qualify leads and how to best go about it, based on RightHello’s experience. The exact practices may differ depending on the industry, but some of the aspects hold true for everyone. Let’s go.

The role of presales – why bother?

Some of you may be thinking – why not cut to the chase and streamline all leads directly to salespeople? I understand you may be trying to optimize the funnel, but you’re doing yourself a disservice.

There’s a number of reasons for qualifying leads:

  • save your own and prospects’ time
  • focus on quality leads, which increases the chances of closing the deal
  • customize the pitch to address the actual pain points
  • develop customer loyalty – sell to the right business and win it for life

Inbound vs. outbound lead qualification

The most basic way to qualify sales leads is according to their origin. It may be either inbound or outbound, which determines the way you talk to them and close. Learn more about how to handle leads coming from both of these channels.

Leads acquired using cold emails are easier to qualify. They can either be:

  • interested (“Please tell me more”)
  • potentially interested (“Not now, but why don’t you reach out in X time?”)
  • not interested (“No, thanks”)

How to qualify a lead – getting started

Once you’ve gone past the initial screening, it’s time to take a more in-depth look at your prospects. These days, the most obvious thing to do is to visit the website. Still, you may not be able to learn a whole lot, as business sites often provide only general, if not meaningless information about the company. You know how this goes – everyone’s innovative and customer-oriented.

Now, LinkedIn is a much better destination if you want to collect information on your leads. The prospective customer’s profile will usually present relevant data, devoid of marketing blabber.

Yet another way to gather intelligence on the business you’re trying to win as a client would be to search for any recent news or press releases concerning them. Maybe they’ve just won a round of financing, or opened up a new branch? This will provide you with a reference point you can use during a conversation.

Lead qualification factors to consider

Essentially, there are pieces of information you’ll be able to determine on your own, and such that will require elicitation from the lead.

The information you can collect yourself will include:

  • industry/business type
  • location – there are cultural differences to consider, some nations, like the ones in the Middle East, take pride in negotiations; leads will have different budgets at their disposal; different legislation may affect how likely it is you’ll strike the deal
  • number of employees – usually, the more of them, the bigger the budget will be, however, this may not hold true for, say, SaaS businesses which may consist of only a couple of people, yet make major sales
  • the position of the person you’re talking to – a junior marketing manager will have a different outlook on certain things than a CEO

The information you’ll have to elicit from the lead will include:

  • whether they’ve used a product or service like yours before – they may have good or bad experience, which is something you’ll have to be prepared to address; you may have to provide a more detailed explanation or just some basics
  • do they have a relevant department on their end – a sales team may be needed to close the deal, or, say, an HR team will have to be in place if you’re trying to sell an HR service

Extra tips for qualifying sales leads

When collecting data, you may be tempted to invade someone’s privacy by looking up his Facebook profile, for example. If you’ll come across some useful information, make sure to bring it up in a manner which won’t come off as creepy.

What we’ve noticed in the course of our work is that if the lead has been in operation for quite some time and the owner is around 50-60 years old, you’ll be probed heavily for concrete information. There won’t be much room for you to do the regular sales chatting.

And while I’m at it, not to scare you at all, but if you hear any of these early on, you may be in a bit of a pickle:

Right, how much does it cost?
Does your product come with a warranty of success?
Uhm, what does your free package include?

When chatting to a lead, pay attention to details – the type of questions he asks, whether he postpones calls, what’s his overall attitude, etc.

Oh, and since I mentioned LinkedIn earlier in the post, you may want to try Rapportive for Gmail in Chrome. It’s a neat plugin that displays your contact’s LinkedIn profile.

Final word

All in all, lead qualification isn’t as time-consuming as you may think. As soon as you perfect the process, you’ll start reaping its benefits.

Some of the information you’ll collect will come in handy right away, other may prove to be useful down the line. Looking at the big picture, it’s better to know more about the lead when trying to close the sale.

Go through the information and the tips I provided once again and try to apply them to your particular circumstances. Good luck in making your sales more efficient!

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Piotr Zaniewicz

Founder and CEO at RightHello. Believes that the most important validation of business ideas is to find paying clients. That’s when you know you’re going in the right direction.