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Lead Qualification Sales Process

Optimize Your Sales Process with Lead Qualification

February 17th, 2021

Top marketing teams have a clear view of lead qualification organization and management. They know the power a killer sales process can have on commercial results. Lead qualification is the process of turning leads into prospects in your pipeline. Qualifying leads gives you an insight into prospects that may have an interest in your product or service, but it doesn't guarantee they will become customers. However, it is an essential step towards building a customer base.

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Benefits of Lead Qualification

A short call is typically all it takes to qualify a lead. Briefly outline what you are offering and listen closely to what is not said. You can learn just as much about the level of interest from what is not said as you can from what the prospect is actually saying.

Delegate this step to newer members of your team. Initial contact does not require much experience, so this will free more experienced sales professionals to follow up and close the deal.

Should Leads be Disqualified?

Yes! Disqualification is equally as important as qualification. This is like weeding out the bad apples. You don't want to waste valuable time and resources on a prospect that will never become a customer. This may seem counter-intuitive, but it is an essential part of the process. You want your agents to spend their time on more fruitful prospects.

3 Key Steps in Qualifying a Lead

Companies often purchase lists of leads or acquire leads from third party sources. Buying lead lists is risky, and some may argue, it's borderline illegal. However, with over half of all businesses struggling to secure leads, many are willing to risk purchasing lists.

Lead lists are expensive, and the data is not always current or accurate. Despite all this, lead generation is essential, and comprehensive organic lead generation strategies are not always an option.

Agents are left with large pools of leads to cold call. Most consumers these days despise receiving cold calls and have joined no-call lists, which makes telemarketing more difficult than ever. But it is a vital part of sales. The following steps will help to whittle down your pool of leads.

Organization-Level Qualification

Organization qualification should be the first step you take in lead qualification. It helps you garner basic information about your prospect that you can use to qualify or disqualify a lead and determine whether or to follow up. You are looking for more information about the:

  • Industry they service
  • Geographic location
  • Size of the company
  • Demographic

Opportunity-Level Qualification

In this step, you want to determine if the product or service you are offering meets your prospect's needs. Not every lead will express interest, or simply not have any use for the services your company offers. You need to determine:

  • If your product provides a solution, resolves a challenge, or fits the needs of the company?
  • Does the buyer persona mesh with your company?
  • How can your service or product benefit the lead?
  • Whether your offer is affordable for this particular customer?

Stakeholder-Level Qualification

The first two steps are feelers. You are simply finding out if the lead has enough interest to pursue further. At the stakeholder level of qualification, the situation gets more difficult. This is when your sales agent must try to contact the person in charge of making buying decisions. Dealing with a manager or interested team member will not necessarily close the deal. Ultimately, upper management, the finance department, or human resources has the final say on the budget and final purchasing decisions. During the stakeholder qualification stage, your agents need to find out:

  • Who has the spending power?
  • Who needs to approve purchases?
  • How many decision-makers are involved?
  • Who handles the account after the purchase?

Frameworks for Lead Qualification

Although there are a variety of lead qualification methods, the following are some of the most popular.

BANT

This is one of the oldest and most typical frameworks for lead qualification. This framework was the brainchild of IBM and has become the go-to method for qualifying leads in a variety of markets and companies. BANT stands for:

  • Budget – Is the budget adequate to address this situation?
  • Authority – Are you the person authorized to make a purchasing decision to address the challenge presented?
  • Need – What is the challenge you are facing, and why hasn’t it already been addressed?
  • Timeline – What is the time allotment for solving this challenge?

BANT is straightforward and simple. It is an ideal method for someone with low-stakes or low priced products and no other lead qualification framework in place. However, the order of the questions doesn't seem too logical. Jumping right in with a question about the budget could seem a bit intrusive.

CHAMP

The CHAMP method was developed to solve issues with BANT. It puts more important questions first.

  • Challenges – What problem do you need to solve? What challenges or problems have still not been effectively solved by your current solution?
  • Authority – Who is all involved in the purchasing decision? Should they be brought into the conversation?
  • Money – What financial gains or return on investment does the solution need to realize?
  • Prioritization – How urgent is the need for a solution to your problem? Are there other possible solutions you are considering?

CHAMP moves the conversation along in a more natural way. However, the questions are a bit broad and could leave the sales agent ill-prepared to fully explain the future value of the product.

Optimizing Your Sales Process

Qualify all leads effectively and efficiently from the start. This will save on resources and end more calls with a sale. Assign your best opener agents to qualify leads so your top closers will have a more refined pool of prospects to work with. This means more sales and less wasted time. Finding the right lead qualification method for your business and agents is the best way to streamline and optimize your sales process.