Lead generation is one of the most important components of B2B sales. In order to grow and thrive, a company must continually be generating leads from marketing efforts and then converting those leads into sales. However, there’s a lot that needs to happen between a lead coming in via a website lead form, email, phone call, social media channel, etc. and closing a sale. This part of the process, equally important to lead generation, is lead qualification.
While it’s great to see lots of leads coming in, what’s more important than the quantity of leads is the quality of leads. They aren’t all created equal. No matter how targeted marketing efforts may be, not every person or company who inquires about a product or service is going to be a good fit for what’s offered. Because you don’t want your sales team to spend their time on leads that likely won’t go anywhere, before leads are passed on they should be scored. Then, only the sales qualified leads get passed on to sales to ensure that their time is spent as efficiently as possible.
Here are some things to consider when determining if a lead is sales qualified:
Who the lead is
Investigate who the lead is and what their responsibilities are within their organization. Ideally, when a lead is passed on to sales they are given the name of a decision maker, someone who has the power to make a purchasing decision. During the initial research phase, decision makers may pass this responsibility on to employees who then are the ones to fill out the lead form. Ideally, you want to set up an appointment with someone who does have the final say, and the lead qualification process will uncover who that may be.
Level of interest in the product or service
Because there’s no commitment necessary, people sometimes fill out lead forms very early in their research process. They may not have thoroughly researched the product or service that you offer to determine if they are a good fit for it. Maybe they think that you’ll do that work for them and they take that step hoping to figure things out as they go. Even if your website and marketing collateral is very clear about who you provide products or services too, you can never guarantee that a lead actually paid any attention to this information. Before these bad leads go to the sales team (and they essentially waste their time), a lead qualification process can filter them out.
If they’re ready to buy
The sales team should be spending their time selling and closing deals. If a lead qualification process determines that a lead is at the very top of the sales funnel, they can be further nurtured before passing them on to sales.
While some leads may never convert, a lead that has potential, but isn’t quite ready to be passed on to sales shouldn’t be written off completely. A lead nurturing campaign can keep your company top of mind as they gradually move through the sales cycle. Or, if the lead qualification process determines that the majority of leads are bad, it’s worthwhile to take a look at marketing efforts and make changes as necessary.