Within any organization, the sales team relies on marketing generated leads that come in via website lead forms, emails, phone calls, or even social media channels. Especially within the B2B sector, a business is only going to grow and thrive if leads are continually coming in and the sales team is able to establish a rapport with these leads and eventually close the sale.
However, all leads are not created equal. Instead of focusing on the number of leads an organization is getting in order to measure the effectiveness of marketing efforts, organizations should instead be focusing on the quality of inbound leads. Not every person or company who inquires about a product or service is going to be the best fit. That’s why lead qualification is just as important to the sales process as lead generation.
The sales team has limited time to interact with prospects and close deals. Lead qualification is the process of qualifying and scoring marketing generated leads (from the website, tradeshows, etc.) and passing only the sales qualified leads to the sales team, ensuring that the sales team is using their time as efficiently as possible. During the lead qualification process, associates can qualify leads by investigating the following:
If the lead is a decision maker
Because you want your sales team to spend their time as wisely as possible, it’s important that they only speak with individuals who have the power to make a purchasing decision. When an organization begins researching a company’s products or services, decision makers may pass this responsibility on to their employees. These employees certainly have enough knowledge to get the ball rolling, but do not have the final say. The lead qualification process will uncover who the real decision makers are within the organization so that the sales team can focus their efforts on setting up meetings (either in-person or via phone) with them.
If the lead is a good fit for the product/service
Sales teams are frustrated by leads that don’t go anywhere because the prospect wasn’t exactly sure what the product or service offered was and they weren’t the right audience for it. Some prospects don’t do initial research before filling out a form or making a phone call, they take that first step hoping to find out the necessary information along the way. For example, a small business owner may fill out a lead form but the company’s service only caters to large corporations. Even if the marketing collateral clearly states this, sometimes prospects aren’t paying enough attention. The lead qualification process can filter out these bad leads before they go to the sales team.
If the lead is ready to buy
A sales team’s time is best spent selling and closing deals, not providing information to leads that aren’t even close to buying. The lead qualification process can help to determine the level of interest that a lead has and how far through the sales funnel they are, ensuring that the sales team focuses their efforts on leads that are closer to conversion.
In some cases, a lead may not be ready for the sales team, but that doesn’t mean that they never will be. In addition to passing only the qualified leads to the sales team, lead qualification specialists can continue to nurture other leads until they are more qualified. This enables sales people to focus on the best opportunities and aligns marketing and sales efforts.