The process of capturing leads isn’t much of a walk in the park. After all, it requires you to sit down and thoughtfully craft email sequences, Facebook ads, sales pages, and so much more to get in front of them.
But, actually qualifying those leads? Well, that’s a whole other story.
You may be eager to corral anyone and everyone interested in your product or service. And, I get it. 110%. You put a lot of your precious time and money into bringing your ideas to life. So, why would you ever want to leave someone who bites onto your offer in the dust?
It’s often a tough pill to swallow. Trust me when I say, however, that the moment you get serious about your lead qualification process and ridding yourself of the giant no-no prospects on your list, you’ll find yourself doing the following:
- Actually saving money.
- Simplifying your sales and marketing efforts.
- And, escaping giant headaches that would, without a doubt, come your way if you accepted every lead that came through.
All that said, you ready to get down to business and learn about the four steps that will qualify your sales leads quickly?
Wait a minute. What is lead qualification, and why the heck should I care?
In the simplest words possible, it’s a process that helps you evaluate whether or not the soon-to-be customers you’re attracting—who show interest in your offer—are actually able, ready, and willing to hand over their hard-earned cash to you in exchange for a solution. A solution that’ll rid them of their biggest headache.
Ultimately, it all boils down to three factors: do they need it, do they hold decision-making power, and do they have the money (and time) required to execute the transaction?
I’m sure you’re thinking, however, “The last thing I need is to add yet another task to my to-do list.” Yes, I know. I basically just read your mind because I understand. I’ve been in your shoes before.
But, let me tell you something. You certainly can’t afford not to qualify your leads. And, here’s why:
- You’ll waste your time. If you’re constantly trying to win over and sell to every lead that cycles through your inbox, you’re going to find yourself spending hours feeling like you’re throwing darts in the dark. You just might never hit the bullseye. And, that’s not a good feeling.
- You’ll miss out on opportunities. While focusing on trying to land all of your leads, you’ll also run the risk of losing sight of high-value customers. You know, the ones who will stick with you for the long haul and show you their wallets. So, instead, because you don’t have your eyes on the “prize,” it’s easier for your top prospects to blend in with the rest of the bunch.
- You’ll seal some bad deals. This reason goes hand in hand with the previous one. When you don’t have a system in place to qualify your leads, everyone gets dropped into the same pile. Therefore, it’s easier for you to close some bad deals with people who are simply interested in a free trial, made an impulse decision, or are looking for a quick fix and won’t be with you for long. No thanks!
- You’ll have a difficult time understanding your customers. When you’ve closed deals with leads who don’t fall into the list of attributes your ideal customer must have, you can bet it’ll be a lot more difficult to truly understand them and their needs. Right? Absolutely. Thus, your relationship with them may be a tough one to build and nurture. If you don’t have your ideal customer figured out, just wait until the end of this post to see what I have in store for you!
Roger that! Now, tell me the steps to qualify my sales leads quickly.
There are many sales qualification methodologies out there for you to choose from. But, today, I’m going to focus only on the BANT method.
Have you heard of it? If not, the acronym stands for:
Budget meaning, how much is the prospect able and willing to spend? Authority, are they the ultimate decision maker? Need, do they have a problem/headache your product or service can solve? Timeline, is there a sense of urgency to buy on their end?
If you Google the BANT method, however, you may find many articles that discuss opposing viewpoints when it comes to putting it into action. But, it’s not just the methodology that gets people talking. It’s also how you use it.
As HubSpot suggests, BANT “fails when salespeople use it as a checklist, meaning they ask people a series of rote questions without truly listening to their response or attempting to add value.”
So, before I dig any deeper, once you grab hold of each of these components of this lead qualification technique, be sure you do all of the following:
- Lead a two-way dialogue with your prospects.
- Don’t miss opportunities to dig deeper following any responses from your prospects.
- And, avoid “sticking to the script.” Keep it friendly and engaging to sincerely sift through your list of leads and find your true customers!
Now, let’s walk through the qualification questions below (thanks again to the help of HubSpot!), which you should have the opportunity to ask during your discovery call (or even a questionnaire!) with your prospect.
- What do you currently spend now on this problem or need?
- We’ve calculated your team is losing X amount per [week, quarter, year] on this problem. How does that compare to the budget you’ve set aside?
- We’ve calculated your team could potentially gain X amount per [week, quarter, year] by making this [change, investment]. How does that compare to the budget you’ve set aside?
- Whose budget is this coming out of?
- How much would it cost to build the system by yourself?
- How much would it cost if you haven’t fixed this issue in five years?
- How heavily will price factor into the decision?
- Have you identified a budget range for this purchase?
- What’s the ROI you’re hoping to see?
- Who will be using the product?
- When was the last time you bought a similar product? How did the decision making process go?
- This is normally the stage where my customer brings in [the head of Finance, the other stakeholders, their manager] to [discuss X, get their perspective on Y]. Do you want to invite [Z person/people] to our next meeting?
- Will anyone else be involved in this decision?
- When did you identify [problem, opportunity]?
- What steps have you already taken to address it?
- How important is addressing this to your personal goals at [company]? Career goals? Your department’s?
- What are your top priorities at the moment? Where does this fit on that list?
- What happens if you don’t address this?
- Are there any upcoming events/deadlines that you’d like to have a solution in place by?
- Are you planning any [insert relevant project here, i.e. lead generation campaign, major hiring spree, program overhauls, etc.)?
- What’s your [lead generation, revenue, retention, etc.] goal for [next quarter, half of the year]? Will you be able to meet that goal without some sort of change?
- Working backward from the date you gave me, we’d need to finalize our agreement by [earlier date]. Is that sound doable?
While this is great stuff and all, are you wondering how to know if your lead qualification system is working? If so, LucidChart.com serves up the answers you need:
- The prospect continues the conversation by asking questions. Ask some of your own questions to keep the conversation flowing naturally.
- The lead has been thinking about a specific business challenge for a while and is citing specific examples. Well-worded answers could indicate the lead has been dwelling on this issue for some time and is ready to make a change.
- The lead has an idea of the solution they’re looking for. Those in a position of authority tend to have a pulse on what their business is struggling with, what’s going right, and what solutions might fit best.
And, lastly, your leads shouldn’t just match one component of the BANT method. Instead, LucidChart.com suggests they need to meet at least three to be considered viable. Though, you and your team may decide what a viable lead looks like for your business.
In the end, lead generation and qualification will take quite a bit of time on your end. But, it’s well worth it so you can spot winning soon-to-be customers from the crowd. So, the ball’s in your court—get out there and start the process to grow your customer roster!
And, as I promised earlier, if you’re still trying to discover who your ideal customer is, I’ve got just the thing for you—a free copy of Who Is Your Perfect Customer? The Ultimate Guide You Need to Catch Them Today. Just enter your email into the box on the right side of your screen, and you’ll receive it in your inbox right away!
Have questions or comments on lead qualification? Let me know in the comments section below. I’d love to hear from you and be of help!