By Money Journal
But nothing will have a greater effect on your team’s ability to effectively market and sell your products than your process for qualifying potential and existing leads.
In this article, I am going to detail the exact processes and qualification formulas that you need to follow in order to quickly and effectively find leads who are willing and eager to invest in your services.
If you follow the steps I am going to lay out in this article, you will be able to save yourself thousands of dollars, streamline your marketing and sales processes, and avoid countless hours of headaches.
So let’s get down to it.
WHAT IS LEAD QUALIFICATION AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT
Lead qualification is a systematic process to evaluate whether prospects are able, ready, and willing to buy your products and services. It involves determining whether a prospect has a need for your product, the authority to make the purchase, and the money to execute a transaction. So why do you need to qualify a lead in the first place? Why not just throw every email address you have in an autoresponder? A lead is a lead right? Wrong.
Nothing will cause more internal conflict between your sales and marketing team than the quality of the leads produced by your company. Especially in a B2B company. Heck, even if you’re a solopreneur, failing to qualify leads will be the fastest way to burn your email list.
Picture this for a second.
Imagine that your marketing team is operating under a set of ambiguous and vague lead qualification SOPs. And while they are able to generate vast quantities of leads, the quality of the leads are a mystery.
Each and every day you have dozens if not hundreds of new leads being sent to your sales team for follow up and conversion. But only a small percentage of these leads can actually be sold to. No matter how impeccable your sales team’s tactics are or how smooth their pitch is, they simply cannot sell anything to the majority of these leads. So your sales team works diligently, calling and corresponding with hundreds of unqualified leads, wasting their precious time and your precious money.
As this process continues to repeat itself, the sales team’s motivation wanes and it takes all of their willpower to show up to work. The sales team will blame the marketing team’s efforts and conflict will become inevitable. You are now faced with:
- a disgruntled sales team
- a confused marketing team
- a dwindling budget
- no real revenue to show for all of your efforts
Because you and your teams did not take the time to clearly define the parameters for lead qualification. Having a strict qualification process will result in the loss of a few potential customers in that moment. By sending all of your new leads to your sales funnel without a qualification process, you’re asking for list armageddon.
THE THREE LEVELS OF THE LEAD QUALIFICATION PROCESS
On your path to lead qualification, there are three levels that all leads must be funneled through to be considered “sales ready” leads.
1. Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL)
A marketing qualified lead or MQL is exactly what it sounds like.
They are a lead that your marketing team has analyzed and whom they have deemed fit for targeting as a potential customer. The marketing team will create various free offers in the form of content, downloadables, and free trials to determine a lead’s interest before funneling them through the rest of the process.
2. Sales Accepted Lead (SAL)
A sales accepted lead or SAL is a lead that has already been qualified by the marketing team and then passed along for further scrutiny and evaluation.
So for example, let’s say that you run a Facebook advertising agency and offer a free website audit to potential leads.
Once they have taken advantage of that offer, they are now marketing qualified and entered into the second stage of the qualification funnel – to be sales accepted.
From here, the sales team will correspond with them further, asking more in-depth questions to determine their “sellability” either prior to or after delivering the website audit.
Depending on the lead’s qualifications and interest levels the lead will either be remarketed, discarded, or moved onto the third level of qualification, Sales Qualification.
3. Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)
An SQL has passed the first two phases of your lead qualification funnel and been deemed qualified to be sold.
The sales team will now conduct a BANT analysis before engaging in the final sales call and (hopefully) closing the deal.
BANT is a sales acronym to help marketers determine who is qualified and who is not.
It stands for:
Once all of the above qualifications have been met, the lead is sales qualified and ready to engage with your sales representatives for final conversion.
AN EXAMPLE OF LEAD QUALIFICATION AT WORK
Let’s go back to our previous example of a Facebook Advertising agency.
Step #1: Your marketing team puts together a marketing qualification funnel where they target small businesses who have shown interest in Facebook advertising services.
Their ads target these potential leads with a free offer for your social media audit.
After the campaign concludes, the marketing team has generated roughly 1,000 marketing qualified leads.
Step #2: They now pass these MQLs onto the sales team for further qualification.
Before auditing the lead’s websites, the sales team sends out questionnaires to collect more information.
They ask about:
- yearly revenue.
- current marketing and advertising practices.
- if they have ever worked with an agency before.
- any other pertinent details they need to qualify them.
Of the 1,000 MQLS, only 100 pass the SAL process and are passed onto the final stage of the sales qualification process.
Step #3: Now, with the final 100 SALs filtered through, the sales division now qualifies these leads even further, following up with the highly qualified leads over the phone to discuss the audit.
They go over the details, of the audit all the while collecting information on the lead and filtering them through the BANT process.
After the process they find that roughly 10 of the leads are fully sales qualified and are then connected with a representative, resulting in 5 highly qualified new customers.
The leads have been filtered, your sales and marketing divisions have done their jobs admirably and you have an extra $5,000 in monthly revenue added to the bottom line.