07 Feb 4 Strategies to Qualify your Sales Leads
People have become comfortable doing business online with little to no interaction with another person. Which means some of the sales tactics you may still be using don’t work so well anymore.
Sales strategies like cold calling are increasingly ineffective because they are typically viewed as annoying. The same with unsolicited emails, and so on. It’s a negative way to introduce your company for the first time. If you and I don’t like these interruptions, then it makes sense your prospective buyers feel the same.
With the shift in how buyers behave, you’re probably wondering how you can upgrade your marketing to generate enough leads? Of course, change is needed here too. I try to focus less on the quantity of leads and more on improving the quality of leads.
When I fill my funnel with high-quality leads, my outreach and follow-up are not perceived as an annoyance. Instead, I’m recognized as a valuable resource provider.
In industries, like printing, personal interaction is still one of the best ways to build the business. It stands out from the purely online competition. Prospective customers know a lot about us, so it makes sense that I do my best to learn about them. It ensures neither of us is wasting time on a sale that won’t happen.
Here are my four strategies to qualify sales leads; so, you can focus on the ones most likely to close.
- Defining a Qualified Lead
In the simplest terms, a qualified lead is one that meets these three buyer criteria:
- Has the need for what you’re selling
- Has the power to decide to buy
- Has the necessary budget
The faster you can determine if the person you’re speaking to meets all three criteria, the better. But how do you do that? Unless you have established a relationship, asking them these questions directly out of the gate is likely to be a turn-off.
A speedy qualifying process uses buyer personas–a clear picture of who your ideal buyers are. Does your lead match one of the buyer personas? If so, then use the three buyer criteria to qualify further.
A good buyer persona defines what the business and contact person is most likely to look like as a qualified lead. The type of company, the role of the individual, and size by revenue or employees are usually the biggest factors.
However, strict adherence to a buyer persona could accidentally rule out businesses that may be a good fit for your services, so don’t rely solely on your pre-determined persona to define qualified leads. Let the persona and buyer criteria help you to prioritize your efforts.
I like to use a simple lead scoring system to prioritize opportunities after connecting with a lead: It’s easy to be subjective when an opportunity pops up because we want to win the sale. Instead give each opportunity a score of one to five in three different areas – pain (need), power (authority), and fit (budget, appropriate solution). If they add-up below a 10, it’s very likely never to close.
With the loss of a phone culture in the business world, it can feel like sales have gotten harder to do. But there are benefits which the Internet provides that were never available before. Make sure you’re taking full advantage!
Use data from your website: This can help you determine their potential as a buyer. Some systems, like Hubspot’s free marketing tool, gives you insight into individual’s web activity. If your lead is checking out your blog or webinars, they might have an interest in your company, but if they’re looking at pricing and requesting demos, they’re demonstrating that their business has a need for your services.
Investigate their website: You can often get a ballpark answer about the budget and needs just by looking at a business’ website or the company’s LinkedIn profile. For example, how they deliver services, the annual revenue, and employee structure.
- Part of Qualifying is Learning When and How to Disqualify
It’s common sense that if a company doesn’t have the right budget, they can’t buy your product, and if you’re not speaking to a person with purchasing power, they won’t be able to buy, no matter how well you convince them. But it can be harder to establish an urgent need.
Imagine speaking to the CEO of a large company, and they are fascinated with all aspects of your business. They might just be curious, or thinking about something they might need down the road. If your services are not solving a problem that their business has right now, if you’re not providing them with the specific answer to one of their current needs, then you’re not going to find a new client there.
A qualified lead will meet all THREE of the qualified buyer criteria.
- Qualifying Is a Lot Like Listening
In both sales and marketing, it can often feel like you tell a lead what it is they need to hear because you’re looking at it from the perspective of making a sale. Even if you’re assessing their needs, it’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to tell them why they need you.
Qualifying a lead means listening to who the buyer is and the problems they want solved. Once you’ve done so, you can present accurately how your company is uniquely qualified to help them out. Or, you may find they aren’t the right customer for your business, which allows you to spend more time on those who are the best fit.
You have my four strategies to qualify a sales lead. Who has a fifth way they would like to share? Post your comments in the box below.