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Every sales team starts with a common goal – to convert more leads into customers.
The difference between high performing teams and the ones that struggle to meet targets, ultimately, lies in the approach they take to get to that goal.
Sales is a complicated process, and there’s no silver bullet solution that works for every team, company or industry. But here’s where things get interesting – sales teams who understand their potential buyers better, close more deals consistently!
This level of understanding needed to build a predictable, high performing sales machine, is not achieved by following a spray-and-pray approach. Instead, it is built by listening actively to people, filtering out the interested prospects quickly and deeply understanding their needs, expectations, and pain-points.
Put simply, consistent, high growth sales starts with qualifying leads and nurturing prospects.
According to research, 79% of leads never convert into sales. That is one thought provoking statistic – if your sales team is already fighting against the odds, it’s important to have a strategy to increase the odds of success.
This is the secret of sales teams that grow consistently – they don’t just have big goals to chase, they also have a well-defined system in place to get closer to their goals.
A lead qualification layer can be the foundation of a sales strategy that gets consistent results.
By qualifying leads, sales teams can understand the right prospect, and ultimately, spend more time selling and less time guessing.
This post will cover three key benefits of lead qualification, and what sales team can gain, with a qualification process as part of their strategy. Before going into the details, let’s understand what it means to qualify your leads.
What is Lead Qualification?
The difference between ‘leads‘ and ‘prospects‘ is critical in sales.
Leads are people who have shown interest in your product or service. Prospects are people who have shown intent in buying what you’re selling.
In simple words, lead qualification is – a systematic process that helps you find and connect with sales ready prospects, faster.
This is how it works –
- Firstly, lead qualification helps you easily identify relevant sales opportunities from your pool of leads .
- Secondly, it helps you better understand their needs, pain points, aspirations, and other important signals so you can personalise your sales pitch for maximum impact.
When you qualify your leads, you narrow down from a long list of cold leads to a smaller list of warm prospects. And when you have qualified prospects, you can reach out to them first.
This is how lead qualification helps – it enables sales teams to filter out cold leads and focus their best efforts on prospects, without going in every direction.
To understand the impact in detail, here are the three important advantages of lead qualification that every sales team should know.
1. Qualifying leads helps you understand your prospects better
The importance of trust in a sale can never be overstated. No sale ever made is a result of just a transaction, instead, it is always a result of trust.
Once people start knowing and trusting you, selling becomes a lot easier and effortless.
According to Forrester research, companies that nurture their leads and build trust, can generate up to 50% more sales opportunities at 33% lower costs. That’s an amazing advantage to have in any business.
Qualifying leads is a two-way street – you can ask questions to understand prospects better, and buyers can gather the information they need for making an informed purchase decision.
When you qualify your leads, you start from a position to understand them first. This understanding forms the basis of knowing who your prospect buyer is and how well can your product or service fit into their idea of an ideal solution.
Ultimately, you’re selling to people, not numbers. And people like to buy from people who can understand their needs better.
Your prospects are just like you, they too want to spend the money on products and services that can solve their problems and give positive value in return for their money. If you can understand them better than anyone else, you already have an advantage over others.
Here are three steps to get started –
- Ask relevant questions about the problems they’re trying to solve, and the goals they want to reach with a solution.
- Determine what they are looking for in an ideal solution and how soon they can make a purchase decision.
- Probe if they’ve tried other solutions before you or if they are evaluating more options.
Answers to the above questions will give you the visibility on prospects who’re just showing interest, versus those who are showing signs of becoming customers.
At this point, you can separate people who’re ‘just casually browsing‘ from people who are ‘actively looking for solutions‘.
Thus, by simply asking a couple of relevant questions, you can easily qualify your leads, and understand prospects better than before.
2. Qualifying leads saves you time and money
The value of time is immense for every team that’s chasing targets, yet it’s surprising to see how many sales teams waste their time chasing wrong leads and poorly qualified prospects.
According to a study by Salesforce, a sales professional spends only 33% of their time selling, the rest of their work hours are taken away by repetitive, mundane or irrelevant tasks.
When you’re already running against the clock, the last thing you should do is waste time.
Not every lead is worth spending your time on, having a lead qualification framework will help sales teams move quickly to where the opportunity is. By qualifying leads, you can easily pinpoint to the direction where you should be spending most of your limited time and efforts.
Here are three steps to get started –
- Use automation tools to capture basic details like – location, age, industry, etc.
- Evaluate leads on the basis of their budget and purchase intent.
- Ask them about their ideal time frame for purchasing a solution.
Once a lead is qualified on the specific parameters, sales reps can decide how to spend their time and which leads to start with first.
Based on the inputs to the above parameters, you can then assign scores to qualified prospects.
The higher the score of a lead, the higher they get to be on your priority list, and the more time you should spend dealing with them.
Yes, qualifying your leads leads will require sales teams to invest extra time, but in the long run, the amount of time they can save by not chasing wrong leads, can further be invested and utilised towards building better relationships with their prospects and customers.
3. Qualifying leads helps you build better sales relationships
Here’s a fact – companies that understand their customers better, build better relationships over time, and consistently convert trust into growth and success.
If your goal as a company is to grow sales consistently, building better relationships with your prospects and customers is the first step you should take to get to your goal.
But, how important is relationship building for the success of your sales strategy?
According to Salesforce, 76% of consumers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations. Put simply, in a buyer-driven world, customers prefer to choose businesses that understand their pain-points better.
And, how does lead qualification exactly help you with relationship building?
At the core of lead qualification, is context. Context about who your target buyer is, what problems do they face, and why have they shortlisted you as one of the probable solutions.
This context can help you have better conversations. A sales person who has more context about there prospects, has more to talk about and more to value to offer during a conversation.
Sales reps can use the answers gathered from the qualification process as cues, and use them to personalise their pitch and have meaningful conversations.
Here are three steps to get started –
- Ask them about their goals, and what challenges are they looking to solve.
- Explore if they have any doubts, or specific questions regarding your products or services.
- Personalize your pitch around their pain-points and share resources that can be of help.
These qualification questions signal empathy. Empathising with their pain-points of your prospects helps in two ways – first it sets the tone for trust in their minds, and second, it gives you more opportunities to talk to them.
Once you gain a precise understanding about your prospects, you can have valuable conversations with them, and easily nurture them through each stage of their buying journey, all of this while gaining the ultimate advantage in sales – trust.
With this earned trust, overtime you can create a network of loyal customers who bring in more customers from their network.
When existing customers who trust you, start bringing in new customers on their own, that is when you have built a consistent sales system that compounds its value over time.
Ultimately, building better relationships are a win-win for both the consumer and the business side. And, the foundation of it starts with listening to and understanding your prospects better.
Are you qualifying your leads?
The old adage of working smarter, not harder, still holds true, especially in sales.
This is why lead qualification is important – not as a quick hack, but as a smarter and systematic way for –
- Getting better at the spotting warm leads i.e. finding the right people to talk to,
- Reaching out to these leads at the right time with the right pitch, and
- Helping qualified prospects better understand what you’re selling.
To recap, qualifying leads gives sales teams the following benefits –
- It eliminates guesswork and redundant efforts of dealing with cold leads.
- It saves you time and helps you generate money by focusing on high intent prospects.
- It gives sales teams the context to serve prospects with personalised communication.
In sales, timing and personalization has always been the key, especially in the buyer driven, competitive landscape of today. Knowing what to say, and when to say, can give your sales team an advantage over competitor fighting for the same prize!
Once you include a qualification layer in your sales strategy, it’ll be a lot faster for your teams to build a healthy, predictable and efficient sales pipeline.
And that’s when sales teams can start moving to a position of higher odds of success.