All companies depend on renewing ( / up-selling) and adding more clients each year in order to keep growing. And yes, renewing ( / up-selling) before adding.
Marketing and sales must push their numbers up and drive results effectively. And you know it is not always easy.
46% of salespeople missed their quotas last year. Those who didn't are applying techniques to know and nurture well their leads and clients.
So here is a question:
- Do you see and manage all your leads and clients the same way?
- Or you know well your clients that you filter, attract, and nurture very closely similar leads?
The latter is how those who pass their quotas think and work.
Once you quantify your clients data, your marketing and sales can prioritize, put their focus on those who score similar, and drive smarter growth.
Enter lead qualification and lead scoring.
Today is mostly about lead qualification, what it is, why it matters, and how it works. We will cover more on lead scoring in a future post.
What Is Lead Qualification?
Anyone who works in sales knows that not every lead is equally valuable to every company.
That’s because a lead is not the same thing as a customer – they just have the potential to possibly become one.
Even if you use inbound marketing to gather your leads (meaning you won’t have a person’s contact information unless they are at least somewhat interested in what you have to sell), you will inevitably collect many leads who are a bad fit for your product and who you will probably not be able to successfully sell to.
Lead qualification is the process of making sure that a lead is worth spending your time on. This is beneficial for both you and the person you’re selling to.
As Steli Efti, the CEO of CRM provider Close.io and an expert on lead generation, puts it: “Qualifying just means that you went through a process to evaluate: ‘Can I help you, and can you help me in return?’”
A qualified lead is one who:
- Has a need your product can fill
- Has shown an interest in your specific product
- Has the authority and the budget to make the purchase from you
- Is ready to make a purchase in the near future
These are the basic criteria a lead needs to meet before you can safely say that they will probably be receptive to a salesperson’s influence.
Surprisingly, though, only 56% of companies bother to validate their leads in this way before they are passed on to their salespeople.
If you start incorporating lead qualification procedures into your sales and marketing routine, you could gain a significant advantage in the marketplace.
Not all of your leads will turn out to be qualified ones, and that’s okay.
It might feel instinctually wrong to toss out a lead you spent time and resources to get, but just because you’ve already made some level of investment doesn’t necessarily mean that it makes sense to keep investing in it.
It’s important to recognize when a lead isn’t worth spending time on and to be able to set it aside in favour of better prospects.
A small list of highly qualified leads is worth much more than a long list of unqualified ones that will never convert into customers.
Consider Lead Scoring As Well
Just because you’ve determined that a lead is qualified does not mean that you should stop examining their suitability for selling.
Lead qualification is a fairly black-and-white process that is meant to tell you whether or not you have a chance of convincing a lead to buy from you. What it doesn’t tell you is how a given lead stacks up against another one in terms of their desirability for you.
For that, you’ll need a sub-technique called lead scoring, which takes your qualified leads and further divides them based on traits that indicate they are a better prospect than the rest.
These are the leads that are more likely to buy from you multiple times or to make large purchases instead of small ones – or best of all, ones that will do both.
Following up on these prime leads is critical to a company’s success because they can provide more revenue for the same amount of effort as any other lead. It’s proven to work; at least some companies have achieved a 138% increase in ROI by implementing this part of lead qualification.
Related: The best follow-up processes
Why Does It Matter?
Practicing lead qualification is critical to making sure that your sales time is used efficiently. You only have so many hours in the day to try to lock down more sales, and if you’re going after people who probably won’t buy from you no matter what you tell them, you’re losing some of that time.
In fact, 50% of the average salesperson’s time is wasted on unproductive prospecting – in other words, on unqualified leads.
All those extra leads are just white noise distracting you from the ones you should really be spending your time on.
If you can weed them out, you’ll be left with just the ones that stand a real chance of getting you results.
Focusing on these prime candidates should bring you improved sales performance even without changing anything else about the way you do things.
It would be unrealistic to expect to double your sales even once you’ve recovered that wasted half of your day, but you will almost certainly see an uptick, and it will likely be a large one.
How It Works
Lead qualification is a multi-step process that starts with identifying key characteristics that any future customers of yours must have and then systematically sorting through your existing leads to pick out the ones that match all of those traits.
For instance, say you’re a business selling IT monitoring solutions to other businesses. Your steps to finding a qualified lead might look something like this:
Start by figuring out if the person in question has any buying power on behalf of a business, and how much. If they are just a layperson or are too low-level in their company to have much influence, they won’t buy your product.
Then look at what kind of business the remaining people are representing. Someone buying for a large media company would definitely be in the market for the kinds of services you’re selling, but someone running a small independent antique store probably wouldn’t.
From there, look at more specific qualities, such as whether or not they already have a competitor’s product in place within their organization and how ready they are to buy right now.
You might also look at how meaningfully they’ve interacted with your website or other online content if you have that information available.
At each step in the process, you’re cutting out more and more leads who probably won’t buy from you.
You’re also figuring out which of the ones who might buy are ready for you to approach them directly and which are better off undergoing lead nurturing through your marketing team first.
When you’re done, you should have a list of leads who are primed for purchase and who you feel very confident you will be able to sell to.
The Key to Success: Good Data
Lead qualification is an excellent strategy that won’t let you down, but it’s not something you can just start doing without doing any preparation beforehand.
In order to use it, you need to know as much as possible about each of your leads right from the start.
Gathering the right data as early as possible will help to keep you from wasting your time pursuing leads that aren’t going to purchase from you no matter what you do.
This approach is proven to pay off; top-performing salespeople are 1.6 times more likely to be using data to figure out which leads are worth approaching.
If you’re out in the field when you come into contact with a lead, though – say, at a networking event you’re attending – you may find it difficult to collect data with the necessary level of detail and follow-up with your leads and contacts in a timely and efficient manner.
That’s where our ebCard lead capturing app can come in handy.
With it, you will be able to scan lead and contact data, creating a digital record of their contact information.
That information forms the basis of a contact profile, but that isn’t all you can include in there.
You can also add in specific attributes for each contact so that you have more comprehensive data on them available to you later on.
Small additional details like the person’s budget, their company size or even their approximate age can all be extremely useful in making sure your lead qualification process is accurate and helpful.
And with one click, all this data is sent to your CRM, sales and marketing tools to immediately start the nurturing and conversion processes.
Prioritize Your Marketing and Sales Activities
By now, you know what is lead qualification, why it matters and how it works.
Marketers and sales know how valuable data is to grow revenue. They use connected tools with clear processes to make sure that they can use that resource as efficiently as possible.
When you know exactly which leads are most likely to convert into customers, you know where your expertise and your efforts can have the greatest impact.
In our next post, we’ll go into more detail about how lead scoring works and how you can put it into practice for yourself.
Come back soon to learn more, and think about joining us to get more tips and advice to hone your sales skills even more.
If you are interested in adding to your recipe a tool that helps you capture, qualify, and automatically follow-up with leads and contacts from events, try ebCard data capturing mobile app now.
You can start your nurturing and converting processes directly from the event floor.