How to qualify sales leads is the key task facing most marketers and sales professionals. Certainly, where the value of sale is elevated, the more you profile your target audience, and encourage prospects into your world, the better. Achieving sales objectives is a time-consuming business and filling the sales funnel with tyre-kickers and time-wasters is far from ideal.
As a consequence, having a robust process for lead qualification is essential.
You Can’t Control Inbound Leads
Yet, it can be challenging to identify which leads are worth pursuing. Qualifying leads is a critical part of the lead generation process. Leads that arrive at your door through content creation and distribution, or paid ads may well be perfect, though that’s unlikely.
Despite your best efforts, some folk that fill out contact forms on your website just aren’t in the market for your products and services. You need to filter the wheat from the chaff. And, doing that can be a challenging task. Unfortunately, though, it’s a task that needs doing swifty. If you don’t follow-up quickly, valuable leads could go cold. But, which ones are the best? If you don’t pursue them all, you won’t know. Not everyone provides all the info you request, and some put false info just to receive your download.
Fast Qualification is Essential
A tight, swift call is what’s needed. Here are some startling statistics about the importance of follow-up:
- According to a study by the Harvard Business Review, companies that respond to leads within an hour are 7 times more likely to qualify the lead than companies that respond after an hour, and more than 60 times as likely as companies that wait 24 hours or longer.
- A study by InsideSales.com found that 35-50% of sales go to the vendor that responds first.
- The same study by InsideSales.com found that the odds of contacting a lead decrease by over 10 times in the first hour after the lead is generated.
- In a survey by Velocify, 78% of customers buy from the company that responds to them first.
Define Your Ideal Customer Profile
For every marketing channel, profiling is crucial. If you don’t know who and where your target customers are, how will you be able to find and attract them? It’s really tough to try to sell anything to anyone. Therefore, whatever means you use for lead generation, everything starts with targeting.
Yet, once the leads start to flow, a further level of qualification is needed. That’s to establish which ones are most valuable, and which ones to distribute to your sales professionals.
Before you start making follow-up calls, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of your ideal customer profile. This includes demographics, firmographics, pain points, and challenges. By defining your ideal customer profile, you can target your efforts more effectively and increase the chances of generating high-quality leads.
Ask the Right Questions
Asking the right questions is critical to qualifying leads effectively. Open-ended questions are particularly effective because they allow the potential customer to provide more detailed information about their needs and pain points.
Closed questions aren’t bad. Yes or no answers to these kinds of questions help steer the direction of the conversation. But, ensuring that you follow these with more open questions is likely to provide the right blend to keep the conversation flowing.
A few questions you might ask include the following areas::
- What prompted prospects to consider your product/service?
- What are the specific pain points or challenges they’re facing?
- What’s their timeline for making a decision?
- What are they using/doing currently?
- What alternative solutions have they sought?
- What’s their budget?
- Who are the decision-makers in the process?
Of course, there are tons of questions you could ask. The key is to recognise that it’s supposed to be a two-way conversation so, resist the urge to swamp them with every piece of information on what you offer.
No Pain: No Gain
One of the most effective ways to qualify leads is to focus on pain points and challenges. If the leads you’re qualifying are inbound leads, it’s much easier since they’ve come to you. You’ll need to work much harder if the lead is cold.
By understanding the potential customer’s pain points and challenges, you can position your product or service as a solution to their problems. This can help to build trust and increase the chances of converting the lead into a customer.
Use a Lead Scoring System
Presumably, you have criteria for what makes a great long-term customer as opposed to one that is a low-spending, infrequent buyer.
A lead scoring system can help you to prioritise leads based on their fit to your target profile, and the level of interest and engagement. Lead scoring is a process of assigning a numerical value to each lead based on their behaviour and engagement with your company. This can help you to identify which leads are worth pursuing and which ones you should focus less attention on.
This can include the number of touchpoints with that prospect. For example, if they’ve opened 3 emails, connected with you on LinkedIn, clicked on your links and filled out a form, that probably means they will gain a favourable score. If they also provide a sizable budget, that may take them up to the top of your chart.
Ongoing Follow Up
Not every buyer is ready to buy. Some are in the research phase. Some will never buy. We mentioned the importance of swift follow-up earlier. But, following-up doesn’t only relate to the immediate time period. If the profile is right, continuously drip-feeding communication is an important part of the lead management process. ,
It’s essential to stay top of mind with potential customers, and to nurture them through the sales funnel. By following up regularly with a periodic call at an agreed time, and through providing valuable content and information, you can increase the chances of converting the lead into a customer down the line.
Make Sure Someone Owns the Process
Ultimately, it is crucial for someone to own the responsibility for the sales qualification process. By doing so, it helps to ensure that leads are properly evaluated and prioritised, and that sales resources are allocated effectively. Without a clear owner, there is a risk of inconsistency and inefficiency in the way that leads are evaluated, and valuable sales opportunities may be missed. By assigning ownership for the sales qualification process, a company can establish clear criteria and processes for evaluating leads, and ensure that all sales representatives are aligned and working towards the same goals. This can ultimately lead to better sales performance and increased revenue.
In conclusion, qualifying leads effectively through telemarketing is critical to the success of your lead generation efforts. By defining your ideal customer profile, asking the right questions, focusing on pain points and challenges, using a lead scoring system, following up, and monitoring metrics, you can increase the chances of generating high-quality leads and converting them into customers. With the right approach, telemarketing can be a powerful tool for growing your business.