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- Sales prospecting 101
- What are sales leads?
- What is a sales qualified lead (SQL) and why is it important?
- Lead funnel definition, stages, and strategy
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The ultimate lead qualification checklist in just 5 questions
By Amanda Roosa, Staff Writer
Last updated March 13, 2022
Identifying the attributes that constitute a qualified lead can be a complicated process, especially if your product caters to a wide variety of customers. Your sales reps need a clear and structured strategy to ensure their lead qualification process is both consistent and reliable.
A lead qualification checklist establishes the criteria and step-by-step framework your team needs to ensure the leads they work have the highest probability of becoming future customers. Sales reps will spend less time on unqualified leads who slip through the cracks, and more time closing.
Let’s start by explaining what lead qualification is, along with why a checklist is beneficial to the process. From there, we’ll talk about how to build your own lead qualification checklist and how to scale it as your pipeline grows.
What is lead qualification, and why is it important?
Lead qualification is the process of assessing a lead’s purchasing potential. It’s similar to lead scoring (which lead scoring software helps with). This evaluation is based on a list of must-have buying criteria, such as the interest in and ability to buy your product. New leads who enter the sales pipeline are either qualified or disqualified, depending on whether or not they meet these criteria.
Lead qualification is designed to separate the potential customers from the duds. It allows reps to spend their days as productively as possible, focusing their efforts on the prospects who have the highest likelihood of converting. Good prospecting tools can get you close, but reliable lead qualification gets you over the finish line.
What is the benefit of a lead qualification checklist?
If you’ve ever used a to-do list, you know how much more manageable a day’s worth of work is when it’s broken down into individual tasks. When it comes to lead qualification, your checklist has the same effect.
Think about it. Every lead has to be assessed for multiple different attributes in order to be qualified. Without a structured process to follow, it can be hard to know where to start. And the longer your list of leads, the more overwhelming the process can feel.
A checklist breaks this process down step-by-step, making it feel more manageable and strategic. Plus, a checklist keeps your qualification process consistent.
Your sales reps will be aligned on what constitutes a qualified lead, and the physical act of checking off boxes will ensure that no key attributes go unassessed. As a result, you reduce the chances of unqualified leads slipping through the cracks.
So, what should be on your lead qualification checklist?
The five questions your lead qualification checklist should ask
Your checklist should be a list of all the characteristics that define your target customer. At the very least, it should include the most basic requirements for purchasing a product. Start by adding the following questions to your checklist. When evaluating a lead, you should be able to check every box off as a yes. If not, they shouldn’t be considered a qualified lead — at least not right now.
Let’s talk about why these five questions should be on your checklist, along with how you can find the answers to each.
1. Is the person truly interested in what I’m selling?
Anyone who’s worked in lead generation will tell you it’s hit or miss. Sometimes, even inbound leads aren’t sincerely interested in buying your product. That’s of course why good lead generation tools are so important.
That’s because not every lead who downloads a resource on your website or views the pricing page is there to buy your product. Maybe all they want is your ebook, or maybe they are a competitor wanting to know how your pricing compares to theirs.
To find out if your lead is truly interested in what you’re selling, you’ll need to do a little digging. Gauge your lead’s level of interest by asking them the following questions. This can be done via email, phone, or your website’s built-in chat:
- Are you looking to purchase a [product or product type]?
- (If they’ve landed on your pricing page): Can I help you get started with one of our pricing plans?
- (If they’ve downloaded a resource from the website): Are you interested in learning more about [resource topic]?
If your lead answers no to any of the questions above, it’s an automatic disqualification. If they don’t respond at all, consider following up via email. If you still don’t get a response after a sales followup email, it’s likely your lead is not interested and should be disqualified.
Just remember, not every prospect captured by website activity or a lead form should be pursued. Reach out to make sure they’re truly interested in buying your product. Otherwise, you’ll end up spending valuable time on leads who never should have been in the pipeline in the first place.
2. Do they have a use for my product?
As a sales rep, it might seem like a no-brainer to qualify a lead who shows excitement about the idea of buying your product. But there’s a big difference between wanting a product and having a use for it.
Consumers tend to be more driven by the “want” in the early stages of their buying journey. The “do I really have a use for it” logic might not come into play until further down the road. But that is a problem for sales reps, because they could end up spending valuable time working an interested lead who ultimately decides they don’t really need your product.
Save yourself the headache by assessing whether or not your lead has a use for your product from the get-go. Start by asking your prospect the following questions:
- What are your current challenges?
- What are your immediate and long-term goals?
- What roadblocks do you anticipate will hold you back from achieving those goals?
Once you know what your lead’s specific goals and challenges are, you can assess whether or not your product is capable of meeting those needs. From there, it’s time to talk about budget.
3. Do they have enough money to buy what I’m selling?
Money can be a sensitive subject to bring up with a lead. Some people prefer to keep their finances private, and some think it’s rude to bring up at all. But the fact is, you shouldn’t pursue a lead if buying your product isn’t within their budget.
So how do you know if you can check off the “budget” box on your lead qualification checklist? Approach the topic delicately by asking the following questions:
- What solution/product are you currently using? (This will give you an idea of what they’re currently spending.)
- Do you feel like you’re paying a reasonable price for your current solution/product?
- What is your ideal price range?
If you’re assessing the budget of a B2B lead, you can also research their business profile to estimate their budget. LinkedIn and Indeed will often list how many employees a company has, as well as its average revenue and its salary ranges. Using these figures, you can make an educated guess on whether the business is able to invest in your product or service.
4. Is now the best time for them to buy what I’m selling?
This lead qualifier isn’t as black-and-white as the others on our list. That’s because timing is relative and dynamic. Just because a lead isn’t ready to purchase right now doesn’t mean they won’t be ready three months or a year from now.
For those who are ready to buy right now, mark them as qualified. If your lead is a yes to questions 1-3 but says the timing isn’t right, make a note to follow up with them. To make sure you follow up at the right time, ask them when they think they’ll be ready to purchase.
To find out if now is the best time for your lead to buy your product, ask the following questions:
- Where are you in the buying journey? Are you still doing initial research, or have you started comparing prices and vendors?
- Do you have any obligations coming up that might hinder your ability to buy the product?
- What is your time frame? Are you looking to purchase two weeks from now? Six to eight months from now? Next year?
Stick to qualifying the leads who indicate they’re ready to purchase now or within the next month. But remember: don’t completely discount a lead just because the timing isn’t right. They may be ready to buy the next time you follow up with them.
5. Are they the ultimate decision-maker?
If you work in B2B sales, you know that making a sale requires getting approval from the ultimate decision-maker at a company. But identifying if your lead is that person is not always easy.
Sometimes your lead’s job title clearly signals purchasing authority. For example, C-level executives can often make the call on whether to purchase a product. But if you aren’t sure, you can always ask the following questions to assess if your lead holds purchasing authority:
- Who decides what [product or service] the company should use?
- Who should I speak with to discuss solutions for [problem your product solves]?
Keep in mind that B2B companies with more than 100 employees involve an average of seven people in the decision-making process. So if you’re speaking to a medium-size business, you may be directed to a group of people. Factor that into your lead qualifying questions by following up with “Is there anyone else I should speak with?” once someone is suggested.
We’ve covered the most basic attributes to include in your lead qualification checklist. But what happens to this document when your business scales and your pipeline grows?
How to take your lead qualification checklist to the next level
While the five questions above should be included on every lead qualification checklist, they don’t cater to a unique customer type or product. Take your checklist to the next level by getting hyperspecific with your lead attributes. Here are a few ways to do it.
Refine your checklist with “unqualified reasons”
If you can identify the common reasons your leads are being disqualified, you refine your checklist to be more specific to your unique customer base.
To start, anytime a lead is disqualified, record why on an “unqualified reasons” list. If, at the end of the month, a large number of leads were disqualified for the same reason, it could mean that your checklist isn’t specific enough.
Here’s an example.
After a month of recording unqualified reasons, you discover that 80% of your leads were lost because they “didn’t have a use for your product.” Take a look at your current customers. Are they all in a similar industry or role? If so, consider narrowing your “Is there a need” attribute to “Do they work in X industry?”
If you have a better understanding of why your leads are dropping off, you’ll be able to refine your checklist to more closely match your unique customer base.
Get super-specific with data enrichment
Creating a more detailed, more accurate lead qualification checklist doesn’t have to create more work for your sales reps. With data enrichment, all you need is an email address to autopopulate detailed lead information into your CRM tool. With this information, you can evaluate your checklist criteria with little to no research on your end.
CRM tools like Sell offer built-in enrichment tools that allow you to autopopulate detailed contact information directly into a lead’s contact card.
Getting more specific with your checklist doesn’t have to mean any additional research for your reps. Take your lead qualification checklist to the next level the easy way with data enrichment.
Build a more efficient lead qualification process with our five-question checklist
Lead qualification is complicated. Often, it involves assessing leads for a multitude of attributes, which can get messy if there’s no strategy or framework for doing so. But it’s an important part of a good lead management system.
With a lead qualification checklist, your organization has a tool for staying aligned, organized, and accurate when it comes to evaluating prospects. Start with the five questions mentioned above. From there, take your checklist to the next level by making it specific and unique to your target audience.
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