How Do You Qualify Your Leads?

In working with my clients on their lead qualification, I’m often left with the question, “Why don’t we qualify our leads better before jumping on a call with them?”

Without having any sort of lead qualification process in place, you’re essentially giving prospects – whether a good fit for your services or not – free reign over your time. Anyone can get on your schedule if left entirely up to them, regardless of if that relationship will contribute to your goals or boost your bottom line.

I’m willing to bet that if you’re not qualifying your leads, your sales conversations and time management have become sources of frustration and discouragement. Not only does lead qualification help us optimize our precious time by proactively weeding out which prospects might be a good fit for our services, but also by allowing us to determine the best approach to any given sales conversation before picking up the phone or logging into that Zoom meeting.

Next time you look at your sales system and processes, I encourage you to check in on your lead qualification process. Is it successfully capturing potential clients who would be a good fit for your services? Do you even have one in place at all? 

If you answered no to either of these questions, keep on reading! While we’ll mainly focus on the part of lead qualification around preparing for the sales conversation, it’s important to note that the process starts much earlier in the client journey.

How do I qualify my leads?

If you don’t have any sort of lead qualification in place, I can’t emphasize how important it is to implement one.

For the novices out there: remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Your lead qualification process is naturally going to need refining as you collect data and see what works, so the most important thing is to start somewhere.

Your initial lead qualification process can be as simple as having prospects fill out a form with basic information or answer a quick questionnaire on your website that offers insights into their business and the gaps or challenges they’re experiencing. Not only will the responses themselves help you identify who might be a good fit for your services, but the prospect’s approach to the form can also offer valuable insights. For example, if someone answers the questionnaire with only one-word answers, are they really engaged enough to be a good partner in the long term?

Once you’ve captured some initial data and had a few sales conversations, make sure you’re performing regular audits to understand how the process is working and whether or not it’s capturing the information you need to make the best use of both your and your prospects’ time. Then, adjust any areas that need improvement. 

As you’re auditing, remember that the ultimate goal here is not simply achieving more efficiency, but also ensuring that your prospects feel you’re fully focused on them and customizing the conversation to their specific needs.

Why should I qualify my leads?

It sets your team up for success.

Lead qualification helps you make the most of both your time and your team’s time. If you’re compensating your sales team based on their time, who they’re speaking to, or the number of sales they’re able to close, you’re essentially setting them up for failure if you’re not capturing prospects who would have a need for your services or realistically be able to afford them.

It positions you as the expert.

Many of the business owners and entrepreneurs I’ve worked with have admitted that they feel a need to convince the prospect to work with them or prove they’re a worthy, qualified partner when going into sales conversations. Implementing a lead capture form or questionnaire can proactively position you as the expert so you feel more confident going into the conversation.

How, you might ask? It’s all about asking the right questions. When you’re able to tap into someone’s needs or provoke them to think about their business in a different way, you’re already providing value, distinguishing what you do and how you do it as different, and showing a potential client you understand them, even before picking up the phone.

It sets expectations for your prospects.

Lead qualification not only helps you feel more confident, but it also helps your prospects enter into the conversation more prepared.

Answering a set of questions before the call sets the stage for the conversation, allowing your clients to consider all the important aspects of the problem or gap they’re bringing to the table and alleviating some of the concerns or doubts that naturally arise with doing something new. Ultimately, they’ll feel more empowered to make the best decision for them (which, of course, we all hope is a resounding “YES!”).

When your clients are prepared and know what to expect from the conversation, you’ll walk away with much deeper and clearer insights as well so you can truly understand if someone is the right fit and how to best serve them.

Looking for more valuable insights on your lead qualification or sales process in general? Subscribe to the Straight Talk About Sales podcast on your favorite streaming service.

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