Every new sales inquiry feels so energizing, doesn’t it?

You read the email and immediately picture the opportunities ahead. You feel the excitement of working with a new client already. Not to mention the boost in revenue…

But then, a couple of phone calls or emails later, the lead turns out a dud.

They never had the money to work with you in the first place. Lacked the authority to hire your MSP. Or never had an urgent project for an IT company in the first place.

And you’ve just wasted time and effort trying to close the deal.

That’s the side effect of doing the marketing right. It will attract many leads. But not all of them will present an immediate opportunity to become customers.

So, the trick is to tell them apart as quickly as possible.

In this post, we’ll show you how to do it.

You’ll discover how to develop a simple strategy to qualify new leads. And in turn, know who are the high-quality leads on which to focus.

But first…

What Does It Mean to Qualify a Lead, Exactly?

Lead qualification is a process of filtering new inquiries to identify the high-quality leads and eliminate low-quality ones. The key to the process is evaluating each inquiry to determine whether a new lead matches the ideal client profile and has a chance of becoming a customer.

In short, lead qualification helps you tell apart good prospects from the duds.

And you do it, by analyzing each inquiry against pre-determined criteria. In fact, most companies use one of the two frameworks – BANT or CHAMP – to qualify their leads.

So, let’s go through them in turn.

The BANT Lead Qualification Framework

The BANT acronym stands for Budget, Authority, Need, and Timing.

If you decide to evaluate new leads against this framework, you’ll be looking for signals that confirm four factors:

  • That the person has the money to hire you,
  • The authority to sign off on the project,
  • A real need for your services, and
  • That hiring you is a priority for them and the company right now.

The CHAMP Framework for Qualifying Leads

In this framework, you analyze each new inquiry to uncover:

  • Challenges – Objectives a person might have for working with you.
  • Authority – Can they make the buying decision? And if not, who makes it?
  • Money – Do they have sufficient budget for the work?
  • Prioritization – When are they planning to start the work?

When you look closer, you’ll notice that both are quite similar. They focus on identifying factors suggesting that a new lead could become a customer relatively fast:

  • They have a problem you could solve,
  • The money to pay you,
  • And could sign off on the work fast.

lead qualification

(image source)

But although each framework looks promising, there is a problem:

Most leads won’t share this information with you in their initial inquiry, right?

They might mention their problem. Naturally, they’d include their name, email, and perhaps role in the company, if you asked for it on the lead capture form.

So, what do you do? How do you qualify a lead without all this information? Particularly, if you’d like to do so before you engage with them any further…

Let me show you.

#1. Identify Lead Quality Criteria

Remember what we said about the goals for lead qualification? The process helps evaluate how close to your ideal client profile (ICP) a new lead is.

So, using your ICP as a guide, you can develop lead quality criteria. And then, evaluate each new inquiry against them.

Now, of course, those criteria would differ between businesses. But in general, they could include any of the following:

Characteristic-based criteria

These include anything that describes a lead, their company, and its characteristics. For example:

  • Role/Job Title
  • Responsibilities within the company (who do they report to, their department, how likely this dept. is to buy from you…)
  • Industry
  • Company size, and other factors that match your ideal client persona.
  • Location

Behavior-based signals

In those factors, you look at the lead’s current situation, and engagement with your brand to determine their quality. For example:

  • What service they inquired about. Have they made a specific request or sent a general inquiry?
  • How well they’ve described the problem?
  • What stage of the buying journey they’re at, potentially?

Engagement signals

These criteria relate to a lead’s previous interaction with your brand. Are they someone who just stumble onto your website in search? Or have they been researching you for a while?

You can uncover it by researching:

  • Have they visited your site before? You can analyze the inquiry traffic in Google Analytics, and determine whether a person is a new or returning visitor.
  • Have they downloaded your marketing materials before? Are they on your email list already?
  • Do they follow you on social media?
  • Have you met them before, perhaps at a trade show?

#2. Create a Lead Qualification Chart

Let’s make it clear first; you don’t have to create an actual chart, like an Excel spreadsheet.

That said, having a system to mark how many criteria a new lead meets helps.

You could create a simple checklist to use when evaluating each lead. The document would list all of the criteria you identified above.

With it, you could assess every new lead against each criterion one by one.

Naturally, not every lead would meet all your requirements. But having a checklist would help ensure they pass the most critical ones.

Over time, you’d probably memorize most of it anyway. And in turn, be able to qualify a lead without the help of a checklist.

For now, however, we’d strongly recommend developing a set of qualifying criteria and using it to evaluate every new inquiry.

Conclusion

Every new sales inquiry feels like an opportunity. Unfortunately, some of them offer no chance for growing your business. These companies might have an insufficient budget to hire you. Or the person reaching out to you lacks the authority to approve hiring you.

And so, to avoid wasting time on low-quality leads, consider developing a lead qualifying process.

And hopefully, you’re walking away from this article with knowledge on how to do that exactly.

 

 

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