Lead qualification is a systematic process to evaluate whether a buyer is a perfect match for your business or not. A qualification process filters thousands of opportunities and finds the best prospects who are able, ready, and willing to buy your products and services. Basically this process is to match every lead to Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) and determine whether there is a chance of becoming a long term customer or not. Lead Qualification is an integral part of the sales process.
Qualified leads vs Unqualified leads:
To distinguish between qualified and unqualified leads, you need to define all the factors on which you’ll examine leads and check whether they fulfill those conditions or not.
So, what are the common traits of qualified and unqualified leads?
- Are educated on your company and the solution that you offer
- Have a clearly defined budget to work with and afford the product or service you offer
- Are in control of their buying cycle, completing their educational research
- Have either completed or are in the process of completing the sales deal
- Have low churn rates after becoming customers because they closed the deal on their terms
- Are often not clear about what your company offers how it could potentially benefit them
- Are unable to afford the level of service that you offer
- Don’t know what solution they need
- Have sky-high churn rates even if you managed to convert them into customers
How does the qualification process work?
Traditionally, lead qualification has been a manual task performed by Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) in the early stages of the sales process. Reps would reach out to any and every lead coming in, asking them pre-determined questions to assess if they were a good fit for the product.
In the last few decades, there has been a number of different frameworks created based on different approaches to help reps qualify prospects. We have mentioned all the frameworks in the next section.
The lead qualification process is part of the sales cycle. First, the marketing team members gather potential leads’ contact information, including site visits, email subscriptions, and social media, to decide if they meet their ICP. Then they make the first contact via email, phone call, or face-to-face meeting. During it, sales reps find out about the leads’ needs, project timelines, purchasing authority, and any budgetary constraints.
Finally, the information gathered helps determine if leads and the business have a mutual fit. If yes - the team can move on to drafting a proposal.
BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, Timing): devised by IBM. This is the original lead qualification framework and is still used widely today. Potential BANT questions are:
- Do you have a specific budget allocated for this acquisition?
- Do you personally have the authority to make the buying decision?
- What are the top challenges, needs, and pain points that your team is facing at the moment?
- Is this a priority acquisition for your team at this time?
GPCTBA/C&I (Goals, Plans, Challenges, Timeline, Budget, Authority, Negative Consequences and Positive Implications): devised by HubSpot to put the sales rep in a more advisory role for informed buyers. Potential questions are:
- Do you have specific company goals?
- Are the resources in place right now for you to implement this plan?
- How are you currently dealing with these challenges?
- What's the timeline for the implementation of this plan?
- Is the budget already being used to solve the problem we’ve discussed?
- What concerns do you think the company's authoritative decision-makers will raise?
- What are the personal consequences or implications for you hitting your goal or not?
CHAMP (Challenges, Authority, Money, Prioritization): devised by InsightSquared. CHAMP starts with the challenges, the needs and pains, that the prospect is experiencing. Potential CHAMP questions are:
- What objectives are you looking to achieve by solving this pain? (Challenges)
- How are purchasing decisions made for products like ours and who is involved in looking at this solution? (Authority)
- What are your expectations for the investment necessary to purchase the solution? (Money)
- When were you planning on starting the implementation? (Prioritization)
Why disqualification isn’t bad?
On the surface, this seems like you might be leaving money on the table by not pursuing all leads. The natural instinct is to try to proceed with as many leads as possible, but this isn’t the best approach. The quality of your leads matters more than the quantity.
As a salesperson, your most precious asset is your time, and it’s far better to spend it on a handful of your best prospects than spreading yourself thin across dozens of leads. Trying to close every deal that comes along is only going to result in dead-ends with poor fit prospects, while you neglect prospects likely to buy.