How to qualify leads?

How to qualify leads?

If your IT company already has a lead generation process, you probably already faced the lead qualification issue. In this article, we will look at how to see if the lead generator gives a quality lead to the sales team and why the sales department then cannot “close the deal”.

🟪 How to qualify a lead?

To solve this problem, a BANT qualification was invented. It allows each of the participants in the process to determine the “quality” of a lead.

BANT stands for:

  • Budget – the lead provides the information that they are going to order IT services, or it is possible to independently understand this by analysing the tenders on the company’s website;
  • Authority – at least one contact from those participating in the communication is of the Director level or higher;
  • Need – identification of a specific problem that can be solved using the company’s technology or expertise;
  • Timing – the potential customer demonstrates an understanding of the duration of the development process, and the project descriptively corresponds to the expected duration.

These allow formulating clear criteria to qualify a lead. If a lead meets the Need + 1 criterion from the list, it can be marked as Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) and transferred to the sales department.

After that, the lead is further qualified and, if it meets all four criteria according to the BANT classification, the lead becomes Sales Qualified Lead (SQL). If less than 50% of leads transferred as MQL become SQL, then you should look for a problem on the side of the sales and marketing departments to correct the situation and raise the conversion level of MQL to SQL.

🟪 Questions to ask when qualifying a lead

Further success in “closing” a deal with the particular lead depends on how correct the communication is at the initial stage.

  1. How to clarify BUDGET?
    Probably, “what’s your budget?” is the strangest question to ask during the first few stages of communication. It is best to ask if there is a project technical assignment, offer assistance with a preliminary budget estimate, and determine the client’s expectations for the project cost. That’s okay if the lead is not ready yet to answer questions about the budget. There are two more criteria (besides the mandatory Need) that can be clarified.

  2. How to understand Authority?
    This is probably the simplest criterion that can be clarified even on your own by simply looking at information about a person in a search engine and finding their profile on LinkedIn. After that, it is essential to clarify whether the lead is still working in this company in a certain position.

  3. Need Importance
    Need is the most important criterion when qualifying a lead. After all, if you do not clarify this point at the very beginning, then already during the call, you can find out that they only consider .NET and you are a Java company. In addition, some other “surprises” may emerge that will only result in the loss of the client and the company employees’ time.

  4. Timing
    The main thing you need to know about this criterion is that the client’s expectations should at least approximately coincide with the real-time needed for project development. If a client needs “Google in 1 month”, it is better to shake hands immediately and wish good luck since this project has no chance to succeed.

🟪 Implementation of leadership qualifications in CRM

We recommend using the following lead statuses in your CRM system:

  • Contact us – here you need to add all Research Qualified Leads, i.e., leads who responded to cold outreach messages, filled out a form on the site, or contacted the company in any other way. It is best to automate this process using internal CRM automation or third-party services, such as Zapier or Integromat.
  • MQL (Marketing Qualified Leads). Here you can transfer leads that have passed at least two points according to the BANT classification (Budget, Authority, Need, Timeline) described above.
  • Call – this item is usually needed exactly for the lead qualification. In general, it also helps to establish communication with a potential client and find out quickly whether the lead is worth transferring to the next status.
  • SQL (Sales Qualified Lead) – there was a call or a correspondence with the lead and, accordingly, there is a reason to confirm that the lead meets the BANT criteria.
  • Negotiation is self-explanatory: the lead was qualified, and the team started discussing the details of the future deal.
  • Closed Deal is the favourite item for all salespeople. Ideally, leads that made a deal with a company should move into the account manager’s parallel “pipeline.” This particular employee is responsible for maintaining good relationships with customers and “upsell” – additional sales.
  • Contact in the future – very often, potential leads ask to repeat the contact (to call or send a message) after a while. We recommend setting a reminder for this lead-in CRM and creating a separate pipeline for such leads to keep them separate and always be in their sight: from time to time, email them with information about the company or a new article on your blog.

Remaining in such a way in the client’s sight guarantees that when the agreed time for subsequent contact comes, they will remember the company and, thanks to mailings, will already have information about the company and the services provided.

You can read our article on the main lead generation channels on our blog:

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