Not qualifying your sales leads is like looking for a needle in a haystack.
Your future customers are on the list somewhere – but your sales team has no idea where to find them. Fumbling around for clients simply isn't an option. Your company needs to learn how to qualify sales leads so your sales staff can focus their energy on selling to people who are likely to buy your products.
The lead qualification process is essentially the introduction of a strategic approach to sales. Like any other strategy, it requires a significant amount of planning and total buy-in from everyone in the organization. From the CEO to customer service staff, all of your employees should have a general understanding about how to qualify a sales lead in your business.
Technology can – and typically does – play a central role in lead qualification. CRMs and other business applications include features that facilitate lead qualification and can be customized to fit your unique selling environment. If the idea of qualifying leads is new to you, here is a rough outline of the process to get you started.
- Identify key prospects. Lead qualification begins by identifying key prospects. Remember: A prospect is anyone who has taken an action that demonstrates interest in your company, but hasn't necessarily indicated an interest in buying your products yet. Direct contact and information gathering from key prospects will quickly separate the genuine leads from the tire-kickers.
- Locate prospects. If you don't have a list of prospects to work from, you'll need to inject your company's presence into the places where the most promising prospects tend to congregate. If you're selling athletic gear, talk to the manager at the local gym. If you're selling medical supplies, visit local medical office complexes. The idea is to put your company's name and contact information in front of as many potential prospects as possible.
- Assess motivation. Once you've identified legitimate leads (i.e. people who expressed an interest in your products), you'll need to assess their motivation. Some of your leads will be interested in your product because they are attracted to its unique features. Others may be more interested in a competitor's product and are looking for a price comparison. When it comes to lead qualification, motivation is often the critical factor.
- Determine prospect needs. Even though a person may be motivated to buy your product, there is no guarantee that your product is capable of meeting their needs. Talk to the lead about their expectations for the product. If it's a good fit, go for the close. If not, be honest with them and move on to another lead.
- Evaluate timing. In many cases, motivated leads have a genuine need for your product, but lack the ability to do anything about it right now. Gauge the timing of each lead and if necessary, put them in a tickler file to be revisited at a later date.