Qualifying prospects look like a guessing game for the sales department.
It should not be a shot in the dark – on the contrary, you want to make your sales process more predictable. Therefore, defining a sales process as a mathematical formula suits more than a guessing game.
An effective lead qualification process commences with a piece of solid data-backed knowledge about your ideal customer.
How can you prepare an actionable system to identify the best leads with high chances to convert? We asked our sales department as to what makes a great lead for them.
Before you get to our tried-and-tested rules, let me start with a small disclaimer. This is just our case study – yours will certainly be different as the qualification criteria depend on various factors: business type, product, industry and many more.
But, why should you continue reading then?
We have nailed our qualification system with a solid strategy in mind.
You can also follow this strategy and just execute or improve your criteria. I will describe strategic points that applies to all business types when illustrating them with examples from our sales process.
Ready to get down to strategy?
#1 On-page traffic
For our sales department, a crucial point is on-page traffic due to the type of SaaS solution we offer.
This can be done with
paid solutions (Google and Facebook ads, sponsored email campaigns)
organic activities (content creation and promotion with social media, SEO strategy).
For a case that we analyzed in the past, we discovered that more the under-utilized traffic that there is on a prospect’s website, the more they can benefit from the tool.
Compare a website that gets close to zero traffic with a page that gets 100k hits per month.
The latter is in a much better situation, but it’s important to keep in mind that high under-utilized traffic won’t convert by itself.
Once you have a steady flow of traffic, you want to monetize it.
To make that happen, you should get high-quality hot leads, ready to talk to your sales department. That’s the moment where CallPage can step in and facilitate the inbound call with your lead and decrease the lead response time.
The case we mentioned earlier, refers to Kamaz. They produce heavy-duty trucks. The goal of the Marketing manager was to utilize high volumes of traffic and initiate calls with the sales department to later convert them into visits to a local dealership.
All they did was install the CallPage widget and the results are there to see.
What’s a lesson for any other business trying to polish their qualification criteria?
Quick strategy lesson
Products should solve the business problem of their clients.
If your product gives clients quick wins and they can see results fast, this creates an instant value and in turn an opportunity for any business to upsell in the future and increase the client’s lifetime value.
To put it simply - you help your clients succeed by reducing their pain and increasing business benefits.
As a result, the client is willing to use your services for longer.
Think of who in particular can benefit from your product the most.
Is it a specific type of client, company size or sector, or even a niche?
Engrave all the key criteria in your qualification process.
Focus more on those clients who you can help genuinely and those who can see results from using your products faster.
#2 Decision-making power
One of the key aspects of sales reps in CallPage is to consider the ‘decision-making power’.
Key decision makers are usually VPs or Heads of Marketing or Sales. Of course, C-suite employees might never use a tool directly or wouldn’t even install it.
Instead, they will hand it over to one of their associates/managers in the Marketing or sales team who would eventually execute it.
Their job is to make sure that the solution will help generate a surplus of hot leads and results in more sales.
Even if the C-suite employees are not the end users of the software, they hold a hand over the ‘buy button’. However, users’ and influencers’ clout shouldn’t be ignored as influencers play an increasingly more important role in affecting decisions of their higher-ups.
There are influencers in various departments, ranging from HR to IT, on an average there are 3.1 to 4.6 groups in organizations that influence the end decision.
Decision-makers and influencers may take different roles in different sectors.
A good sales rep is able to define them fast and find ways on how to break through gatekeepers to reach those who will influence a decision and eventually approve the purchase.
Quick strategy lesson
Identify the company structure in your sales process at the initial stage, analyze who has the most decision-making power and who might influence a decision-maker.
You might even want to draft the organization structure of each customer segment on a whiteboard and document it for your sales team.
In addition, this will be particularly useful for new employees during the onboarding process.
Include decision-making and influencer criteria to your qualification process.
Also, make sure you don’t omit the role of users who will be using your product or service on a daily basis – they are the ones who are tasked with delivering the KPIs and report to the decision-maker on the efficiency of the purchased product.
#3 First conversion
In this study, the third qualification criteria are the aspect of the first conversion.
The sales reps have identified the most valuable prospects in the form of those who come out from registration for a demo or trail or submitted the ‘contact us’ form.
These leads are the hottest and easiest to convert.
They are also the leads with the shortest sales cycle.
However, another type of ‘first conversion’ could be sign-ups through lead magnets such as free materials, guidebooks, whitepapers, cheatsheets, and ebooks as well as registration from free webinars, or a sign-up for after-webinar materials.
Content marketing revolves around problems and challenges the product solves, targeted at influencers and decision-makers in ‘warming up’ the leads and provide them with the necessary knowledge about their problems and the ways to solve them.
Therefore, it is much better to attract sales qualified leads that are more educated about their business problem and are aware of the solutions available in the market.
Imagine yourself in two situations. The first, a lead acquired through a paid ads campaign on Facebook, having no idea about your product and how it can help them.
The second, where there’s a lead that has attended your webinar that answered the burning questions and raised awareness about the product.
The latter will convert faster, while the former would still need a huge dosage of education in the form of drip campaigns or require exposure to more free content available on your blog and social media.
This will take time.
But you want to get leads that convert faster.
Reach out to the low-hanging fruits, but don’t lose your hot leads.
Quick strategy lesson
Sales departments shouldn’t underestimate the effort of the marketing team as they can provide warmer and nurtured leads that will convert faster and require less effort from the sales reps.
Using a CRM you can track what materials created by your marketing team have been downloaded.
You can see the reports, ebooks, and articles your leads read or download, or which webinars they attend.
This provides you with a wide array of information about topic clusters your leads are most interested in.
This, in turn, will help your sales team relate to the needs and challenges during the ‘introductory’ call.
Define what kind of conversion is key for your business and what are the touchpoints your leads have with your company.
There are no one-fits-all qualification criteria.
What stays the same for every business is that the qualification criteria should be based on rich data about your customers.
It also means you should understand who can benefit from your product and achieve first optimistic results faster than the rest of your customer segments.
Lead qualification criteria should reflect the ideal persona characteristics.
Disqualifying leads from a sales process early is not bad.
It’s better to focus on the small number of high-quality hot leads rather than attracting big numbers that won’t convert or will churn eventually.
What are your lead qualification criteria and are you working on making them more specific?
Share your learnings in the comments below.