From discovery calls to closing the deals, every Business-to-business (B2B) needs to work on qualifying their leads. Qualifying leads becomes a crucial part of the sales process as it will help you track their value and the other assessment factors you would need to apply to close the deals. The different levels of the sales cycle are sales-qualified leads, product-qualified leads, and marketing-qualified leads.

Evaluate the ability to pay, the account size, the interest, and the need for your product or subscription by identifying sales-qualified leads.

Identifying and updating your lead list could become a time-consuming process. It is necessary to go after the right prospects and convert them into paying customers. Here are some steps and understandings on how to qualify leads, why sales-qualified leads matter, and how to generate more sales-qualified leads (SQL).

What is a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)?

A Sales-qualified lead (SQL) is a prospective customer who has moved through the sales pipeline’s marketing-qualified phase. Now they are ready for the sales team to work on converting them into paying customers. This lead usually shows enough interest in your product or service that they are prepared to enter your sales process. Typically, the marketing department has investigated and approved the lead before sending them to your sales staff.

Generate more qualified leads with cold outreach!

Why do Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) Matter?

No matter how many names and emails you have in your database, a clear definition of the various lifecycle phases and a strong strategy for sales-qualified leads can help your business market and sell more effectively. This alignment with marketing will help you adopt better messaging based on your prospect’s interest and smoothly close the inbound interest. If you tailor the messaging and content to the different lifecycle stages of your SQL leads, your business will also be more successful in nurturing those leads. 

Once the organization and its sales team know the importance of the lead, they can assign ample resources to improve the customer experience and convert the prospect.

Why lead qualification and scoring are necessary?

According to various Gartner surveys, brands often fail to follow up effectively on 70% of their leads. That is a significant number as those could have become your paying customers and active product users.

If those reasons aren’t enough to convince you, here are some bullet points that will help you: 

  • You may prioritize which leads are the most beneficial to your organization with lead qualifying and scoring.
  • Determining the types of marketing messages that less valuable leads respond to helps you improve the quality of those leads.
  • Lead qualification and scoring unify the sales and marketing processes by indicating when each team should intervene in the sales cycle.
  • On the plus side, you cease wasting time, money, and other resources on leads with no chance of being converted into sales.
  • This boosts nearly every profit-related KPI across your sales and marketing initiatives, lowers your cost per sale, increases ROI, and raises conversion rates.
  • You can send users highly tailored communications when they move through the buying process using an intelligent lead qualifying and lead scoring system.
  • A more effective sales funnel may be made with this type of system, and you can leverage your insights to turn more leads into clients.
  • You will eventually be able to estimate the long-term prospective value of leads using your past data if you have a developed lead qualification and lead-scoring strategy in place.

Ultimately, it all boils down to developing a sales process that is more effective and lucrative at each level of the customer experience. Lead qualifying and scoring should be the first system you use to maximize your marketing and sales ROI.

Key Benefits of the Lead Qualification Process

We took a look at the importance of lead qualification and lead scoring system, but here are the benefits your get by qualifying leads at scale in your sales system :

time spent and streamlines lead generation processes

Through lead qualification, sales teams may zero in on the leads that are most useful to the company and avoid wasting time on inappropriate leads. Lead qualification shows crucial details like if the lead needs your product or service, what their pain points are, and whether they have the funds and power to make a purchasing choice.

Lead segmentation helps you keep the sales funnel clean

An effective lead qualifying system assigns ratings to leads based on behavioral and demographic traits, giving sales a precise and in-depth understanding of a lead’s business requirements. This crucial data will enable sales teams to comprehend how your organization can address a customer’s difficulty sets, which is crucial when prospective customers are making a purchase decision.

Focuses attention on worthwhile opportunities for sales to pursue

Sales halt because they are unable to distinguish between high-quality and low-quality leads. Sales may create distinctive and tailored pitches to leads by qualifying leads, all while avoiding the burden of prospecting a large number of low-quality leads.

It provides access to lead nurturing

According to Databox, 40–70%+ of eligible leads still aren’t prepared to make a purchase. Lead qualifying frequently exposes whether your business can offer advantages over rivals or the prospect’s present vendor. Lead qualifying is most effective when high-value leads are nurtured with relevant content and messages. You can achieve this only if you have qualifying leads.

Signs that your business needs lead qualifying right now!

Sign 1 : The first indication is that your sales funnel has stalled

You probably need to apply lead qualification tactics if your sales funnel has slowed to a crawl and the team frequently discovers a lead has no demand for your business’s goods and services.

Sign 2 : Marketing and sales have different ideas about what constitutes a quality lead

Both parties should know which leads are most valuable to your business. Implement a uniform lead qualifying process. This will prevent frequent conflicts and rejection by sales.

Sign 3 : Instead of making calls, salespeople spend more time organizing their leads

A sales team’s busy schedule is not always a good thing. If they are wasting time on administrative activities and lead management, they should use that time to close sales and engage quality leads.

How to create a successful lead qualification strategy & framework

Your company development strategy must include a robust lead qualification mechanism. The ultimate purpose of the lead qualification is to give a score. If a lead has a high enough score compared to your ideal buyer profile, sales should be able to contact them. 

Step 1: Create buyer personas and segment leads

You can distinguish between two types of leads, which are crucial for boosting prospect conversions by using lead qualifying. Sales prospecting will help you identify buyer personas and define new segments for them.

  • Lead qualified for marketing (MQL)

    A lead who interacts with your company through your website, social media, webinars, or advertisement is a marketing-qualified lead (MQL). While these are encouraging signs that people are considering your products and services, they do not necessarily indicate that they are prepared to buy or consent to receiving sales calls. When an MQL is prepared to speak with the sales staff and is considering buying, they transform into SQLs.

  • Lead qualified for sales (SQL)

    A lead with the highest level of purchase intent is called Sales qualified lead (SQL). This type of lead browses several pages on your website, looks at the product pages, downloads brochures, attends webinars, chats with chatbots, subscribes to your newsletter, and potentially does more.
    Your sales staff should concentrate on sales-qualified leads as they have demonstrated the most interest in purchasing your goods or service. You can choose which leads you should contact by using the following procedures.

  •  Segmenting Leads

    Gather the leads that your marketing and sales efforts have produced first. The next step is to divide them up into several lists. This depends on the criteria indicating purchase intent. What ought these classifications be? Every organization has its high-level segments, but typical ones include leaders falling into the following categories.

    • Geographic
      For instance, a nation, a region, a state, and a city.
    • Demographic
      Age, education, and gender are a few examples.
    • Attitude
      Examples include product preferences and interests.
    • Technology
      Desktop, mobile, applications, hardware, and software, as examples.
    • Behavioral
      For instance, past interactions with competitors and product or service usage.
    • Needs
      Consider the concerns and values of a product.
    • Value
      For instance, financial worries and ideals.
  • The secret to segment planning is to start on a broad level.

    For example, do the characteristics of this prospect match those of my industry and demography? You can then build segments around it. Next, think more specifically and consider issues like firm size, industry job description, and previous purchases.

  • Keep in mind that you can only receive this information via leads.

    Keep that in mind while developing landing pages and gated content that requests leads to fill out forms. Consider adding a few extra fields relevant to your lead qualification strategy. That is in addition to the expected standard variables, such as name, address, industry, and email address. For instance, “Have you ever used products from the XX industry”?
    This will allow you to target your leads depending on how they view the worth of your products and services. When they are broken down into manageable chunks, you will find it easier to score them. Also, it is easier to get practical feedback on what makes a good one and what makes a terrible one.
    As you gain more knowledge about each sector, you can examine your marketing tactics and improve your messaging.

  • Customer personalities and traits

    The next step is to develop buyer personas using the information points from your segmented data.
    The prospect performing well on your lead scoring system is the client you expect will most likely convert into a buyer. You probably have many buyer personas depending on how many products and services you offer and the type of lead-qualifying platform you use.
    Analyze your segmentation to find traits that can be used as crucial data points for lead scoring and use that information to build a buyer persona. You may quickly identify the elements that correlate with a high conversion rate by outlining the apparent features of your ideal customer.
    Even though buyer personas can alter and grow over time, you can start evaluating your ideal client based on implicit and explicit criteria.
    Based on marketing involvement and discernible behavior, this standard is implicit. For instance, if the lead accessed a product page, downloaded a report, or participated in a webinar. Implicit lead scoring is crucial because it indicates a customer’s intention to buy and is excellent for tracking interest in your offering.
    Typically, implicit scoring is set up to consider every possible action a prospect might take along the buyer’s journey. For instance, requesting a demo is worth 20 points, and downloading a report may only be worth 10. Meanwhile, skipping a month of marketing emails could cost you 10 points.

  • Explicit criteria

    This compares potential customers to your buyer personas and groups the demographic information you gather from leads – typically through web forms into categories.
    Explicit lead criteria are more difficult to misinterpret. For instance, those that are simple to segregate are name, email, job title, and firm name.

Step 2: Score your leads

Each criterion listed in the preceding sections is given a value, or “point,” in the process.
Instead of ranking leads according to how much revenue they will bring in for your company, consider which are most likely to convert into customers.
Every lead scoring model you develop should focus on specific characteristics. These need to be based on your target buyer persona. Many lead scores are based on a point range of 0 to 100.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a lead-scoring strategy that works for everyone. Additionally, assessing tens of distinct variables might be a difficult task. Making sure the lead qualification platform you choose has a scoring system compatible with the traits of the ideal buyer persona you developed and your lead segmentation efforts is the key to making this work.
For instance, if you discover that prospects who attend webinars convert at a high rate, you might give them 20 points if they have done so.
However, for a separate company, webinar participation may not strongly correlate with buyer intent. In that case, the lead scoring algorithm will only provide 5 points. It may seem difficult to assign ratings to all the touchpoints. Therefore it is advisable to start with the data points that yield the highest score and work your way down in increments of 5, 10, or whatever suits you. Your scoring will be predictable and consistent if you do this.

Step 3: Question the lead qualifying process

The salespeople can confirm the preceding procedures during a sales call in the following stage.

Lead scoring can give sales staff a clear idea of the prospect’s need or desire for your company’s products. The sales team can ask lead-qualifying questions and know if a lead is ready to buy and how much they know about your products and services.

Ask questions that encourage the lead to discuss their main struggles and obstacles. If your goods and services can address these issues, you might have a customer on your hands.

Ask questions to ascertain the situation, problem, implication of inactivity, and need for SPIN inquiries. Find out whether a lead is actually ready to take quick action to address their problems, or if they are only looking to alleviate their pain spots through these inquiries.

Problems this solution will help you resolve

Nobody hates to acknowledge that their firm has a problem, which is why it’s an excellent question. Your lead is much more likely to be motivated to solve the issue if they are honestly discussing their  problems and daily struggles. 

How were we mentioned to you?

Why is it a Good Question? Depending on your marketing and content, this question may or may not be useful. For instance, a lead who came to you as a result of a product-focused webinar is more likely to be interested in making a purchase than a lead who came as a result of a social media ad. Regardless, this inquiry will provide you with a good baseline of their products & services.

Can you just disregard the issue?

Why should you ask this question? This is a further inquiry that will reveal the buyer’s level of commitment to resolving their business problem. If the lead believes that ignoring the issue is a sound tactic, they might not be interested in making a purchase.

Why are you attempting to solve the issue right now?

This question can reveal a variety of possible indications that the prospect is interested in purchasing, especially in terms of urgency. For instance, there may have been a significant organizational shakeup, and the buyer is under pressure to resolve their problem. Or perhaps they have unsuccessfully attempted to resolve the issue with a different supplier.

When do you expect to see outcomes?

This inquiry helps you determine whether the prospect’s timeframe is realistically compatible with your own. They might not be prepared to buy if they don’t have a concrete deadline and aren’t displaying urgency.

Has your business ever used a product similar to this?

A prospect is seeking to buy if they have previous experience with the product and are considering switching vendors. By learning what is causing that change, you can do further research.

Who would make the decisions regarding the purchase of this product?

This inquiry can provide insight into other decision-makers who require persuasion. You can adjust your conversation while speaking to a delegated assistant and create a stronger case for speaking with a decision-maker.

Do you have a budget set aside to address this issue?

This will show whether the prospect’s budget and the cost of your product are in the same ballpark, as well as other important details. For instance, a sizable expenditure for resolving the problem in comparison to the size of the business may demonstrate how serious the company is about addressing its pain points.

So how can B2B websites gain more SQLs? 

Here are ten ways you can generate more sales-qualified B2B leads with effective marketing : 

1. Segmentation

Segmentation is the division of leads into groups according to shared characteristics. B2B can accomplish this most effectively by concentrating on the firmographics, psychographic, and behavioral data of their leads. Firmographic information refers to firm specifics (such as the nature or target market of the business), psychographic information speaks to the company’s beliefs and attitudes, and behavioral data speaks to the target company’s usage patterns for goods and services.

You can choose what information is most crucial to utilize to structure your lead by using data on previous leads or customers (or even non-customers).

2. Make a system for scoring leads

Essentially a subset of segmentation, lead scoring goes one step further by quantitatively evaluating a lead’s likelihood to convert. In other words, you can assign a rank of “priority” to leads that are the closest to the bottom of the funnel or the crucial purchase decision. Start by establishing your sales-qualified leads as per the criteria of your company. Use past data on leads that converted to clients to determine any commonalities between them. These will be crucial indicators to watch out for to distinguish the SQLs from the other leads.

3. Understand your ideal customer

It’s time to do additional research once criteria for recognizing and assessing leads have been established. In this instance, you must make use of the data you utilized to build a SQL to familiarize yourself with this buyer persona. Particularly for B2B businesses, the sales-qualified lead pool is somewhat small. Get to know SQLs personally to advance sales cycles and cultivate clients. Time spent on lead scoring is worthwhile. It saves additional time and effort, freeing up that productivity to concentrate fully on the SQLs who are already interested in your company and on the verge of making a purchase.

What information about your most relevant leads do you need to know? Examine their wants, needs, and budget; determine the sales timelines using historical data. By being as knowledgeable as you can, you may enhance consumer trust while bridging the gap between your business and your clients.

4. Personalized marketing

Personalization is a marketing principle that takes a lead’s extensive interests, qualities, and objectives into account. The proper perspective SQLs can be targeted effectively by personalizing information and brand messaging. Repeatedly doing so will increase leads’ familiarity with your brand and move them closer to completing a purchase.

5. Sync the marketing and sales teams

Leads that are suitable for sales don’t just arrive. After all, a marketing campaign draws in every lead. Working closely between the marketing and sales teams is advantageous in light of this. Converging lead data while brainstorming as a team facilitates the conversion of a marketing-qualified lead (MQL) into a sales-qualified lead (SQL). Sales representatives complete the tasks that marketing started. Solidifying and standardizing brand messaging, focusing on content goals and objectives, and sharing data between teams are some strategies to work together.

6. Automation in marketing

To follow your leads through the sales funnel, use automated marketing tools and strategies. It can be challenging to stay on top of leads and follow-up while maintaining a pleasant and consistent brand image. Automation is a useful tool for nurturing leads and providing them with automatically customized touches and relevant material. Use email campaigns as an example, reinforced by segmentation based on how the lead interacts with your brand.

7. Develop Content Using the Sales Funnel

Many advice pieces concentrate on the bottom of the funnel, but the key lesson is to establish a plan. It’s crucial to make sure your material is occasionally specific and focused. Structure your content plan according to the target audience, just as you utilize segmentation to concentrate time and effort on the most crucial prospects.

Leads who subscribe to a newsletter or a lead magnet, for instance, ought to get different, more targeted email content than readers of the website blog. Further, based on the lead’s inbound entry point, each email segment should contain a distinct kind of information. Similarly to this, social media material should target leads who are often at the top and center of the sales funnel. Break this down further by social media platforms; for instance, Twitter will be more middle-to-top of the funnel than LinkedIn, which is known for cultivating B2B interactions. Determine which leads are more important and so more likely to be SQLs by observing how they interact with your brand.

8. Long-tail keywords are the focus of your SEO strategy

First, be sure that all of your SEO strategies are addressed. Put your attention on long-tail keywords because we’re talking about sales-qualified leads. Long-tail keywords are essential for identifying the precise, honed customer persona most likely to become a SQL. Not all search terms are broad, general keywords. Some people could use lengthier sentences or more detailed, precise versions when typing. You can use relevant keywords that are less competitive and don’t waste visitors’ time if you can get inside the mind of a potential sales-qualified lead and understand their meaning and language (or yours either).

9. Boost your use of lead magnets

Offering high-quality content is the best approach to generating high-quality leads. You can draw the appropriate people who join up out of sheer interest by curating educational, practical eBooks, webinars, email sign-ups, guidelines, case studies, and other content. Even while your social media followers may be valuable prospects, your lead magnet content demonstrates a higher level of involvement and brand excitement. Improve SEO and conversion rates by adding clear calls-to-action and excellent user design to the landing pages for these lead magnets.

10. Keep attracting visitors to your website

While obtaining SQLs necessitates more concentrated effort, it’s crucial to keep up your top-of-funnel tactics. This is to keep up and keep making investments to increase traffic. The only approach to generate more leads overall and more sales-qualified prospects is to raise awareness of your B2B brand.

Maintaining top-notch Search engine optimization (SEO) and boosting your social media content are two ways to increase visitors. Since social media has established itself as an effective lead-generation tool, encouraging more social postings and participation on the platform is a terrific method to increase the number of organic leads. It is also quicker and less expensive than other paid ways.

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The generation of leads is only half the battle, as we have discussed throughout this course. Lead qualifying is essential to convert leads and prevent precious leads from slipping through your fingers.

Your business may save time, effort, and money by scoring leads based on the characteristics of your ideal customer. A small number of leads that have the potential to convert into sales will always be more useful to your business than a large number of unqualified leads.

You are moving toward better leads and more conversions whether you bring sales development in-house, engage with an outside partner, or do a combination of the two. An efficient sales team can also manage to use CRM tools to manage their sales flow, follow-ups, lead data, and lead scoring.