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The Ultimate Guide to Lead Qualification: Importance and Frameworks

For any sales and marketing professional, you would believe that the art of closing a deal is the most important part of the sales journey. However, when it comes to sales & marketing you’ve probably heard of the lead qualification and if you haven’t don’t worry, that’s exactly what we’re talking about in this blog furtherly.

It’s obvious to say that finding the qualifying prospects that have higher chances to be your potential customer is the essential part of lead qualification.

“Keep your sales pipeline full by prospecting continuously. Always have more people to see than you have time to see them.”     ~ Brian Tracy, American-Canadian motivational speaker

In this blog, you’ll explore the simpler concept of lead qualification, also you can get to know the following topics listed below:

  1. What is a Lead? 
  2. About Lead Qualification: Meaning and Importance 
  3. Lead Qualification Checklist 
  4. Lead Qualification Frameworks

 So, let’s get down to it.

1. What is a Lead?

A lead is a lead right.

Wrong, that’s not true. In the Marketing and Sales context, a lead is someone ( an individual in B2C or an organization in B2B ) with an interest in what you sell.

According to Marketo, in our own revenue cycle, a lead is “a qualified prospect that is starting to exhibit buying behavior”.

But the sales and marketing team don’t always agree on what constitutes “buying behavior”, which is why it’s so important to come to agreed-upon qualifications.

From a business perspective, the information you’ll get from the origin of the lead will help you to determine how qualified your lead is and analyze what lifecycle stage an individual/ company is in.

And this is where the lead qualification process starts!

2. About Lead Qualification: Meaning and Importance

The process of marketing and sales teams to determine whether a lead fits your ideal customer profile or if it is qualified and has higher chances that a prospect will ultimately make a purchase is termed as a lead qualification.

It also involves forecasting the likelihood that a prospect has a need for your product or service, that’ll ultimately decide if the prospect will be funneled into the sales pipeline.

Before turning your lead into an ultimate prospect, read also how to nurture your leads to make a lasting relationship, its importance and lead nurturing tactics you need to consider to drive sales to your business.

Though, on your path to lead qualification, there are three level standards that are to be considered as types of “sales-ready” leads:

  • Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL)

Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL) is exactly what it sounds like. They are a lead that was considered as qualified by your marketing team.

Marketing Qualified Leads are contacts who have been deemed more likely to become your customer but aren’t ready to demonstrate their interest in your product or service.

Whether your prospects filled a form, download an ebook or white paper, or signed up for free trial, if the marketing team will determine a lead’s interest in order to be considered as a marketing lead.

According to the Annuitas Group, businesses that use marketing automation to nurture prospects experience a 451% increase in qualified leads. Nurtured leads also make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads.

business insights

  • Sales Accepted Leads (SAL)

Once the marketing team has been declared the lead is qualified, here their job is done.

The lead then entering the sales funnel passes along to the sales team for further evaluation, that is termed as sales accepted lead (SAL).

From here, the sales team will correspond for the information that hasn’t been researched by the marketing department and ready to move on to the next level, Sales Qualification.

  • Sales Qualified Leads (SQL)

At this point, it’s necessary to pass the previous phases of your lead qualification process.

Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) are prospects who have expressed interest in your product or service and are ready to talk to a sales team in becoming a paying customer.

49% of surveyed respondents said “sales qualified leads generated” is the most useful metric for measuring lead generation performance, Emarketer says.

Sales Qualified Leads

At this stage, the marketing team handed what they’ve researched about the leads to the sales team. Accordingly, the sales team then conducts BANT analysis to check some important aspects to start a negotiation before making a final call and closing a deal.

The BANT is a sales qualification acronym to help salespeople determine whether a prospect is qualified or not.

The acronym BANT stands for:

  • Budget: How much your prospect value and willing to invest in your product?
  • Authority: Who is the ultimate champion or decision maker?
  • Need: Does the prospect have an urgent problem and pain your product can solve?
  • Timing: Is there any timeframe?

Why lead qualification is important?

Lead Qualification is important because it evaluates everything whether your prospects are able, ready, and buy your product or service. The systematic process of sales qualification is an important part of the sales cycle.

It helps you to determine:

  • If the prospect has a need for the product,
  • If they have the authority to make a purchase decision,
  • If they value your product or service and are ready to invest to execute a transaction.

 3. Lead Qualification Checklist

  • Buyer’s Profile – Before starting the lead generation process, develop a highly detailed buyer’s profile with your sales and marketing team and identify whether it falls in your target industry and territory.
  • Company Information – Get to know the lead’s company and its contact information that is essential to qualify the lead.
  • Online Behaviour – The more time your prospects spend interacting with your website, the more likely chances they’re interested in your product. You may track page visits, views, downloads or frequency of visits.
  • Social Media Engagement – Track Facebook or Twitter likes, shares, retweets or click through rates are all good data to start with.
  • Spam Detection – Save yourself from red flags! Use of lowercase letters when filling forms may indicate a bot. Also, using gmail or yahoo email addresses instead of the company’s email address might indicate a red flag too.

4. Lead Qualification Frameworks

So, as you finally move at this level, where sales reps determine whether a prospect is likely to become your customer or has real desire for your product. This is done by asking a qualified question during a discovery call.

If you’re a sales manager or marketing professional, you must get to know the winning and result proven B2B sales metrics and KPIs to achieve optimal results.

There are multiple frameworks developed by several thought leaders for their lead qualification processes and are created to help determine whether the lead is qualified or not.

Following lead qualification frameworks that you need to know for your lead qualification process:

a. BANT

While we already discussed this framework, B-A-N-T, and is still widely used by many sales people across multiple markets and companies.

b. CHAMP

C-H-A-M-P or Challenges, Authority, Money, Prioritization, is a process that focuses on placing challenges ahead of authority.

The acronym CHAMP stands for:

  • Challenges: What challenges does your prospect still not resolve and a company is facing ?
  • Authority: It defines a “call to action” not a road blocker, you must ask your prospects questions to map their organizational structure.
  • Money: Once you identify their challenges and needs, it’s time to find out if they can afford to purchase the product/ service or not.
  • Prioritization: Ask your prospects when they need their problem to be resolved.

c. GPCTBA/C&I

Hubspot developed this long acronym, but a useful one. GPCTBA ( Goals, Plans, Challenges, Timeline, Budget, Authority, Negative Consequences and Positive Implications ) is highly specialized and best works for high ticketing clients

This framework is a bit more detailed and can quickly indicate changes in prospect’s behaviour.

The acronym GPCTBA stands for:

  • Goals: Find out your client’s goals and how you can help them achieve those goals? 
  • Plans: How they plan for achieving their goals, determine what worked and what hasn’t. 
  • Challenges: Determine the difficulties your prospect is facing.
  • Timeline: Your irreplaceable asset is time. If your prospect doesn’t buy this time, you should move down your priority list.
  • Budget: Simply asking, “What’s your budget” doesn’t work. Instead, ask your lead question like, “Do we agree on the value of this agreement?” or “Are you spending money on other products/services to solve the same problem?”
  • Authority: According to Hubspot’s article on Sales Qualification, it’s not necessary to determine whether your lead has the authority to make a purchase.
Conclusion

Now that you know that lead qualification is the most important part of the sales cycle.

Go and take action.

Focus on finding the right prospects that would help you to determine whether they are good fit for your product or not.

So, I hope this guide might be helpful for your sales and marketing team for a successful sales operation.

Did I miss something here? Do write to us or comment down your thoughts.