It is always a little disheartening to get a message saying “sorry, we are not interested in your product” when you send your pitch or proposal to a lead. This, however, often is not the result of a bad decision on the part of the lead—it often comes back to you for not properly qualifying the lead.
Successful sales often come down to understanding your lead’s requirements for your product/service. Blindly advancing a lead because they took your first call is not the reason for them to get qualified. There are other nitty-gritties that need to be in place when you decide to qualify a lead.
Here are several questions you should ask at different stages of the sales funnel while qualifying leads.
This is the first stage of the sales process where you need to analyze if the basic information of your lead matches your product/service offering. There’s a lot of guesswork at this stage, but they hopefully are educated guesses. This is because you can do good research on the company by following them on social media and understanding their company via the company website. The questions at this stage will help you define if the lead’s business is a proper fit for your product.
Question #1: How large or small is the company?
The size of the company matters because the core dependency of a product/service is based on how many people it serves. Based on the answer you find, you can define if the lead is appropriate for your product or service.
Question #2: What is the company’s budget or revenue?
Another important question you need to ask is if their budget or revenue criterion matches the range for your product or service offering. If your product plays to the high end of the market and your lead’s budget is low, this just won’t work. So it is better to know the answer to this now rather than in the later stages once you’ve invested more time in the lead.
Question #3: Is this lead in the target market?
Your lead’s company should be an exact match to your target market or else your product/service is of no use to them. If your market is small and medium-sized businesses but your lead’s company falls under the enterprise category, it is a wrong match.
Question #4: What is the lead’s sales territory?
It is crucial that your lead falls under the geographical area you cater to or else you will reach a dead end soon. If you are catering only to US, UK and Asia, for instance, then having a lead outside that area is of no use.
Once you establish basic information on your leads in this stage, you simply categorize them under qualified or unqualified. Based on this you can push them to next stages or take them off the table completely.
Now that you know that your lead’s basic information matches your product criteria, it is time to make a call and build a relationship with them. In this stage, you will understand a more detailed version of your lead’s needs and interests and analyze them to see if they match with your product/service offering.
Question #1: How is the lead interacting?
Once you decide to make the first call, you need to understand how your lead is interacting with you. You need to know if he is reactive and involved in the conversation, and if he understands your company.
Question #2: What are the lead’s reactions?
If your lead is not reactive to your pitch, you’re in trouble. He needs to open about getting on another call to understand your offering better. If his reactions are not positive then there is no point in pursuing this lead.
Question #3: How involved is the lead in your pitch?
On a series of calls, you should be able to identify if your lead is as involved in this offering as you are. He needs to cross-examine you on various aspects like the size of your business, how many customers use your product, how the product or service will help his business, etc. Questions like these will help you understand if he is interested in your pitch.
This is the stage where your lead will decide to try a free version of your product/service. This is a crucial stage, and you need to ensure that all the leads that enter this stage turn into customers.
Question #1: How is the lead’s buying response?
There are chances that your lead might want to get out of the buying process at this stage as well. It is easy to recognize the pattern when this happens. Here either your lead will completely avoid your calls or mails or he will not push your pitch to the person who will take the buying decision. If this occurs, then drop the lead and don’t go any further.
Question #2: Is the lead taking the deal forward?
If the lead connects you with the person who will take the buying decision then it is confirmed that the deal is going forward. If there are any deviations in this or if he is making any conflicting statements then it is time to cut loose.
Question #3: Did the lead agree to use a trial version?
If he is ready to use your product’s/service’s trial version then the lead is ready to be pushed to the next sales stage. He will try and successfully implement your product/service in his business and evaluate how it is working out for him.
Question #4: Did the lead provide concrete feedback?
Based on the feedback that the lead gives, you can analyze if he is really committed to buying the product or not. His feedback needs to be constructive and useful only then you can conclude that he really used your product/service.
Decides to Buy the Product Stage
By now you have a few qualified leads that matched your product/service criteria and your offering was suitable for their business. Once leads get qualified to this stage then they turn into your customer and you need to do more hard work to retain them.
Using qualification, you can reduce the length of the sales cycle. This is because when you qualify leads based on these questions, you have a complete know-how about the lead and his inclination towards your product. Through qualification you can filter cold leads easily and shorten your sales process by completely removing cold calling from the equation.
However, not qualifying leads properly can lead to bad sales. This is because if you don’t have complete knowledge and information about your lead then you will never know how to perfect and rectify your pitch. This will obviously lead to unnecessary lead follow-ups and increase in the number of cold calling.
Sales rep might think that lead qualifying is a time-consuming process. However, it helps in the long run by shortening the sales cycle and reducing the number of cold calls.