So, you’ve assembled a talented sales team complete with experienced and savvy salespeople. But when it comes to sales, talent is only part of the battle to convert more leads into customers. So how can you train your sales team to set them up for success?
Lead qualification is an essential point along the sales journey. Even the most talented salespeople will have a tough time closing deals with the wrong sort of leads. Despite the old saying, nobody can sell sawdust to a lumber mill. The top sellers rely on qualified leads, so they can apply their skills in sales presentations that actually matter to potential customers.
By qualifying leads, sales teams can help ensure their time is best spent with the target customer, whatever demographic that might be. Even if the lead doesn’t already have a need for the product or service being sold, they should still meet criteria so that a need can be created by the salesperson. In other words, don’t waste your time trying to sell ice at the North Pole.
The good news is you can train your sales team to qualify leads faster and more accurately, which is almost guaranteed to boost sales volume. To learn some of these sales team best practices, check out the following four simple ways to focus on only the most qualified leads:
1. Identify your ideal customer and what value you offer
Who makes up your target market? Before sales teams can qualify any leads, they need to know their ideal customer profile. What type of people can benefit from your product or service, and what value can you offer them? What is a qualified lead?
It’s not enough to know your target customers’ demographic information. After you’ve established who you can sell to, you want to understand how to qualify a lead.
What type of organization do they represent? What are their needs and motivations? Where are they located? What are their budgetary constraints? Identifying such variables can help sales teams qualify leads and use the most effective strategies to close the deal.
2. Choose the right qualifying questions
Not every lead who fits the ideal customer profile will be a viable prospect. Plenty still will prove to be a poor fit for your product or service for a variety of reasons. Asking targeted qualifying questions can help sales teams narrow down the best prospects and convert more leads into customers.
What is a qualifying question?
A qualifying question is something a salesperson asks to determine whether or not their prospect fits the criteria to become a customer. Those criteria could include factors such as need, budget, location or even something like the authority to make a purchase. The best qualifying questions are open-ended so they can capture as much information about the lead as possible.
While the best qualifying questions will vary based on the target customer and the nature of the product or service being sold, a few examples include:
- Are you the decision-maker?
- What made you interested in our product/brand?
- What problem can this product help you solve?
- What has kept you from solving this problem before now?
- What is your budget?
- How do you hope this product will help you succeed?
- What other solutions are you considering?
- How should we communicate moving forward?
- Can we schedule our next meeting at (suggested dates and times)?
3. Watch for buying signals and red flags
Qualifying a lead continues throughout the sales process, and sales teams must look for both good signs the lead is moving toward a purchase, as well as red flags that the lead should be disqualified.
What sorts of buying signals can sales teams watch for? If the client makes excuses for not purchasing in the past, implying any sort of regret for not addressing the problem sooner, it’s a good sign they are considering the purchase now.
At the same time, leads who give specific answers to your qualifying questions likely have already thought about making the purchase. Likewise, a lead who displays a great deal of knowledge about the product or the problem it solves likely has done their research because of their interest in the solution offered.
Meanwhile, certain red flags can tell sales teams when their leads are unlikely to become buyers. A prospect who gives murky, inconsistent or one-word answers to qualifying questions probably is displaying either a lack of interest in the product or a lack of need for the solution it provides. Knowing when to disqualify a prospect is just as important as determining the most qualified leads.
4. Develop a lead scoring system
An effective lead scoring system helps take the guesswork out of qualifying leads. Values are assigned to criteria that determine how likely the lead is to purchase, what size purchase the lead is likely to make and in what timeframe they are likely to make the purchase.
Of course, the specifics of a lead scoring system will vary by niche, brand and product, but it should consider factors that both indicate if a lead fits the ideal customer profile and score the lead’s level of interest in the product or service being sold.
When developing criteria for a lead scoring system, sales teams should consider factors such as the minimum criteria to become a potential customer, which could include variables such as industry or budget that either qualify or disqualify leads at the most basic level. The lead scoring system should also take into account the target market, the ideal customer profile and how the lead answers various qualifying questions.
In lieu of developing a custom lead scoring system, proven lead qualification frameworks, including tried and true systems such as the MEDDIC and BANT, can be used to qualify leads faster and more accurately. In the MEDDIC— or Metrics, Economic buyer, Decision criteria, Decision process, Identify pain, Champion— framework, sales teams identify every aspect of a target company’s purchase process to more accurately forecast whether or not a lead will become a customer.
One of the most successful lead qualification frameworks is the Bant approach. Originally developed by IBM, BANT— Budget, Authority, Need, Timeline— now is used by a variety of companies and markets to evaluate the four primary levels of qualification.
Of course, any sales team can boost their entire sales process, including qualifying leads, by brushing up on their sales presentation skills. A memorable sales deck boosts the engagement needed to convert leads into buyers and leaves a lasting impression on potential customers who haven’t yet pulled the trigger on the purchase.
Beautiful.ai users can qualify their leads faster and more accurately through presentation templates perfectly curated to illustrate the entire sales journey. Each sales presentation template is ready to use and fully customizable with just a few clicks.