Lead Qualification: A Dirty Secret

29 May

I talk to many companies that take the same standard approach to lead qualification: they focus on budget, purchase timeline, and decision-making authority as key dimensions of lead qualification.

Typically, these requirements are pushed by sales to make sure that every lead meets their strict qualification criteria. The dirty sectre is that the result, however, is often very different: a constant battle between sales and marketing over whether or not each lead is really qualified. This is no way to run a business.

A more successful approach is to let the lead choose whether or not they want follow-up. Instead of asking a bunch of unwanted qualification questions, ask a prospect whether they would like a personal phone call from someone at the company. I’ve used this technique for years and it works.

Here is what I have found:

  1. Only serious leads want a call from sales
  2. You can ask fewer, more prospect-friendly questions on lead forms which dramatically improves lead form completion rates
  3. Sales & marketing alignment also gets better.  It’s hard to argue that sales shouldn’t call a prospect that is asking to speak with sales.
  4. This definition of a sales ready lead makes it very clear as to which propects are owned by sales and which are owned by marketing. For marketing, the goal then becomes to own and nurture leads that don’t yet want to talk to sales.
  5. Sales will be calling the right people. In most b2b sales environments, the competition has won by the time the project and budget are defined. Qualification schemes that require this for an initial call make it difficult for sales to get ahead of the competition and to influence engaged prospects early in the sales cycle.
  6. Sales is happier because they are only talking to people who want to talk to them.

So, if you are spending too much time arguing over which leads are qualified and which leads are not — think about letting the prospect decide whether or not they want a call from sales.

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