How to Qualify a Lead? Easy Steps and Tools
Doing business, especially B2B, and in the online era is a tricky affair. Technology has enabled businesses to access global markets. While this has been beneficial in many ways, it has also brought along its own set of complications.
Technology brought various regional markets together and transformed those into a unified global market. Every online business has access to a vast global market. This can get overwhelming when conducting business, especially when identifying your ideal customer and forming a process to reach them.
Having access to a large audience is an advantage any day, but in terms of marketing, it makes customer acquisition a difficult process. How exactly?
Consider this – you are a hunter who’s out in a big forest to specifically hunt a deer. The forest is endless and full of wildlife but you’re firing blindly. Chances of you hitting an animal are already less but those of hitting a deer specifically are even rare. And, the ammo you spend shows resources being wasted.
But what if you knew how to spot a deer? Wouldn’t that change the game? For that, you’d need to know the spots that the deers prefer or their timings. When they eat, when they rest, where they drink water, etc. Knowing these things ensures you’re no longer firing blindly into a forest hoping to hit a deer.
Having numerous leads is of no benefit if you’re unable to identify which ones can actually be converted into a sale. In this case, the ammo is your sales team’s time and effort and your engagement budget. Plus, if you are targeting broad, you would reach a lot of unqualified leads. The process of lead qualification is what eliminates this marketing hurdle.
What is Lead Qualification?
The process of customer acquisitions starts with Lead Generation. Lead Generation, in essence, is identifying people who’ve shown interest in the product or service your business is offering.
Your lead generation process combined with access to a global online audience will produce a large number of leads. This only means that the product and services you offer as a business attract interest from a lot of people. This is surely helpful but leaves a question unanswered – who all will actually buy your product or service among those interested?
Not all leads have the same time of interest. Maybe they are just interested in your content, or perhaps, they are just looking around. Car enthusiasts will check out the new Lamborghinis with excitement. But, most people are not going to buy. Pursuing all leads is like firing blindly in an endless forest, as discussed earlier. This is where the process of lead qualification steps in to answer the question.
Salesforce defines Lead Qualification as “the process of determining how likely a lead is ultimately to turn into a paying customer. Qualified leads are leads that have been determined to have a good chance at converting into customers.”
The process of Lead Qualification is what filters out leads, leaving you with leads who’re most likely to make a purchase. Lead Qualification takes urgency of the requirement, purchase power, utility to customers, and willingness to purchase as key qualifiers while filtering out all generated leads. (See BANT)
This results in a more targeted approach for the marketing and sales function. Not only does the business save on resources but it also increases the productivity of the customer acquisition function.
A business can also formulate and utilize an ideal customer profile to further make the process of lead qualification more efficient and effective.
How to Qualify a Lead?
The process of lead qualification has a standard framework across the marketing Industry. Many businesses still follow the traditional framework, and it works for them. However, the traditional framework is no longer enough if you want your business to grow steadily.
There have been some additions to the process of lead qualification in recent times, which have made the process faster and more accurate. We recommend you try these modern additions to your process:
Leads that match your Ideal Customer Profile are still going to exhibit diversity to a large extent. There are plenty of factors that differentiate one ideal customer from another, which means a single generic marketing message is not going to resonate well with everyone.
Segmentation allows a business to group ICP matched leads into segments that have similar attributes. Lead qualification is already a targeted approach, and segmentation enables layering it with personalization. Plus, you can also create your segments to only have qualified leads.
Knowing what value a client looks to gain from using your product or service and knowing their cohort enables you as a marketer to better highlight these in your product or service. You may help them by providing a demo, walk them through various features of a product they need, or explain to them how you can solve their problems better than your competition.
Personalizing your marketing approach is beneficial in two ways:
- Personalization using lead segmentation has shown to uplift sales by about 89% and a 58% increase in average order value.
- A personalized approach helps create better relations among businesses and potential customers. This adds a lot to a brand’s value and market reputation.
Thus, every segment can be marketed using a personalized approach. Some lead segments offer higher-order values or show urgency in requirements. These segments can be prioritized over other segments. Not only does this save time but it improves the overall effectiveness of a business’s marketing and sales function.
Lead Scoring is a strategy used to gradually qualify leads based on profile and behavioral attributes. This process involves assigning values to certain attributes leads exhibit and certain actions they take while interacting with various elements on your website and other channels. E.g., Important page visits, email opens, webinar views, etc.
The score determines the sales readiness of a lead and can also be used to create a baseline for initial ICP matching. That way, the marketing and sales teams know which leads are most likely to convert and can pursue those accordingly. These scores also help identify at what stage a potential lead is in the sales funnel.
Knowing the right lead and the right time to reach out to them will enable the sales and marketing teams to better utilize resources and time. This reduces the time it takes to complete sales cycles, and having quicker sales cycles means more leads can be focused on in the same duration.
Here are some key attributes that are used by both marketing and sales teams to qualify leads:
- Job Title
- Firm Size
- Page Visits
- Visit duration
- Video views, button clicks, custom events, etc.
Scoring leads in this manner helps determine the quality of the lead. A person with a higher position in a firm will have more authority to make a purchase. Likewise, a firm that matches your ideal customer profile would need to be prioritized.
These attributes are what determine the quality of the lead. Aside from profile attributes, the behavior of your leads is what will help you gradually qualify leads as they get closer to buying. Leads with higher intent would perform more favorable actions like adding a credit card or watching your webinars.
Leads with higher scores are more likely to buy or be a higher ticket and therefore will bring in more value for your business. Higher quality leads, when converted, translate into a higher Annual Contract Value (ACV) and Lifetime Value (LTV). Thus, more efforts and resources can be allocated to pursuing and converting these leads.
Lead scoring translates qualitative attributes and actions into numeric scores. These scores are not only easy to understand and track but also enable ranking and prioritizing leads. Lead scoring can thus make your combined marketing and sales function leaner, faster, and productive.
Automatic Lead Qualification
Automation has streamlined many of the business functions, and lead qualification is no exception. At the base of this automation is still the tried and tested BANT determinants, but there are way more things that these automation systems take into consideration.
Data is at the core of these Automatic Lead Qualification systems. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are only effective when they’re fed a good amount of quality data to work with. Statistics and machine learning powered open-ended scenario forecasting has made the Predictions more accurate.
The business sector was among the sectors that benefited from this technology. They have plenty of in-house data and capacity to avail such technologies, and that gave birth to Predictive Lead Scoring.
A Predictive Lead Scoring software utilizes a learning algorithm to process a firm’s past sales and marketing data along with common traits to understand what type of leads were converted and which factors they had in common. They also consider which of those converted leads brought in more value for the business.
This insight is used by the software to create its own scoring determinants. The leads are then automatically scored based on these determinants, which results in the generation of more quality and high-value leads. Some products also tap into third-party data sets to cross-reference the industry trends to make the process of automated scoring even more effective.
Top 4 Lead Qualification Tools
Now that you know about different qualification strategies, here are our recommendations:
Salespanel is a visitor intelligence and lead qualification platform. It helps you qualify your leads using the profile, firmographic, and behavioral data points.
The software captures leads from cross-channel acquisition sources and tracks them in real-time. The tracking system tells you who your leads are, where they came from, and what they did on your website. Salespanel can also track custom events like webinar views, button clicks, and other major engagements.
Salespanel helps you leverage all the tracked data for rule-based lead scoring, automatic scoring, and segmentation and connect with your CRM. Coming to the pricing, Salespanel has a free plan for basic lead tracking, and lead qualification features are at highly affordable prices (up to 4X lower than Hubspot). Automatic scoring is available on all plans, well-known, well-known while rule-based scoring is available on Growth ($249/mo) and higher plans.
Hubspot is a well known brand, and they pretty much offer everything you can wish for. However, there are a few downsides:
- Hubspot’s tools work best when you are in their ecosystem. If you want to use other tools, you are better off choosing a dedicated qualification tool.
- Hubspot is pricy, and while it’s not obvious from the get-go, the prices increase significantly as you grow.
- We have discussed this in detail in our Hubspot analysis article.
Great tool, nonetheless.
They’re Industry experts when it comes to DataScience and Predictive engines. If you want to indulge in the very best of what AI and Machine Learning have to offer and can pay for premium data (e.g., Clearbit), look no further. Madkudu’s pricing starts at $1999/month.
Lead scoring is part of Activecampaign’s Sales CRM that helps your sales team qualify leads based on lead behavior. This helps them know how their leads are engaging and gradually progressing through the sales cycle while also figuring out when leads are sales-ready. The data attributes available for scoring include page visits, email opens, link clicks, meeting scheduled, etc.
Here’s a pricing breakdown:
Now that we have laid out the process to qualify leads, it is your turn to determine qualifiers that are specific to your business and put them into action. If you need any help, please ping us through support chat.
Sell more, understand your customers’ journey for free!
Sales and Marketing teams spend millions of dollars to bring visitors to your website. But do you track your customer’s journey? Do you know who buys and why?
Around 8% of your website traffic will sign up on your lead forms. What happens to the other 92% of your traffic? Can you identify your visiting accounts? Can you engage and retarget your qualified visitors even if they are not identified?