10 Step Lead Qualification Checklist – From MQL to SQL
A report from Hubspot suggests that organizations on average generate around 1877 open leads in a month and 1523 Marketing Qualified Leads specifically. There is a qualification process on two sides – marketing and sales.
There can be a thousand people coming to your website in a day and doing certain activities suggesting that they are interested in your product. But in reality, all they probably need is information about your product.
At the same time, some people are genuinely interested in your product. But not all of them are looking to purchase right away. In B2B mainly, the buying process can take a while.
There is no point in pursuing a lead that is likely to purchase 6 months down the line for the sale right now. Instead, you would want to empower them with information. There is also no point pitching to a lead who is not qualified. This is why lead qualification is important.
You need a strategy…
Getting qualified leads for your products and converting them into clients is quite a daunting task. Considering the number of leads that you generate in a month, it is pretty much impossible to pursue all of your leads. Not only would it be time-consuming, but it would also turn out to be inefficient and exhausting for your sales team if you have a large volume of top of the funnel leads.
You need a clear-cut strategy to approach leads, filter them, and put your efforts only into the leads that have better chances of closing.
That is where the lead qualification process finds its footing.
With a lead qualification process, you get to filter out the leads that are genuinely interested in your product, and actually need your product, and are also very likely to purchase. All they need is a little bit of a push and the right information and they’ll take their credit cards out.
How do you identify these leads?
With a qualification checklist. First, we will start with what marketing can do from their side (which is the first phase of qualification), and later we will cover what sales can do.
Phase 1- Marketing qualification checklist
Here is your marketing qualification checklist:
1. Match with Ideal Customer Profile
An ICP (short for Ideal Customer Profile) is a hypothetical profile of your customers. For example, let’s say you have a pitch deck software. In this case, one of our main customer profiles would be startup founders who are looking to raise capital.
Your ICP can be quantified into data like job role, company size, location, business type, revenue, etc. To qualify, you would need to create an ICP and then match customers based on the profile. We have discussed this process in detail here.
On Salespanel, your leads are automatically enriched with data and you can qualify them based on ICP on any scale.
2. Identify Interest
Once a lead matches your customer profile, it is important to understand their interest by tracking lead intent and behavior. Let’s say a company perfectly matches your ICP but they have only visited your website one time and haven’t taken any meaningful steps. Would you prioritize them over a lead who has visited your website multiple times, checked out pricing, and has spent time viewing your tutorials and case studies?
When leads who match your ICP show interest, they can be considered Marketing qualified leads (MQLs).
Phase 2- Sales qualification checklist
Once a deal moves to sales, sales needs to do their qualification and move the deal forward. Unlike marketing where a lot of qualification systems are data-driven, sales qualification often comes with a very humane touch. Software is still useful though. It can actually help you stay ahead of the game and read the lead’s mind and do your homework before the conversation starts.
Here’s a 10 point checklist that you can use to identify and pull out qualified leads very easily, and also build lasting relationships with them.
Your 10 Point sales qualification checklist
Two of the most important aspects of getting qualified leads are discovering the exact problem and building genuine relationships. There is no shortcut to that.
A person will only buy from a company that they trust. And to build a good level of trust, you are going to have to put in some work.
Check for these pointers.
Discover their problem
One of the most obvious and important parts of qualifying a lead is to discover their problem and see if you have the products that would solve their problems. Researchers say that the majority of the first interactions with leads should be invested in discovering their problems.
Ask them the following questions to study their problem and see if you have what they need. If at any stage you feel that you don’t, you can immediately classify the person as an unqualified lead.
1. What are your main concerns or needs?
By asking them about the challenges they are facing and the issues that they are looking to get fixed, not only can you gauge whether your product actually fits their needs, but can also make them more aware of their issues and further induce them to make a purchase.
Asking them specific details about their needs can also help you understand the customizations that they will need.
As we mentioned, software comes in again and helps you analyze your lead’s behavior and know what they are looking for even before you start talking to them. You always stay one step ahead. For example, if you come to our website and check out materials related to lead scoring, we would know that your interest lies in lead scoring.
2. What are some of your short term and long term goals?
In many cases, leads do not quite know what they want. They may have a rough idea, but it is not likely to be thought through to the end.
To find out what exactly they need and whether your company can provide it, you can ask them about their short term and long term goals. You can further understand what features you need to integrate into your solution by considering these aspects.
3. What solutions or resources have you previously tried?
Ask them about the resources or solutions that they have already tried in the past to further understand their issues. Ask them what part of those solutions worked for them and what did not, so that you can incorporate the good points and steer clear of the negatives. Furthermore, it will help you see if you can offer different solutions for their needs.
Agitate and re-iterate the problem
Now that you have discovered what your lead needs are, and have decided that you have what they need, you can try to induce them to make a purchase. This is also a step that will help you see if there is anything you cannot help them with.
4. What do your competitors have that you would like to have?
Every company probably has a clear idea of where their competitors have the cutting edge. And very often that is a good reference for you to devise the solution further. Besides, it can help your clients understand where they are lacking, inducing the psychological effect of wanting to surpass their competitors.
Establish the relationship
Once you’ve established the fact that you can help them, you can now work on the trust factor. This step will help you see if you can get your client to trust you and if that will impress them enough to make the purchase.
Ask them the following questions…
5. What are you looking for in a brand?
Every client would probably have a few major deal-breakers when it comes to working with a brand. Asking them about their expectations from a brand will help you understand whether you really fit the bill. Have them spell out a few main points.
Most likely they will want a brand that can adapt to their business model well, or offers efficient client support, etc. You can determine where your company meets these requirements perfectly and where it doesn’t. It is totally alright if there are some areas where your company doesn’t meet the list.
You can convey the same to your client and offer to help them in the best way possible. If there appear to be deal-breakers in the requirements, both for you and your client, then you can consider the lead unqualified.
6. What do you like about our brand?
Asking them what attracted them to your brand will help you figure out your strengths concerning the particular client relationship. Knowing what they like about your values or your features, will give you pillars to focus on during conversations. It will also help you understand your client better. For example, if it is your pricing that they like, it probably means that they have a strict budget to stick to. Furthermore, it can help you nurture your lead, make your client feel like you understand them, and re-iterate the idea that you offer what they need.
Offer the solution
Now it’s time to pitch your solution and see if they are genuinely interested in making the purchase.
7. How can we help you make the decision?
In most cases, your client will inevitably have something that is holding them back from making the purchase. It could be the budget, it could be because they don’t quite know what they need, or it could be a lack of decision-making capacity. Offer them the solution and figure out what it is that is keeping them from making the deal. Offer ways to help them solve or work around the issue, leaving no loopholes for them to slip. Your genuine interest and efforts to solve their problems will make them feel important and valued as well.
8. What is your budget?
The budget is undoubtedly one of the most important aspects of the partnership. For the same reason, this is something that may want to discuss early on in your conversations. If the client does not have the budget to purchase your product or if you cannot seem to arrive at a price that both of you are happy with, there is no point moving forward with the lead.
9. Who else is involved in the decision-making process?
Most often there is more than one person that you need to convince when you are dealing with a company. Unless it is a very small company, you may have to talk to around 6 to 7 people on average according to statistics in order to close a deal. You can also ask questions like “is there anyone else I should talk to about this?” to determine and establish relationships with the right people.
Establish the timeline
Now all you need to do is find out if the person is planning to make the purchase right away. You can still consider the lead if they are looking to buy in one month or even two months. However, for a timeline longer than that, you can consider the lead unqualified for the time.
10. When do you plan to implement the solution?
Asking the client when they are planning to implement the solution is a good and straight question to know if they will be making the purchase right away. At this stage, your lead is one step away from being a sure close. Hence, even if the timeline is within one or two months, you can follow up with the lead effectively and close it when it is the right time.
These 10 pointers cover the most basic attributes to consider in order for a lead to qualify as a sure sale. Following the checklist will help your entire sales team generate high-quality SQLs after receiving MQLs and close some profitable partnerships.