No matter what business you’re in, you will grapple with the lead generation process at some point.
I’m sure you generate loads of them, but do you know how to make sure they are good quality leads? In my last post, I showed you how to generate quality B2B leads, today we will take a look at one aspect of lead gen: lead qualification.
What is lead qualification?
Your guide to sales and, ultimately, success.
Lead qualification definition:
Lead qualification is understanding whether or not a sales prospect matches your ideal customer profile. Most importantly, it includes considering the possibility of them becoming a stable and loyal customer.
As we discussed last time, qualifying leads is a challenging process. Yet, it is achievable.You just need to design a clear path that will get you through the process. How to design such a path? Well, I bet you immediately thought about using some lead intelligence tools. They sure are important to the process.
Even with those tools, there is still more work to be done. You need to get your hands on the job. How?
Think about sales at your company. What do you do when somebody shows an interest in your solution? You ask them questions to discover whether they are the right fit for your business. Why wouldn’t you use the same method even before your sales conversation?
Read more to find out how to ask qualifying questions when prospecting.
We’ll go over:
The power of questions
Questions are very powerful. For one, they let you acquire information relevant to you and your business. But that’s an obvious point. The other one is more important for our case here. Questions are powerful because, from the onset, they put you in the right state of mind to find quality leads for your business. How does this happen?
Well, questions can reframe your mind, so you focus on finding solutions. As soon as you ask a question, your brain starts looking for answers. Just try this. Ask yourself, “What did I have for breakfast yesterday?” I bet you couldn’t help but wonder about the eggs on toast you ate (at least, that’s in my case.) You see, once you ask a question your brain demands to find the answer. It’s backed by research. It’s an instinctive mental reflex that goes by the name of “instinctive elaboration”.
So now we know what happens in the brain, but how does it reflect on your quest for finding the best leads and qualifying those leads?
How to use qualifying questions for finding great leads
The process of finding leads is called prospecting. It’s the first stage of your sales pipeline, and the one that you have to be attentive about. At that stage, you search for potential customers (AKA prospects) and try to qualify them against a set of criteria important to your business. If they don’t meet the criteria, you don’t do cold outreach. If they do, that’s perfect! You’ve found your leads!
That’s why questions come in handy. You can ask yourself questions when looking for a lead to check whether they meet the desired criteria, and hence, are a great fit for your business. But that’s not all there is.
With questions, you know exactly how your lead qualification process looks like, you can control it, replicate it or identify what works and what doesn’t. Isn’t that convenient?
TIP: Don’t worry. You’re not alone with this. If you’re looking for inspiration for questions, read popular sales books. They can be really helpful to design your path to finding great leads. You may be skeptical at first, but they do work. I showed it here.
How does it look in practice?
I want to find 20 great leads for my business. What shall I do? I should brainstorm the qualities I want my business to have and design a question-led process that will help me test whether that lead is my ICP (Ideal Customer Profile). I’ve found the first lead. What’s their company size? Great. It’s the same as my ICP’s. What’s their employee count? Awesome, my perfect customers have the team as large as this one. Yet, my next question disqualifies the lead. I cannot help them. Let’s look for the next one.
You get the gist. Thanks to questions like these you can eliminate the leads who you cannot help with your solution. But you will generate the leads that are of quality for your business.
20 sales qualifying questions for finding great leads
- How well do they match my ICP? - It’s important to target business people who match your Ideal Customer Profile. Otherwise, it’s a wasted effort as you’d earn next to no replies.
- What kind of business is it? - When preparing a cold email campaign, aim it at contacting people who have similar businesses. It would be easier to personalize email copy that way.
- How long have they been in business? - Same here. It will help you with personalization if you target old sharks only or you solely reach out to budding startups.
- Who’s their customer? - It’s essential to know who they target so you know what they focus on.
- Is the business growing? - Try to estimate if that’s a growing business. Look at the recent hires, their job board, any acquisition. A growing business has an appetite for new solutions.
- What are the primary business objectives? - Whatever their objective is, it will give you the taste on what they're about and what to tell them to persuade them to buy.
- What do they need your solution for? - Look at the way your customers use your offering and what they pay attention to. Try to predict how the lead in front of you would use it.
- Was this issue addressed before? - Did they use your competitor’s solution? Or are they completely new to whatever it is you are selling? Let’s go for one or the other. The sales talk would look different depending on that.
- What kind of tools do they use? - It’s possible that they use a tool complementary to yours. And that’s a plus. Use a lead generation software tool to filter companies via tools they use.
- Who uses them? - Try to guess who the end user is to know how to structure your conversation and what to say to make them want your tool.
- How many people use them? - If a company is big, more people use a tool like that. It matters. Maybe you can sell more than one seat.
- What’s the size of the relevant department? - Try to establish that. You’ll see how easy or how hard it is for them to grow.
- How old is the department they’re working in? - New departments will look for tools and old ones, well, they may be set in their ways.
- Did they hire any more people in the department? - It can be a valuable insight to know of any recent hire. You’ll see in what direction they want to develop.
- Who is the decision maker? - Now, you should focus on finding the person responsible for making the decision to purchase from you. Look at the previous companies you worked with and go from there.
- What’s their position? - That is also relevant information that tells you a lot. For example, you would know when to contact them to catch them at an appropriate moment.
- Do they work autonomously? - If they work side by side with another person, you may try contacting both of those people. Just to make sure they will talk about you together.
- Are other people involved in purchase decision? - If yes, who? More than one person who is involved may prolong the buying process.
- Do they have the capacity to buy? - It’s hard to estimate that, but try to compare them against your ICPs in terms of the money they might have.
- Are there any red flags? - If you’re a well-seasoned in lead generation, you’ll get a hunch about the person and their business.
So here you go. 20 sales qualifying questions for finding great leads. Are you going to use them? What are the questions you use? I would like to know.
This list is by no means exclusive. You can create your own set of questions. Discover how to ask better questions by following the advice of other salespeople. Here are some resources I use at Woodpecker to ask better questions.
New to business and need some more pointers? Check out our information on lead generation in a startup.