Qualification is arguably the most important part of the whole lead generation process. Sales teams need to make good and profitable use of every second of their time, and your company simply can’t afford them to waste it on bad leads.
Qualification sorts the ‘likely to buy’ and ‘will never buy’ leads from each other, handing the former over to the sales team ready to close the deal. According to statistics from Gleanster Research 2015, only a quarter of all leads are strong enough to be worth passing on to the sales team. But how do you determine which leads are good and which are bad?
The basics: BANT
Many lead generation teams start with a simple qualification process, known in the industry by the acronym BANT. This is a basic set of criteria that a lead must meet to be considered worthwhile pursuing. It covers:
- Can the lead actually afford the product you’re selling?
- Authority. Does the lead hold the purchasing power to make the decision to buy?
- Is your product useful to the lead? Does it solve one of their problems, can it save them time or make them more money? In short, do they need it?
- Is the lead ready to buy now or will they be ready in a specified timeframe?
For many companies, this is enough to satisfy them that the lead is ready to be picked up by the sales team. This doesn’t mean that the deal will definitely be closed, but the chances of success are looking good. The BANT method seems to work well for one-off purchases, but is it enough qualification for those sales that are more like long-term partnerships?
Once the BANT criteria has been met, many lead generation professionals move on to a deeper level of qualification. This is necessary when a deal will mean thousands of pounds changing hands, working together for a long period of time or anything that is more complicated than selling a simple, one-off product.
Deeper qualification often involves looking at ethos, organisational culture and working philosophy. If two companies or individuals will be working together, they need to have something in common. This could be business goals or a way of working, but it needs to be aligned in order for the relationship to work. Imagine working closely with a partner whose working philosophy is the complete opposite to yours – it just won’t work.
Gaining a deeper understanding of these things can help you to tailor your pitch and gives you a better chance of closing the deal. The lead will be looking for more than the cheapest price or the best contract terms. They want a partner they can work with, and who can benefit their business. Shared values is what should rocket a particular lead right to the top of your qualified list, as companies that feel that their ethos is shared are more likely to choose your company to buy from or team up with.