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How to Qualify Your B2B Sales Leads: 10 Criteria to Follow

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Many B2B companies see lead generation as a numbers game: the more leads you get, the more sales you get. However, this is not entirely true. The success of your lead generation process actually depends on the quality of your leads more than the quantity. 

This is where lead qualification comes into play.

Lead qualification is all about “vetting” your leads based on pre-set criteria that’s relevant to your business. These criteria could include business revenue, lead title, industry, company size, or any range of factors that would determine that a lead is a “right fit” for your offer.

This ensures that your sales efforts are most focused on the leads that are more likely to turn into paying customers versus wasting your time on non-viable prospects.

Learn how to qualify a lead the right way with these recommended criteria:

1. Decision-Making Authority

This criteria helps you determine whether the person you are interacting with is empowered to make the purchase decisions for their company. 

At the very least, the goal is to connect with someone who has a significant influence in the decision making process. Otherwise, you might request to get connected with someone higher-up who has more authority to make purchasing decisions.

If you skip this criteria, you are likely to encounter roadblocks to finally closing the deal. Identifying key decision-makers is crucial when it comes to moving a B2B lead down the sales pipeline efficiently.

Questions to ask:

  • Who else within your organization is involved in the decision-making process?
  • Are you the final decision-maker, or do you need to consult with other stakeholders before moving forward?

2. Budget

You also need to confirm whether the lead or organization has the financial resources to purchase your product or service. If your service is significantly out of budget, they may not be a good fit or it may take more effort to convince them of the value of your service.

Understanding their budgetary constraints (or potential) can help determine if they are a viable prospect. It also provides you with more information for when it comes time to negotiate, offer a discount, or strike a deal.

Questions to ask:

  • What budget range have you allocated for this [ solution/offering ] within your company?
  • Can you share how your company typically budgets for solutions like the one we offer?

3. Level of Need

Not every lead will need your product or service – and that’s okay. It’s best not to waste time on leads that are not at all interested in your solution. During the lead qualification process, you should assess a lead’s level of need (using a numerical scale can be helpful) to determine whether they are a qualified lead.

Ask yourself, does the lead have a genuine need or pain point that your product or service can address? Assessing their specific requirements ensures that your solution aligns with their needs and allows you to tailor your sales approach to their wants/concerns/interests.

Questions to ask:

  • What specific challenges or pain points are you currently experiencing in [relevant area] that you’re looking to address?”
  • How would solving [specific problem] impact your day-to-day operations or overall business goals?

4. Timeline

A lead may be interested in your solution, but they might not be ready to take action right away. This could be due to quarterly planning considerations, budgetary constraints, bottlenecks in the decision making process, etc. It’s important to assess the lead’s estimated timeline for making a decision and implementing your solution. 

For example, the prospect could have just purchased a competitor’s solution and needs to run out their engagement until the end of the contract term. Or, their budget may not be available until Q4. Many factors can play a role in this timeline.

Knowing this information can help you prioritize leads that are ready to take action sooner. You can also set reminders to follow-up with “not ready yet” prospects later.

Questions to ask:

  • When are you aiming to implement a solution for this issue?
  • What steps are involved in your decision-making process?
  • When do you expect to finalize a decision?

5. Product/Solution Fit

As much as any B2B business would love to turn every lead into a customer, the reality is that your solution may not be a good fit for everyone. Different businesses have different needs, different budgets, and different restrictions. As a B2B business owner, you must be realistic when it comes to qualifying a lead based on product/solution fit. 

Consider, how well does the lead’s business or industry align with your product or service? Assessing the fit ensures that your solution matches their specific needs and goals.

Questions to ask:

  • What types of products or solutions have you tried in the past? What worked well/didn’t work well with these solutions?
  • Could you please describe how our product/service aligns with your company’s objectives or industry needs?
  • What aspects of our solution do you find most beneficial for your particular industry?

6. Opportunity Size

Depending on your company’s objectives, you might be pursuing small companies, mid-sized businesses, or even enterprises. With that, the potential value of the deal may vary widely. Marketing to “all” businesses – small and large – may not be the best use of your time and resources.

By this criteria, you’ll want to assess the potential value of the deal. That is, the total opportunity size. This will help you prioritize high-value prospects, which is a better bang for your buck!

Questions to ask:

  • What is the potential impact value of implementing a solution like ours within your organization?
  • Can you give an estimate of the resources your company typically invests in similar solutions?
  • For how long do you expect to work with us? Are you looking for a long-term partnership?

7. Existing Solutions

Oftentimes, you’ll encounter a prospect that already has a solution in place – sometimes, that of your competitor. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they aren’t willing to switch over, but it may take more effort to convince them (see: Objection Handling) to make a change.

Does the lead currently use a competing product or service? Knowing this will help you tailor your approach and showcase the advantages of your specific offering.

Questions to ask:

  • Are you currently using any other products or services to address this issue?
  • What do you like/dislike about your current solution?
  • Are you open to exploring a new solution?
  • What benefits would you be looking for in a new solution?

8. Decision-Making Process

Similar to criteria #1, you will also want to understand the organization’s decision-making process. Whether the proposal needs to pass through several hands, undergo legal review, requires negotiation, must adhere to certain terms, etc. will all play a role in the closing process.

Understanding how decisions are made within their organization will help your sales team tailor their approach accordingly. It will also prevent you from “jumping the gun” by hard-pitching the wrong decision maker or overstepping on their process.

Questions to ask:

  • What steps are involved in your company’s decision-making process when adopting a new solution?
  • Can you outline the typical timeline for evaluating and implementing new tools or services?
  • By when should we expect to hear back from you? Would you like for us to follow up by a certain date?

9. Challenges and Goals

Your solution may sound like a good fit in your eyes, but until you ask the prospect directly, you can never be certain of the company’s specific challenges or goals. It’s best not to make assumptions about their needs, as this may lead you to completely miss the mark in terms of your sales approach. When in doubt, ask what they need and are looking to accomplish. 

Aligning your solution with their challenges and objectives increases the likelihood of a successful sale.

Questions to ask:

  • What are the main obstacles preventing your company from reaching its goals in [specific area]?
  • How do you envision our solution helping you overcome these challenges and achieve your goals?

10. Level of Engagement

It’s simply true that someone who is excited about your solution will demonstrate their interest via a high level of engagement. Responsiveness to your emails, availability to book a call, connection with their decision makers, and similar efforts are positive indicators of their interest in your product or service.

Your sales team should focus on connecting with these prospects quickly, as they are most likely to move forward. Leads that show very little engagement may require more follow-up and can be a harder sell. 

During your lead qualification process, be sure to assess your leads’ responsiveness and interest to gauge their readiness to move forward.

Questions to ask:

  • What specific aspects of our solution are most appealing to you and your team?
  • How likely are you to consider trying a new solution (compared to their existing system)?
  • How committed are you to exploring this solution further?
  • What additional information or support do you need from us?

More Questions to Ask During the Lead Qualification Process

While the previous 10 criteria will help you establish a solid baseline for your lead qualification process, there are a few additional questions you might ask to assess whether a lead is a viable prospect.

Consider adding these questions to your lead qualification checklist: 

  • How do you envision your company’s growth impacting the need for a solution like ours?
  • Can you share insights into your company’s growth plans and how our solution might fit into those plans?
  • What other solutions or vendors are you considering besides ours?
  • What are the key factors that differentiate our offering from competitors in your eyes?
  • What potential risks or concerns do you foresee in implementing a new solution?
  • How does your company typically handle risks associated with adopting new products or services?
  • How easily can our solution integrate with your existing systems or software?
  • What are your company’s priorities when it comes to compatibility and integration with other tools?
  • What level of ongoing support or maintenance do you anticipate needing after implementing a solution?
  • How important is ongoing customer support and service in your decision-making process?
  • How do you measure success or ROI when implementing new solutions in your company?
  • Are you looking for immediate returns or long-term benefits from a solution like ours?
  • Are there specific industry regulations or compliance standards that our solution needs to adhere to within your organization?
  • How does your company address compliance issues when considering new products or services?
  • What are your expectations for a long-term partnership with our company beyond the initial purchase?

How to Qualify a Lead – Tips & Strategies

Not sure how to qualify a lead (and improve your close rates)? These tips and strategies might help!

Lead qualification is as much about having the right system as it is asking the right questions. While we have outlined some questions to ask, your approach should always be tailored to the requirements of your business and the interests of your audience. 

With that, there are a few effective tips and strategies to try when it comes to fine-tuning your lead qualification system. Just make sure to monitor the success of your approach and use these learnings to improve your process over time. 

Create a Lead Qualification Checklist

Creating a lead qualification checklist is crucial. This will allow you to outline the criteria that prospects need to meet in order to be considered high-quality leads. This guides your sales team to then systematically evaluate prospects based on your required factors, such as budget, authority, need, timeline, and fit. Having a checklist helps ensure consistency in qualifying new leads, reduces ambiguity, and streamlines the sales process by focusing efforts on leads most likely to convert.

Train Your Team on Lead Qualification Strategies

Invest in training for your sales team to help them understand and implement your lead qualification process. Tailored training will help ensure that your team knows how to ask the right questions and can effectively gauge a prospect’s potential. Empower your team to identify quality leads and disqualify those that don’t meet the criteria so that they can optimize their time and focus their efforts on the more promising opportunities.

Implement a Lead Scoring System

Lead scoring system involves assigning values to different criteria and behaviors exhibited by leads. Assigning a numerical value to leads will allow your team to prioritize leads based on their engagement level, fit, interest, and potential for conversion. Leads with higher scores signify better alignment with your ideal customer profile and are more likely to convert.

Consider Outsourcing Lead Generation and Qualification

Outsourcing lead generation and qualification can also be advantageous for B2B companies. Partnering with specialized agencies can augment your internal efforts by leveraging additional expertise, technology, and resources. This approach can increase the volume of quality leads, allowing your sales team to concentrate on nurturing relationships and closing deals.

Try Lead Qualification Tools

Lead qualification tools can significantly enhance your lead qualification process. There are tools that can automate tasks, assist in lead scoring, and provide insights into prospect behavior and engagement. CRM systems, prospecting tools, lead distribution software, marketing automation platforms, and AI-powered analytics tools are examples that can streamline lead qualification, enabling better decision-making and personalized engagement with prospects.

Collect Feedback from Your Sales Team

One of the best ways to improve your lead qualification process is to collect feedback directly from your sales team. Their input can be invaluable. Your sales reps interact directly with leads and prospects, gaining insights into their behavior, pain points, and objections. This information can help you refine the lead qualification criteria, identify areas for improvement, and adapt strategies to improve close rates. Implementing a “feedback loop” supports the continuous optimization of your lead qualification process, all based on real-world experiences from your sales development representatives.

Lead Qualification Made Simple (and Affordable)

At Superhuman Prospecting, we understand the need for a high volume of B2B leads. But we also emphasize the importance of quality, as this facilitates the best return on your marketing efforts. That’s why our outreach specialists and appointment setters follow a custom-tailored lead qualification system, ensuring that you’re connected with the most viable prospects.

Want to save time, effort, and money on your B2B lead generation? Consider outsourcing to Superhuman Prospecting, the industry-leading B2B lead gen experts. We’d love to hear more about your challenges, needs, and goals. Contact us today!

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