B2B Leads and Qualified Leads
According to Investopedia a sales lead is “A prospective consumer of a product or service that is created when an individual or business shows interest and provides his or her contact information. Businesses gain access to sales leads through advertising, trade shows, direct mailings and other marketing efforts. They can also purchase sales leads from third-party companies. A sales lead is not a sales prospect, meaning that further qualification of the lead is necessary to determine intent and interest.” (http://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/sales-lead.asp) This process of “further qualification” is known as lead qualification and “to determine intent and interest” is to determine whether a lead is qualified for a particular service or not.
"The more qualified the leads, the more chances of winning new business."
Identifying the potentiality of leads is very essential to an effective lead nurturing campaign. Otherwise the effort put on unqualified leads often results in huge amounts of resource wastage and profit loss. So, ‘Knowing your pitch well enough’ is perhaps the first thing in a marketer’s note book.
It may happen that you are well on the way with the nurturing campaign but suddenly notice that the leads are falling off for no reason. Now you are left pondering and scratching the back of your head. It’s all because of the failure to qualify the leads properly; and now your entire nurturing campaign along with its funds is being squandered.
Moreover the ultimate rate of conversion from lead to client largely depends on how well the leads are qualified.
How to Qualify Leads
The task of lead qualification is not easy and there aren’t any specific systems or approaches to qualifying leads. However there are some widely followed rules of thumb and tactics that ultimately do the job quite well. The most widely used approach is known as BANT
BANT, an IBM – pioneered approach to sales qualification, stands for-
Budget: Is the project funded properly? / Is the service affordable to the prospect?
Authority: How much authority the person you are talking to has in making the purchase decision?
Need: Does the pitch really need the service?
Timeline: Will time allow the deal to be completed for both the parties?
According to BANT, if the answer to these four questions is yes then the lead is qualified for further action along the sales cycle.
Asking the Right Questions
How to Know the Answers to These Questions?
You can always ask your prospect directly. But asking such questions are tricky and may lead to embarrassment if not asked with proper care and sophistication, where relationship and rapport building are the keys to success. Strong communication skills are a must to properly drive the flow of questions towards your prospect. The questions should be directed in such a way that must not sound interrogational. Rather growing a bit of emotional connection with your pitch may help a lot. Primarily asking about their pain factors and challenges they face in their industries will make them feel sympathetic towards you and then you can easily move on to tougher questions of Budget, Authority, Need and Timeline.
Apart from theses BANT questions there are some other aspects too that can help to qualify the prospect even more.
• Does the prospect have a clear understanding of the project?
• What are your opportunity costs against the project?
• What the history of the client predicts about the deal? Etc.