7 Strategies to Qualify Leads (& Sell to the Right Buyers)
This one is ripe for a Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory golden egg reference.
You remember the movie, right?
The geese, the golden eggs, the trash chute that ends up being Veruca Salt’s ultimate demise (she was, after all, a “bad egg”).
But I think this take on lead qualification is a bit too simplistic.
I prefer to think of lead qualification more as what I’m sure you used to do on a schoolyard merry-go-round when you were a kid…
4 to 8 friends and you on the contraption, gripping the bars as tight as possible.
And WOOSH! One of the riders is hurled off by the ever-increasing g-force.
Then WHOOSH! Another! Then another!
And the exact same thing happens in your sales process.
In today’s article, I’ll tell you:
- The exact 7 strategies to qualify leads and filter out the bad ones before you even get on the phone.
- Why it’s not just one question that shows if a lead is a good fit for your products or service but a process of weeding out weaker prospects.
- What changes you can implement to qualify your leads past the point of a single question.
But before I start with strategy #1, did you know the importance of this question?…
Why Do You Need to Bother Qualifying Leads Anyways?
So, first thing’s first: why should you qualify leads anyways?
Don’t you want to bring in as many potential customers as possible?
Isn’t business based on the old tried and true principle of “the more the merrier?”
While every business wants to pack their pipeline full of leads, the real secret is making sure your business is right for those leads. And making sure those leads are right for you.
But when it comes down to it, qualifying leads comes down to 3 major benefits.
- It Saves You Time – Simply put, following up on a bad lead is a waste of time. And if you’re like most digital marketers, business owners, entrepreneurs, or pretty much anyone else on the planet Earth, your time is super precious. And God knows you don’t want to get 45 minutes into a call only to realize that there’s zero chance that this lead is going to be a good fit. So weed them out now, and save time later.
- A More Qualified Lead Is Easier To Close – The more a prospect knows about what you’re offering, the easier it is to sell them on it. Plus, qualifying leads is also one of the biggest time-vampires for your sales team too. In fact, Hubspot points out that more than 1 in 5 salespeople report that qualifying a lead is the biggest challenge in their job.
- Selling Too Early Can Hurt Your Long-Term Relationship – When a prospect is ready to buy, the next step is to talk to a salesperson. They’re here, they’re playing ball, and they’re looking to get the information they need to get the product or service they want. But what if they aren’t ready to buy… and they still get hit with the sales pitch? They’re more likely to scatter, never to return again. And as Salesforce points out, a whopping 62% of customers say they’re likely to share their bad company experience with others—so it’s probably hurting your reputation too.
As you can see, there are some major benefits to tightening up your lead qualification process.
Not only will it save you and your team loads of time when it comes to getting buy-in from prospects.
But it’ll also ensure that you aren’t sabotaging the possibility of a working relationship with leads or their contacts further down the line.
7 Qualifying Strategies for Weeding Out the WRONG Leads
Okay, okay. Qualifying leads is super important. That’s great.
But what can you do to make the qualifying process easier?
What kinds of elements should you add to your sales funnel to weed out the duds and hold on to the studs?
Well, let’s take a closer look, shall we?
Qualifying Strategy #1: Ask Qualifying Questions (Duh!)
57% of B2B companies say converting qualified leads into paying customers is a top priority according to MarketingSherpa.
And if you want to better qualify your prospects, start by asking them qualifying questions before they can contact your sales team.
This one shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to anyone, right? “If you want to do the thing you want to do, try doing the thing you want to do.”
But the truth of the matter is that so many businesses are still just taking any leads they can get, and sift through them by hand later.
The smartest businesses (often with the best sales funnels) on the other hand, include at least basic qualifying questions to filter out the right prospects.
And don’t be afraid to make your qualification questions lengthy (within reason of course).
The more effort a prospect has to put in to start working with you, the more likely they’re going to be to sign on when it comes time to buy or bail at the end of your funnel.
Once you’re onboard the qualifying questions train, it’s time to start asking the right questions to help keep out the riff-raff.
Now, you’ll want to start with the basics, of course. Name, email address, business name, industry, etc.
After that, there are a few different question frameworks to choose from.
The first, known as the BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, Timeline) qualification framework was actually developed by IBM.
Because it’s short, easy to remember, and gets to the heart of things, BANT is the tried-and-true choice for plenty of businesses out there today.
Alright, let’s break BANT down a bit.
- Budget – How much is your prospect 1) willing and 2) able to spend? Too little to fall into your price range? Give ‘em the ax (metaphorically, of course).
- Authority – Does this lead actually have the power to make the buy-in decision? Or do we need to bring someone else into the conversation?
- Need – Do they actually have a need you can fill? If not, better to find out now rather than 20 minutes into a sales call.
- Timeline – What kind of schedule are they on? Does it align with yours and your service’s?
BANT is great because it’s simple. But if you really want to dive deep into the details of a lead, you could always adopt other more complicated systems too. Below are just a few to consider, as pointed out by Hubspot.
- MEDDIC (Metrics, Economic Buyer, Decision Criteria, Decision Process, Identify Pain, Champion)
- CHAMP (Challenges, Authority, Money, Prioritization)
- GPCTBA/C&I (Goals, Plans, Challenges, Timeline, Budget, Authority, Negative Consequences, and Positive Implications)
- ANUM (Authority, Need, Urgency, Money)
- FAINT (Funds, Authority, Interest, Need, Timing)
Qualifying Strategy #2: Create An Engaging Demo Video
Asking questions isn’t the only way to qualify your leads though.
And one other method that’s been surging in popularity for years is including a demo video right on your sales page or website.
A well-made and eye-catching demo video can grow your sales by 30% and is great for a couple of reasons.
- It Answers a Few Obvious Questions – A demo video gives you the chance to more clearly explain your product or service, how it works, and what benefits it can bring to the life of the customer. The more questions you can answer for a prospect, the easier it will be for them to tell if your service is a good fit for them. And no wasted time for your sales staff.
- It Adds an Extra Layer of Personality – This is the perfect place to put you or the face of your company up close and center stage. The more of a human connection you can make, the better. Plus, the music you add, the video or animation style, the charisma of the voice-over—they all help shape your company’s personality. Just please, please don’t use oversimplified cartoons with a ukulele playing in the background. There are already at least 25 million corporate videos out there with the exact same style littered across the internet.
- It’s a Great Way to Drive Engagement – Solid side benefit here. People love videos. Like, a lot. Forbes says that the average user spends 88% more time on a website with a video. Wyzowl found that 72% of people would rather use a video to learn about a product or service than text. And when it comes to a memorable CTA, an astounding 95% of viewers were more likely to remember a call to action in a video compared to just 10% with text according to Insivia.
So take the time to create a demo video for your homepage.
Not only will it answer your prospect’s questions and help qualify them.
But it’ll also give you an edge on being more memorable and more engaging too.
Qualifying Strategy #3: Build A FAQs Section Into Your Sales Page
Piggybacking along with the last tip, one of the best ways to qualify leads is by answering all of their questions before you send them over to sales.
And the most efficient way of doing that is by popping in a frequently asked question section.
FAQs are perfect for getting a little more into the weeds and answering common concerns about your service quickly.
How will I be charged? BAM! It’s in the FAQs…
How do I turn on a specific feature? POW! Right in the FAQs, baby…
Does your company have a return policy? KABLAAM! Question #4 in the FAQs…
No need to get sales involved and no need to waste their time answering questions.
The trick, however, is knowing how to write not only a FAQs section that answers questions, but that also helps sell your product along the way.
Here are a few FAQs tips that will help grow your sales along the way.
Qualifying Strategy #4: Survey the Leads That Got Away
As humans, we’re especially good at identifying patterns.
It’s what’s helped us go from club-wielding nomads to car-driving, laser-shooting, philosophers, scientists, and artists.
We’ve still got quite a bit of the baser desires of cavemen in us (re: football, Real Housewives of Wherever, politics in general).
But it’s our ability to solve problems with the logic that got us where we are today.
And when something goes wrong, like a lead falls out of your funnel, the logical thing to do is to ask them, “Hey, why’d you leave?”
If you get an “unsubscribe,” ask them what’s making them go.
If a lead makes it to the last stage of your funnel and abandons the ship, find out what made them jump.
Because user feedback can actually grow your sales by 71% (it happened to us).
And if their response is based on a misunderstanding or a false perception (e.g., they couldn’t find any info on a feature you actually have), use that information to address their concerns earlier on in the buyer’s journey.
Feedback is gold for any business.
And the more you take it into account, the better you can tweak your marketing to cater to the right prospects.
And as Salesforce points out, a whopping 62% of customers say they’re likely to share their bad company experience with others.
So avoid that at all costs.
Qualifying Strategy #5: Set a Clear Price Point
While talking about money may be uncouth within certain circles, you’re running a business.
And money, well, it’s just a part of the game.
A big part. The biggest part.
So when you’re browsing a company’s website and are getting more and more excited about working with them, there’s nothing more infuriating than not being able to find a price point anywhere.
It’s like they’re actively hiding it from you.
And in all likelihood, that means that they have something to hide (an eye-popping price tag, maybe?).
In order to avoid that frustration and help ensure that your leads can actually afford your services, you’ve got to include a well-made pricing page.
Or at the very least, a ballpark price point that your leads can focus on.
No matter which you decide to go with, price anchoring is a great way to set expectations early and make your product or service appear far more affordable.
Qualifying Strategy #6: Be Blunt About The Basics
In your business, you know what works and what doesn’t.
Even if you haven’t blatantly set them yet, there are limits to what you can work worth—requirements that simply must be met in order for you to get the results your clients are after.
For instance, at AutoGrow, we only work with clients that can afford a specific minimum monthly ad budget.
We take care of our clients’ digital marketing tasks so they can focus on growing their business and achieve the results they’re after.
Because if their budgets are any lower than that, we won’t be able to help our clients bring in the leads needed to get the kinds of results they’re aiming for.
And every business has baselines like these.
So why not call them out?
Be blunt about what you require to get your prospects the end-result they’re after.
Do you need responses and feedback within a certain number of days after finishing a prototype? Say so.
Do you only work with companies that already have a program framework in place for you to build off of?
Put it smack dab in the middle of your homepage.
If there’s something about a prospective client that instantly disqualifies them from working with you, say it loud and say it proud.
Because it’s only going to save time and resources for your sales team at the end of the day.
Qualifying Strategy #7: Call Out the Industries That Are a Good Fit–And the Ones That Ain’t
And last but certainly not least, be specific about who you work with and who you don’t.
Yes, yes. This touches on the age-old question of to niche, or not to niche.
And a lot of businesses out there are sensitive to the issue.
But the truth is that in order to grow efficiently, it just makes good sense to appeal to a certain niche market rather than casting a wider net.
So the sooner you do find your business’s ideal niche market, the better.
But once you do, be sure to call it out on your website.
Are you a SaaS business that only serves building materials manufacturers?
Or a transportation company that only deals in medical materials?
Or an adult-oriented magician that doesn’t do kids’ parties?
Call out specifically who you do and who you don’t work within your marketing materials.
This is especially important advice for that last example.
So there you have it. 7 strategies for qualifying leads and filtering out the bad ones before you even get on the phone.
- Qualifying Strategy #1: Ask Qualifying Questions & Ask the RIGHT Qualifying Questions
- Qualifying Strategy #2: Create an Engaging Demo Video
- Qualifying Strategy #3: Build a FAQs Section Into Your Sales Page
- Qualifying Strategy #4: Survey the Leads That Got Away
- Qualifying Strategy #5: Set a Clear Price Point
- Qualifying Strategy #6: Be Blunt About the Basics
- Qualifying Strategy #7: Call Out the Industries That Are a Good Fit—And the Ones That Ain’t
In our experience at AutoGrow, these 7 strategies have worked out the best for us.
And in fact, these tips have helped us tighten up our processes, bring in the right kinds of clients to keep us growing, and even led us to improve client retention!
So go out into the world and don’t be afraid to start disqualifying today.
Because the better you are at that, the more likely you’ll be to find your golden egg.
Now tell me something, what kinds of qualifying strategies have you used in the past?
Which one of these 7 are you already planning on implementing?
Did you also find Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory creepy and kind of dark for a kid’s movie?
Let me know in the comments below!
And if you need help building a sales and lead generation funnel that will end your lead-gen worries for good, then check out our 6-Figure Sales Funnel Training in our Marketplace.
And as always…
Keep AutoGrowin’, stay focused.