If you run a business, whether you realise it or not, you probably do some form of lead qualification. You may not call it that, or even realise that’s what you’re doing – but you wouldn’t be running a successful business if you didn’t.
What is Lead Qualification?
Put simply, lead qualification is the process of working out (qualifying) if a prospect you’re talking to (a lead) is likely to buy from you.
In business you may get lots of nibbles, but not every nibble or enquiry will turn into a sale. Anyone who has been in contact with you, your sales team or marketing team, should be qualified as a genuine lead before being moved into your sales funnel.
You don’t want to be spending time on leads that aren’t likely to become customers.
How do you qualify a lead?
Qualifying leads takes time, skill in asking the right questions, and a thick skin as many people have an aversion to anything that feels like being ‘sold to’, even when they’ve contacted you.
The skill and tenacity involved in qualifying leads often means that for many smaller businesses, the business owner is the person who does lead qualification. Sometimes reluctantly.
But, when done correctly, lead qualification can save you a lot of time chasing leads that were never going to convert, allowing you to use your time to focus on genuine opportunities.
When qualifying a lead, you need to find out if they:
- are genuinely interested in buying (not a question you can usually ask outright, which is where some skill is needed). They may just be doing their ‘homework’ or could even be a competitor on a ‘fishing’ expedition
- have a use for your product or service
- have the budget
- have a need now or in the near future
- have the authority to place the order
Lead qualification is a hugely important part of the sales process, and with it the future success and growth of the business. But it does eat into a business owner’s precious time.
Why would I outsource lead qualification?
Outsourcing saves time. While it’s an important part of the sales process (and something every business should do), lead qualification takes time. Professional salespeople know where to prioritise their time to get the best results. If you’re a small business owner doing the sales qualification yourself, time is your most valuable and irreplaceable resource.
Outsourcing is cost-effective. In an ideal world you’d have the budget to employ dedicated salespeople to hunt down leads, qualify them and then move them into your sales funnel. Allowing you to get on with managing the business and delivering a great product.
But not all businesses have the budget or desire to take on extra staff. Businesses of all sizes are increasingly preferring the flexibility of outsourcing. There is often a set-up cost, but this should be quickly recouped with the time savings you’ll make converting leads into customers.
Outsourcing allows you to prioritise. This may befocusing on your sales pipeline and securing more business. Delivering your product. Innovating and growing your business. Or it may be finding that longed-for balance, playing more golf or spending more time with your family.
Things to consider
When looking to outsource your sales qualification process, there are some key factors you should consider.
How will it work in practice?
For outsourcing to work, it’s vital that the service provider you choose understands your business, your product, how you work, your sales funnel, business process and values.
They need to act as an extension of your business, so you need to feel confident they’re a good fit and will represent you in the way you want.
Once you’ve shared your preferred ways of working, what you do and how you do it, the salespeople then usually work remotely from you, talking to prospects as if they’re a part of your team.
How much experience should a salesperson have?
Lead qualification isn’t quite as challenging as lead generation, but it does require specialist skills. You’ll want to know that anyone doing this on your behalf has the required skills and experience, having successfully done lead qualification in the past.
Ask for examples of their experience and if possible, talk to some of their previous clients.
Will the company do the work or will they outsource it?
When talking to a sales lead qualification outsource company, don’t assume they’ll be doing the work, it’s not always the case. Depending on both their size and your size, they may outsource some or all of the work to other companies.
Some good checks to make include asking if:
- you’ll have a dedicated representative working on your business or campaign
- the same people will handle your account every time or will it be split between multiple people or even multiple teams
- all of the people working on your behalf are employed by the company you’re talking to (they may be contracted in or from a larger separate call centre somewhere else)
- everyone working on your behalf has the training and experience needed
As a general rule of thumb, if the people working on your behalf are internal, directly employed and have been with the company for a while, they’re invested in what they do and should give you great results for your sales qualification needs.
Whether you outsource or keep lead qualification inhouse, we recommend it’s a step in your sales process that you give time and thought to. Any investment should pay for itself with the time saved and quality of leads progressed.