How to Qualify and Warm up Sales Leads Quickly and Effectively
When qualifying sales leads, it’s not just a question of selling. You personally need to make a lot of quick judgments and decisions about the needs of not only the person on the phone, but their company as a whole.
Typically, qualifying leads follows the mantra of BANT:
- The Budget your lead has to work with
- Do they have the Authority to make decisions?
- How much do they Need your product or service?
- Yours and your lead’s individual Timescale
It’s all very well to repeat this until you go blue in the face, but how do you approach the task of deciding whether a lead qualifies? You know what to do, but how do you do it?
Well, in this post we have seven simple steps to help you qualify sales leads and be clear that you’re on the right page for successful decision making.
- Start as you intend to go on
As this is a qualifying call, you are there to clarify whether you and the lead can work together. It’s not just a case of you trying to sell them something.
Before you make your call make sure to:
- Take couple of breaths to freshen up
- Look through your initial notes
- Make sure you know your own business’s product details inside out
It’s important to see yourself as the one making the call – as in the one making the decisions, rather than thinking it’s all about the lead. You role is important; it’s you that can help the lead and decide if they qualify. So a confident and helpful manner can work wonders for boosting both yours and your lead’s confidence.
- Context is key
The first key question for you should be ‘What do they want from me?’ and then ‘Why did they come to me?’
Gathering information on how your lead found out about your business and why they are choosing to approach you at this time, can be crucial for finding out what kind of lead they are.
Their knowledge of your business will depend on if they have for instance, seen one advert of yours, or been referred to you by another client or company.
Establishing little tid bits of important context like this can help you get a bigger picture of their needs, how much you might need to explain to them, and to the extent that you can help them.
- Keep your objectives in mind
It’s obviously important to be helpful to your lead but keep in mind the objectives and goals of you and your company. Keep in mind that you are trying to find out if they can fit into your company’s niche market.
Remember, you are not only trying to build the foundations to make a sale, but also to rule out any leads which are not suitable – without wasting too much of your time or theirs.
The danger with any lead is that they can ramble on occasionally, and not all the information they give you will be relevant. A good technique is to give them two questions to answer, for example ‘I’ve just got two questions and these will give us a better picture’.
By giving them a limit in the form of answering a question, your lead is less likely to ramble. If you’re answering a pointed question you are more likely to keep your answer short and concise.
- Identify any problems
From the contextual gist you gather from them, you can then identify the problems that have hindered your lead in accomplishing their goals or hindered their progress so far.
This means that you can achieve two goals of your own at the same time. Firstly, you are gathering more knowledge on their methods and the specific problems created by it. Secondly, you can infer from this the ways in which your product/service might be able to help them.
This is where BANT can be helpful; although asking a variety of questions rather than the four basic (budget, authority, need, timescale) ones may encourage your lead to give more information.
Remember to be aware of your language when talking through problems. It’s good to identify any problems that your lead has, so that you can demonstrate to him that you have the solution. Problems = needs that you can fill.
For example, if your lead says ‘X is not currently working as well as it could’ you have an opportunity to fix it for them.
- Make it easy for them
Your prospective leads will vary from person to person and not all of them will be tech wizards. As you are there to ultimately do business with them, providing the right support can encourage them to stay with you through the process.
According to Forrester Research, 38% of consumers make a purchase due to a live chat. With this in mind, there are things you can (and should) do to show your lead that you understand their needs:
- Make sure the sales process (and your website) are streamlined for a fluid transaction
- If a specialist is needed, being able to connect your lead with one via live chat or phone shows good awareness of their needs
Being on the ball and providing an efficient pace to the call can be the crucial difference that keeps your lead on your site and encouraging them to buy.
- Show you are listening to them
You can’t put enough emphasis on gaining your lead’s trust.
Having garnered a variety of information on them and their needs, you should now be able to reiterate it them, with additions on how you can help them achieve their goals and solve the established problems.
There are plenty of tips on sales etiquette but the essential ones to remember are:
- A clear voice
- Keep calm throughout
- Have patience even if you need to repeat yourself a lot
- Make a note of everything your lead tells you
- Give them information that is relevant to their business, their problems and their goals
A salesperson who actually listens instead of continually plugging one product to every lead, will be respected and recommended by leads – whether they qualify or not.
- Close the deal or the call
Hopefully, by the end of the call you will have qualified the lead and pre-sold them on what you can potentially do for them.
If the lead is good, you can move on to explain the next step of the sales process. Remember to keep the same clear language and helpful attitude that you’ve had so far!
If not, then politely explain why on this occasion it’s not the right mix. It never hurts to refer them onwards or recommend a business that can help them if you know one. This shows you to be genuinely helpful and hours your objective of helping them and you by ensuring there’s goodwill on both sides.
Just because a lead doesn’t qualify right now, doesn’t mean they won’t in the future, so don’t burn any bridges, leads will respect your honesty, even if you can’t help them on this occasion.
A key aspect of qualifying sales leads efficiently is building a good relationship. The BANT framework works well as a guide but it only forms part of your process. Sticking religiously to it like a robot won’t keep a lead on the phone.
Your objective is to gather all the relevant information about your lead, their company and their goals.
All of this comes down to you being able to balance yours and the lead’s interests professionally. Practice makes perfect so keep using these seven steps to make your qualifying quicker and better.