June 7, 2022

B2B lead qualification: an all-inclusive user's guide

Effectively qualifying leads isn't easy. Continue reading to learn why lead qualification is so important and how you can effectively do it!

An All-Inclusive User’s Guide to Lead Qualification

As you know, making sales is absolutely essential to the success of any B2B enterprise. But selling your product or service is no easy task, even if your offer blows the competition out of the water. No matter how amazing your product or service is, making sales requires finding potential customers. Acquiring these leads requires you to perform close studies of your consumers, data analysis activities, and strategic sorting methods that place prospective buyers into segmented categories. In this article, we will outline what lead qualification is, how the process works, how it helps your business, how to categorize your leads, and how you can work toward increased lead generation.

What is lead qualification?

These tasks represent the steps of lead qualification: an early stage in the overarching lead-generation process that involves classifying, evaluating, and determining the efficacy of potential customers. Lead qualification requires you to make determinations, categorizations, and judgments regarding the quality of leads and their subsequent placement into your business’ unique marketing/sales funnel.

This process aims to determine which potential customers are most likely to spend money on your product/service and determine whether or not each lead is worth investing time and money in before subsequently utilizing these results to increase your conversions.

Lead qualification allows you to make efficient marketing decisions while continuously optimizing your sales rates. This is an incredibly important step of the sales-funneling process that can lead you to massive augmentations in revenue and conversions but is often neglected by businesses.

What are the basic steps of the lead-qualification process?

While lead-qualification strategies should always be tailored specifically to your business and customer segments, there are a few basic steps you’ll take when executing this practice:

  1. Research and collect as much data as possible about your leads, attempting to understand your prospective buyers and create the profile of your ideal customer.
  2. Measure and continuously monitor sales readiness, deciding which metrics to use for evaluating how close a lead is to making a purchase and then utilizing said metrics to determine the likeliness of each lead becoming a buyer. Don’t forget to differentiate between customer interest and genuine intent.
  3. Design a marketing funnel and use it, performing indirect outreach activities (such as creating quality content) to engage with your leads, generate interest, and continuously send leads further down the funnel (or eliminate them) while making use of all the tools you can.
  4. Perform the actual “lead-qualification” step: sort leads into segments based on each customer profile using one of, or a combination of, the traditional methods or experimental approaches.

This process may seem daunting, but you can make a huge difference in your sales numbers by educating yourself and strategically formulating a plan that utilizes an industry-proven framework.

Why is lead qualification significant for your business?

Without a thoughtfully crafted lead qualification plan in place, it’s unlikely that your marketing tactics will be efficiently deployed, and it is extremely difficult to increase conversions and sales.

By using an overarching lead-qualification system like BANT, ANUM, CHAMP, MEDDIC, or GPCTBA/C&I as well as specific techniques representing proven B2B lead-generation strategies-such as optimizing lead forms, utilizing automated data-analysis or marketing software (like customer relationship management (CRM) systems), and redesigning web pages in a variety of ways. You can enhance your customer profile, categorize leads much more effectively, and better capitalize on sales opportunities.

Strategically optimizing this vital aspect of the sales-funneling process can massively influence your business’ success by saving you time, money, and energy that can be better spent on other growth-focused activities. Properly executing lead-qualification activities allows you to:

  • Better understand your customer.
  • Target and prioritize the customers that truly matter.
  • Personalize, customize, and tailor your marketing content to different client segments (such as MQLs and SQLs), optimizing your ability to successfully and efficiently market.
  • More productively and profitably utilize your resources.
  • Build longer-term relationships with customers.
  • Significantly augment your conversions, sales, and revenues.
  • strategies suchAvoid a massive amount of wasted dollars, time, energy, and hassle(by avoiding unproductive marketing/sales activities).

It’s up to you to do the research, create an action plan based on a strategic framework or approach, and incorporate additional techniques & tricks proven to work in your field. You can also elect to hire a team of qualified lead-generation experts to enhance your approach much more efficiently and effectively on a shorter timeline.

Whatever method you choose, it’s important to clearly define categories of customers based on your metrics and then strategically use those classifications to direct your efforts. Grouping prospective buyers is an essential aspect of your sales process, and in order to do this well you must fully understand the specific kinds of customer groups commonly referred to within the industry.

There are a few main designations you’ll use to categorize and understand leads, but your marketing & sales activities will focus primarily on two types of leads: MQLs and SQLs.

What’s the difference between MQLs (Marketing Qualified Leads) and SQLs (Sales Qualified Leads)?

A Marketing Qualified Lead, or MQL, represents a potential customer who has expressed interest in your product/service in some way (such as by visiting your website, subscribing to a free trial, or engaging on social media) and has been identified as a prospective buyer/client. MQLs fit somewhat into the description of your target customer and are interested in your product or service but are not ready to buy yet and are, therefore, in the very beginning stages of your sales funnel.

MQLs may be missing a characteristic included in the prospective customer description or fail to reach certain thresholds of interest, buyer need, or whatever other metric you’re using to evaluate them.

A Sales Qualified Lead, on the other hand, is a potential customer who is entering the decision-making stage of the buyer’s process, a lead who has been deemed ready to engage with your business's sales team. SQLs fit the profile of your ideal buyer (their needs, wants, and budget requirements are met) and have progressed past the initial interest stage, meaning that your sales experts have determined them as prospective customers much more likely to actually spend money on your product or service.

SQLs are further down the marketing funnel, and finding them is essential to the lead-qualification process.

Why should you differentiate between MQLs and SQLs?

It’s important to determine which prospective customers are MQLs and which are SQLs, as the type of sales-funneling activities your business will direct at these leads will be based on what type of potential buyers you’ll direct your marketing tactics to.

Treating MQLS as SQLs, or vice versa can have dire consequences when it comes to revenue streams, sales, and conversion rates. The success of your sales aims depends largely on the effectiveness of your sales funnel approach and strategies and tailoring your techniques to specific types of customers is an essential way to make your framework work more effectively.

Every lead is unique, but the categorizations we make in the lead-qualification process give us valuable information on how to treat customers in each segment. We know that what works for one type of lead (an MQL) often doesn’t work for another (an SQL).

For example, your business should nurture relationships with MQLs, but shouldn’t attempt to engage directly with them-MQLs usually don’t respond well to premature attempts to turn them into customers. If a person is not quite ready to consider a purchase, targeted attempts to expressly sell a product/service will likely bother them, lead to wasted company time, or simply not work. 

On the other hand, SQLs should be highly prioritized and strategically nudged toward a purchase. These leads are deeper into your sales funnel and are, therefore, more receptive to direct contact from salespeople, specifically tailored offers and calls-to-action aimed at purchases. Your marketing and sales teams should focus primarily on SQLs, as time spent on them is more likely to be well spent and lead to increased conversions.

How can growth-oriented consulting experts help with lead generation?

While you can choose to put large chunks of time, effort, and money into learning the necessary tools of the trade, collecting/analyzing data, utilizing software programs, choosing a strategy, and implementing a plan for optimizing your lead-generation processes, it’s often worth it to hire a growth-oriented firm that specializes in these activities.

Hiring experts is usually worth the cost; they can greatly increase your conversions and often allow you to quickly earn back the money you spent on their services (and more). Lead-generation teams are extensively experienced in determining the absolute best approaches and expanding your revenue quickly, opening up much more time for you and your team to focus on business development.

Professionals optimize your sales funneling process more efficiently than you ever could and protect you even more from unnecessarily spending energy and cash. This makes them a valuable resource and an amazing option for most small to medium-sized enterprises and B2B companies.

What does Growth Leader offer?

Here at Growth Leader, planning &executing strategies for growth is our bread and butter. Our ultimate goal is to effectively help start-ups, entrepreneurs, SMEs, and B2B companies reach their full potential.

We offer customized business-improvement plans tailored to your needs, a dedicated group of staff committed to going above and beyond, and a plethora of revenue-focused strategies, tactics, and incredible resources geared at optimizing conversions and overall success. Your success is our success, and our expert team is laser-focused on transparency, efficiency, and high-quality service & support.

Contact our digital business improvement team to set up a consultation, ask questions, or make a personalized request, and we’ll get back to you within 24 hours.


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