If you’re like most sales professionals, you spend a lot of time on lead qualification. After all, the quality of your leads is essential to your success.

Being in sales is all about getting the right leads in front of the right people. Lead qualification is key to making sure that you’re not wasting your time (and your prospect’s time) with unqualified leads.

In fact, a study conducted by the B2B Technology Marketing Community found that 61% of B2B marketers consider generating high-quality leads is one of their biggest challenges.

Furthermore, luckily for you, this is something that a lot of businesses overlook or simply don’t do properly. In fact, 67% of lost sales occur because of this exact problem.

So, if you can get your lead qualification process right, you’re already ahead of the majority of your competition.

But what does it mean to qualify a lead? And how do you go about doing it?

In this article, we’ll answer all of those questions and more. We’ll give you a step-by-step guide to qualifying your leads as well as some best practices to keep in mind.

So, if you’re ready to learn everything about lead qualification, let’s get started.

What is lead qualification?

Lead qualification is the process of determining whether or not a lead is ready to buy your product or services.

This is important because, as we mentioned before, you shouldn’t waste your time on unqualified leads instead of doing actual sales.

Think about it this way, if you’re selling a new car to someone who just bought a new car, they’re not going to be interested.

On the other hand, if you’re trying to sell a new car to someone whose old car just broke down, they’re much more likely to be interested.

Lead qualification is a way to separate the two so that you can focus your time and energy on selling to people who are truly interested.

With that in mind, it’s important to note that lead qualification is not the same as lead generation. Lead generation is the process of getting people interested in your product or service in the first place.

Lead qualification, however, boils down to determining whether or not those leads are actually worth your time.

Marketing Qualified Leads vs. Sales Qualified Leads

Having answered the question, “what is lead qualification?” We need to make a very important distinction here. There are two types of leads that you need to be aware of:

  • Marketing Qualified Leads: MQLs are, quite simply, leads that have been determined to be a good fit for your product or service but are not yet ready to make the purchase.
  • Sales Qualified Leads: SQLs are, on the other hand, leads that have been deemed ready for sales. In other words, it’s a lead that’s been determined to be a good fit for your product or service and is interested in buying.

At its foundation, the main difference between the two terms is that an MQL becomes an SQL once your team has nurtured them sufficiently and they are ready to move forward in your sales funnel.

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Why is lead qualification important?

As we’ve already established, lead qualification is the process of determining whether or not a lead is ready to purchase your product or service.

But why does that matter? Why is lead qualification so important?

The answer is simple: time and resources.

If you’re trying to sell your product to someone who’s not interested, you’re wasting your time. And time is money.

And if you’re trying to sell your product to someone who’s not ready, you’re wasting valuable resources like marketing collateral and sales bandwidth.

By qualifying your leads upfront, you can save your company a lot of time and money in the long run. Not to mention, it will make your job a lot easier as well.

Other advantages of lead qualification include:

  • Improved customer experience: The sales team can provide a much better customer experience since they’re not trying to sell to people who have no interest.
  • Higher close rates: When you qualify your leads, you’re only considering sales-ready leads to your sales team. Thus, the sales team is considerably more likely to close the deal.
  • Better use of marketing resources: You can ensure that your marketing team is only creating content for people who will have their attention drawn by it.
  • Improved data quality: You can also guarantee that the data you have is accurate and up-to-date. This is important because bad data can lead to all sorts of problems down the line.

Although this isn’t an exhaustive list, the takeaway is that lead qualification is important because it benefits the bottom line of your business in a number of ways. But how do you go about qualifying your leads? Let’s take a look.

How to qualify a lead?

Now that we know what lead qualification is and why it matters, it’s time to dive into how you can actually go about qualifying your leads.

We can break down the process of lead qualification into four main steps:

Define your ideal customer profile:

The first step is to establish who your ideal customer is. This involves creating a persona that takes into account factors like their age, location, job title, income, pain points, and so on.

Once you have a good understanding of who your ideal customer is, you’ll be in a much better position to qualify (or disqualify) leads.

Identify your leads:

The next step is to identify your leads. There are a number of ways to do this, but some common methods include lead capture forms on your website, gated content offers, webinars, and so on. We have a number of guides on lead generation that you can check out for more information.

Research & evaluate your leads:

Once you have a list of leads, it’s time to start evaluating them. This involves researching each lead to see if they meet your ideal customer criteria.

There are a number of ways to do this research, mostly automation-based. Alternatively, you can do it manually by reaching out to the lead and asking them the questions you need. The goal here is to identify which leads are worth pursuing and which ones aren’t.

Score your leads:

Lastly, it’s time to start scoring your leads. This involves assigning a numerical score to each lead based on the different actions they’ve taken and the data you’ve gathered about them.

For example, a lead that visited your pricing page multiple times is likely to be further along in their buyer’s journey than a lead who only visited your website once. Thus, they would get a higher score.

Once you’ve scored your leads, you can prioritize them accordingly and start working on converting them into customers.

Lead qualification frameworks

Now that we’ve gone over the basics of lead qualification, it’s time to dive into some of the frameworks you can use.

A qualification framework is essentially a set of criteria that you can use to qualify your leads.

The most popular ones are BANT, CHAMP, MEDDIC, and GPCTBA/C&I. Let’s take a look at each one in more detail.

BANT

BANT is one of the most popular lead qualification frameworks and it stands for Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeline.

The idea behind it is that you can’t sell to a lead unless they have the:

  • Budget: Can they afford your product or service?
  • Authority: Are they in a position of authority to make decisions within their organization?
  • Need: Do they have a need for your product or service?
  • Timeline: Is there a sense of urgency? Do they need your product or service now or in the future?

Check out some examples of BANT questions you can ask to qualify your leads:

  • Does your organization have the budget to invest in a new solution?
  • What is your purchasing timeline?
  • When are you looking to implement a new solution?
  • What is the decision-making process within your organization?
  • What is your budget for this project?

Keep in mind that these are just examples and you’ll need to tailor your questions to fit your specific product or service.

The main advantage of BANT is that it helps sales reps quickly qualify or disqualify leads. This can save a lot of time and energy, as reps can focus on pursuing leads that are more likely to convert. 

However, BANT does have some drawbacks. One is that it’s quite simplistic and doesn’t take into account all of the factors that could influence a lead’s decision-making process. For instance, it’s important to note that it doesn’t take into account the lead’s likelihood to purchase or their interest level.

Additionally, some leads may not have all of the information required to accurately answer the BANT questions. In these cases, sales reps may need to do some additional research in order to determine whether or not the lead is worth pursuing.

CHAMP

CHAMP is another popular lead qualification framework and it stands for CHallenges, Authority, Money, Prioritization.

Similar to BANT, CHAMP boils down to qualifying your leads based on their ability to budget, make decisions, and implement your product or service. The main difference is that CHAMP emphasizes the importance of identifying the challenges faced by your lead, as well as their priorities.

Nonetheless, one of the biggest criticisms of CHAMP is that it’s too prescriptive and can lead to sales reps spending more time on low-quality leads that they’ll never close, which is counterproductive, to say the least.

Additionally, the CHAMP framework doesn’t account for new leads that come in after the initial lead qualification process has been completed.

While it is a valuable tool for sales teams, it’s important to keep CHAMP’s limitations in mind when implementing it.

You should consider using it if you:

  • Need a more comprehensive way to qualify your leads.
  • Want a lead qualification framework that takes into account the challenges faced by your leads.

MEDDIC

MEDDIC is another lead qualification framework that’s often used in enterprise sales. It stands for Metrics, Economic buyer, Decision criteria, Decision process, Identify pain, and find your Champion (which stands for someone on the inside who is invested in your success and pushes for you).

The main advantage of MEDDIC is that it’s a comprehensive framework that takes into account most, if not all, of the factors that could influence a lead’s decision-making process.

Additionally, it’s flexible and can be adapted to fit the needs of your specific product or service.

However, MEDDIC does have some drawbacks. One is that it’s quite complex and can be time-consuming to implement. Additionally, it doesn’t account for important factors like market size or the prospect’s willingness to pay. As a result, it’s important to use the MEDDIC framework as one part of a larger process for sales lead qualification.

Furthermore, the framework is best used with larger sales leads. When evaluating smaller leads, other factors may be more important than those captured by the MEDDIC framework.

Despite its limitations, the MEDDIC framework can be a valuable tool for sales teams. When used correctly, it can help you identify and assess prospects, and ultimately close more deals.

GPCTBA/C&I

It’s a mouthful, we know… But trust me, this is important.

GPCTBA/C&I is a lead qualification framework that’s often used in technology sales. It stands for Goals, Plans, Challenges, Timeline, Budget, and Authority/ negative Consequences and potential Implications.

Developed by HubSpot, the qualification framework is designed to help sales reps quickly identify whether or not a lead is worth pursuing.

GPCTBA/C&I is similar to other frameworks in that it takes into account factors like budget and decision-making authority. However, the main difference is that it responds to the ever-changing buying behaviors of your audience.

With GPCTBA/C&I, sales reps are able to quickly adapt their lead qualification process to the specific needs of each lead.

On top of that, the GPCTBA/C&I framework takes into account the negative consequences of pursuing a lead that’s not a good fit. This helps sales reps avoid wasting time on leads that are unlikely to convert.

While the GPCTBA/C&I framework is a valuable tool for sales teams, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s not a silver bullet. It’s simply one tool among countless others.

No lead qualification framework is perfect, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. When choosing a lead qualification framework, it’s important to consider the specific needs of your teams. The best way to ensure success is to experiment with different frameworks and find the one that works best for them.

Time to qualify your leads

And that’s all there is to it! Of course, lead qualification is a complex process but also an essential one for any business, no matter the size or industry.

By taking the time to understand your leads and their needs, you can focus your efforts on those who are most likely to convert into customers. And by using the right frameworks and methods, you can make lead qualification a quick and easy process that will save you time and money in the long run.

Do you have any tips of your own to share? Let us know in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!