November 18, 2020
Identifying sales-qualified leads (SQLs) is all about evaluating a prospect’s suitability to your product or service.
And it’s a big deal.
Because without proper qualification, your SaaS sales team will end up wasting their time with people who aren’t ready to buy.
That makes them annoyed. And it hits your business in the pocket.
So how do you go about doing it properly?
(That’s on the back of bringing in 84 SQLs in October 2020).
Buckle in and let’s get started. 👇🏼
Before we get into SQLs, we need to talk about what comes before them. That, of course, is marketing-qualified leads (MQLs).
An MQL is someone who’s come through your lead generation strategy and has been deemed likely to become a customer. The qualification is based on engagements the person makes with your content.
The marketing team, including content marketers, campaign marketers and performance marketers, make this call. They review things like:
Once satisfied, the marketing team passes the lead over to sales. And depending on the strength of your qualification process, they could later become SQLs.
To see if the MQLs can move further through the marketing funnel, the sales team - including Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) and Business Development Managers (BDMs) - initiates direct contact with them. Usually, this takes the form of a sales phone call.
When the sales team is happy the MQLs show concrete intent to buy your product or service, like magic, they become SQLs.
Now for the good stuff.
To make sure your SQLs are always on point, you need to use a formula.
At Cognism, we use BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, Time).
To a certain extent, successfully identifying SQLs is a money question.
After all, a prospect could be your company’s biggest fan. But they could have the world’s smallest budget.
To avoid any awkwardness, Jon advises you to get this part of the conversation out of the way quickly.
“Always ask your prospect if they’re comfortable with your price point. Then you can start thinking about building an implementation plan and setting timescales.”
If you want shorter sales cycles and higher conversions, you need a solid grasp of your prospects' finances.
Great, you’ve got a high-intent prospect.
Not so great, it’s someone who’s currently being onboarded at the company. In the most junior position they have.
To properly identify an SQL…
“Deciding SQLs isn’t single-threaded. You need to find a way to engage the multiple stakeholders who are involved in the decision-making process and understand the business impact of a purchase.”
Your ideal customer profile (ICP) should guide you when targeting prospects. A solid one will mean you target people with the right seniority most of the time.
No one wants bad-fit customers. Literally, not a soul.
That’s because your life and theirs will be made far more difficult than it needs to be. All because you didn’t properly qualify a lead.
To make sure that doesn’t happen...
“Prospects need to state clearly that your product or service is a top priority for them and their business.”
The more good-fit customers you have, the more you'll retain. That'll allow you to scale your sales quickly.
Super-long deal cycles suck. HARD.
That’s why it’s best practice to:
Ole speaks from experience when he says:
“You should focus your attention on prospects looking to buy within the next quarter. If there’s no urgency, it’s likely there’s no immediate need for your product or service.”
Clogging up your pipeline will frustrate your team. But by using the BANT criteria, you can determine if your leads are "sales-ready".
Researching your leads thoroughly, focusing on their pain points and outlining how your product solves them is the bread and butter of B2B sales.
But where do you go from there? And how can you build a predictable engine for lead qualification?
Well, at Cognism, we’ve developed a lead-scoring system.
By giving each lead a grade, we can prioritise warmer leads and accelerate our sales cycle. To do this, we consider lead scoring factors like:
The final point here will depend on your business and network.
But you might find that leads from a targeted ad are more (or less) interested in buying than those who search for your business directly.
Taken collectively, these actions make it clear your prospect will be receptive to a call from your sales team.
And as a result, you’ll be able to build a solid list of sales-qualified leads.
Defining your process and criteria for lead qualification will make sure your sales team spends their time pursuing quality prospects.
But if you need more help, we’ve got you covered.
Download our Outbound Prospecting Playbook and level up your sales today. ☝🏼