Lead Qualification 101: Definition, Purpose, Process, & Frameworks

Lead generation 101

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Growing your business is easier said than done. It’s not just about generating leads—it’s about generating qualified leads. While lead qualification is an essential part of the sales process, a lot of businesses don’t do it properly.

What is lead qualification?

Lead qualification refers to the process of determining if a lead is likely to sign up for your services. It’s a critical part of the B2B sales process.

This should not be confused with lead generation—which is the process of attracting people and getting them to be interested in what you’re offering. Social media campaigns, webinars, ebooks, and the like are all part of lead generation strategies.

But here’s the thing: not all leads will be clients. 

Some may just be interested in your content. Some may be interested in being clients, but not right away. Some may want to be clients right away, but they don’t have the budget.

While it’s a marketing challenge to generate good leads, the truth is that sales success depends on a good lead qualification process.

What is the purpose of lead qualification?

Did you know that 79% of marketing leads don’t convert into sales? What does this mean? It means that for all of the effort and resources you put in, you only get a few conversions.

Lead qualification helps you zero in on valuable leads that are most likely to convert. That way, your sales team can spend their time in the best way possible. 

For example:

  • If you don’t qualify your leads, your sales team will probably talk to 100 leads that are not yet ready to convert due to reasons like budget, priorities, etc. 
  • If you qualify your leads, your sales team can connect with fewer leads who are ready to convert.

Now, here’s a common question we always get: Does qualifying leads also involve disqualifying others?

The answer is yes. This may seem risky at the start. After all, businesses need new customers, so why will you turn leads away?

The truth is, qualifying leads properly will reduce the time, effort, and resources that your team spends when they chase leads who are not likely to convert.

So disqualifying leads is actually good from a business standpoint—because it helps you maximize your resources to focus on leads that will most likely convert.

How does the lead qualification process work?

The simplified lead qualification process consists of the following steps:

  1. Development and finalization of ICP (Ideal Customer Profile)
  2. Implementation of lead qualification framework
  3. Movement of qualified leads down the sales funnel
  4. Closure of sale

Let’s go through each step.

Step 1: Development and finalization of ICP (Ideal Customer Profile)

The ICP describes your target customers, industry, pain points, authority, and spending abilities. For B2B, you can also include company size and revenue. 

When you qualify leads, you will compare them to your ICP to keep you in the right direction. 

Step 2: Implementation of lead qualification framework

A lead qualification framework is a set of criteria used to qualify the leads generated from marketing campaigns.

During this step, sales reps usually hop on a discovery call with the lead to identify if they are qualified or not. Then, they ask a bunch of qualifying questions depending on their criteria designed to determine if a lead will move forward or not.

By the end of the discovery call, the leads will be categorized into different categories. Quick note: categories will depend on what works best for your business, similar to how sales pipeline stages differ from business to business. 

Step 3: Movement of qualified leads down the sales funnel

When your leads are qualified, then you can move them down to the next stage of your sales process. This usually involves crafting the proposal, sending it over, handling objections, and scheduling follow-ups.

Now, what happens to those leads who aren’t qualified? You can include them in your nurture flow, and eventually, they might qualify.

Step 4: Closure of sale

Finally, the lead will come to a decision and your sales team can mark the lead as either “closed won” or “closed lost.”

4 examples of lead qualification frameworks

There are so many different methods that businesses use to qualify their leads. Ultimately, it really depends on your ICP.

It’s important to be familiar with some of the most commonly used lead qualification frameworks so you can identify which one is the most appropriate and applicable to your business.

The BANT Framework

BANT stands for Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeline. These four pieces of information make up the lead qualification criteria.

Developed by IBM, the BANT framework is pretty easy to follow because of its simplicity. It’s very straightforward—allowing sales reps to save time and energy because they can quickly qualify or disqualify leads.

The overarching idea is that a lead needs to fulfill all four criteria for it to be considered “qualified.”

  • Budget: Is the lead capable of buying/signing up? Can they afford your service? 
  • Authority: Is the lead in a position that can make a purchase decision? 
  • Need: Does the lead have a problem that your business can solve?
  • Time: When is the lead planning to buy or sign up? Is there a sense of urgency?

Sales reps usually have a set of questions to help them arrive at a final decision. Some examples of qualifying questions include:

  • How much is your business planning to invest in a solution to your problem?
  • What is the decision-making process in your business?
  • What are the challenges your business is facing?
  • What is your timeline for implementing this solution?

Do remember that these are just examples—you are free to tailor your questions so your sales team can identify the leads that are worth pursuing

The CHAMP Method

The CHAMP method (Challenges, Authority, Money, and Prioritization) was developed as a response to BANT.

The main difference is that the primary interest is the lead’s challenges.

So even though CHAMP is more focused on the customers’ needs, it doesn’t dive that deep into what success looks like from the customer standpoint. Because of this, your sales team might have a tough time creating a tailored proposal for each qualified lead.

The MEDDIC Framework

MEDDIC stands for Metrics, Economic Buyer, Decision Criteria, Decision Process, Identify Pain, Champion

This framework requires sales reps to really take a deep dive and understand everything about the lead’s purchase process:

  • Metrics: What is the economic impact of the solution? Once you know what the lead’s objectives are, then you can position your solution as one with a good ROI.
  • Economic Buyer: The one in charge of budgets, and who holds the power and authority for use of funds. 
  • Decision Criteria: What is the lead’s formal criteria when comparing products or services? Knowing this will help you tailor the way you position your solution.
  • Decision Process: How do they make decisions? Who is involved? What is the usual timeframe before a decision is made?
  • Identify Pain: What are their pain points and their needs? If they don’t do anything about it, what could be the impact to their business?
  • Champion: Is there someone on the inside who can influence decisions and who sells on your behalf? This person will be your main collaborator.

Because of its focus on the purchase process, MEDDIC is best used if you’re selling to enterprise companies or if your product or service involves a change in behavior or processes for the company that will buy or sign up for it.

The GPCTBA/C&I Framework

Developed by HubSpot, this framework is designed to focus on customers’ needs. This long acronym stands for:

  • Goals: What is the company’s number one priority at this moment? 
  • Plans: How does the company plan to achieve this goal?
  • Challenges: What are the difficulties that your company foresees? 
  • Timeline: When is the company’s deadline to solve this need? If the date is not met, what are the actions to be done?
  • Budget: How much has already been spent on this goal? How much is the total budget the company can allocate?
  • Authority: Who in the company are involved in purchase decisions and what are their concerns?
  • Consequences: What will happen if the company does not achieve the goal? What is the opportunity cost if the company decides to keep things the way they are today?
  • Implications: Once the goal is achieved, what opportunities will open? What comes next?

Because of the depth of information that the GPCTBA/C&I Framework seeks to uncover, sales reps can position the product or service as a true contributor of value. 

While this framework can unlock tons of valuable information, it is very dependent on the SDRs’ skill sets. Sales reps who are not yet that familiar with this framework will need to practice being able to converse naturally while tackling all these concerns. Inexperienced SDRs might come across as interrogators or investigators.

Wrap Up: Take your business to the next level with strategic lead generation

Essentially, lead qualification enables your company to maximize your resources—especially the time and energy of your sales team. 

Now, imagine if you had a solid marketing strategy that funnels in tons of inbound leads. Then a lead qualification process and experienced SDRs to help filter quality leads.

Chances are, you’ll have a constant influx of new business. 

Confused about which lead qualification framework will be best for your business? Or do you lack the manpower and resources needed to manage a smooth lead qualification process? Go ahead and schedule a free consultation with our experts—let’s see what we can do to fill in those gaps.

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