Your lead generation process is spot on. That’s why you’ve acquired hundreds of potential leads – which are sitting at the top of your pipeline. This means, you’re also well aware that not all of these leads will convert.
The process of managing these leads to find the best opportunities to convert is called ‘lead qualification.’ It is a key part of the sales process. Without it, your sales team won’t be able to manage their activities, and therefore waste their time on leads that will never close.
But, what happens after a lead has been qualified? You’ve determined that they are a fit for your business, and there is a higher chance that they may become a customer. How do you go about handling these qualified leads?
There are 5 things you should be doing in order to take a lead further after the first step – qualification. Let’s explore.
Understanding the prospect’s pain points
Effective sales teams actively listen to their customers to understand the challenge their customers are facing and present a solution to solve that unique challenge. In order to prioritize the pipeline, you need to understand where the solution fits in with your customers’ needs.
Michael Harris, the author of Insight Selling and CEO of sales training company Insight Demand, says that diagnosing the customer’s pain points is the first stage of articulating the value that a solution brings. “If you do a good job of helping the customer see the pain points and they realize that they’re drowning, they’ll be ready to be rescued by our solution.” “That’s why we need to act as a guide – asking deep questions and diagnosing the challenge insightfully.”
Offering the right solution
If there is a fit, and you can solve the prospect’s challenge, then you have just entered the “Opportunity” phase. There is potential to sell to this prospect. This is a critical part of the qualification process because when the qualified lead sees that you have the solution that fits their specific needs, they will move forward in the engagement process and further down in the pipeline.
Lead follow-up is a crucial step in the sales process. A qualified lead can be wasted if it is left lingering on the vine.
According to Harvard Business Review (HBR), if a lead is not followed up within the first 5 minutes, there is a 10 times decrease in actually hearing back from the lead. Nevertheless, 23% of companies never respond to inbound sales leads. Don’t let these potential customers fall through the cracks. The remedy is to ensure timely follow-ups.
There are 3 things you should keep in mind during the follow-up process:
- Distribute the lead wisely. Ensure that after the lead is handed to a sales rep, s/he has the time to follow up.
- Don’t wait. Follow up as soon as possible. If a lead has shown interest by responding to an email, or after an appointment, respond quickly so the lead isn’t overlooked.
- Be persistent. Persistence is the key. Although prospects are busy, and may not return a call or an email the first time – regardless of if they are interested or not, it is important that you keep on reminding them that you are still there, available to help.
Close the deal, whether it’s won or lost (Don’t waste time on dead opportunities).
It’s important to recognize that there is a time when a lead should be left on the table to invest time in leads that aren’t opportunities. It is a common mistake believing that every lead is going to become a customer. It’s true – a qualified lead must be approached with optimism and potential, but, when a lead flat lines, there is nothing that is going to resuscitate it.
Here are 5 things to pay attention to which are indications of a lead that won’t close:
- The prospect doesn’t need what you are selling
- You’re not talking to the right person
- The company doesn’t have a budget
- The lead doesn’t have a deadline
- Your solution doesn’t have the features the company needs
It may be hard to say goodbye, but it’s important to recognize that you’ve hit a dead end with the lead. Otherwise, you’ll end up spinning wheels, losing the opportunity to work with leads that have the potential to close.
Remember the lead that had responded to a follow-up email? Or the lead who you had an appointment with but the deal didn’t go through? Many companies have leads that have been qualified but didn’t close.
Don’t be discouraged. The story doesn’t necessarily end there. It’s possible to re-engage these leads at a later time. Simply, put them through your marketing campaigns again, nurture them further, and create sales touchpoints to re-start the engagement.
Don’t overlook a valuable asset: leads that have been in your pipeline already, but didn’t close. Reconnecting with them in the future is a good way to engage more.
The next steps after the qualification of a lead aren’t particularly difficult, but they are extremely important. Make the most of the leads that are in your pipeline. Create a sales process that pushes them further down, and to a final sale.
How effectively are you interacting with your qualified leads? It may be time to consider automating your touchpoints with qualified leads.