Qualifying leads is one of the most important parts of generating leads. By qualifying leads, you can figure out if the contacts you’ve generating from your lead generating activities were actually worthwhile. Otherwise, all the people who’ve signed up for newsletters, sent you emails, handed you business cards or responded to cold calls…well, they’re just names on a list somewhere. To get somewhere, you need to qualify those prospects.
To properly qualify a lead, you need to start asking questions. But, before you get into that, you need to think up a system for noting the status of prospects. Nowadays, most people use contact management software or CRMs, but you could create some sort of system using folders or even boxes of business cards.
Here are the basic ways of noting the status of prosects who have not yet become leads:
- No contact made – not yet contacted
- Can’t be contacted – you have a prospect, but you can’t connect with the key decision-maker
- Need already met – the prospect has already bought or otherwise solved their problem
- Lacks financial authority – if a prospect doesn’t have the financial backing to make a purchase, you won’t be able to make the sale.
- Lacks decision-making authority – the prospect may not be the person to approve the purchase. You may need to try moving up the chain of authority to get approval.
- May not meet requirements to purchase – the prospect may be in the wrong industry, lack information for you to do your job, not have compatible products/tools, etc. This is very common in areas like IT consulting, where you can’t help a client because they use a Mac computer and you only deal with PCs.
If you’ve managed to find a prospect with a current need, an adequate budget, decision-making power, and the requirements to purchase, then you can start the lead qualification process.