Quality over quantity: that’s the best way to think about how lead qualification can help your business.
If you’re eager to get the most out of every job opportunity, then knowing how to qualifyleads will help you to reach and exceed your sales targets.
While it’s easy to think that doing more jobs will get you a lot of money, if those jobs are low value, then the return on your investment will also be low. That’s true of both your time and money.
This is where the sales lead qualification process comes in most useful.
Lead qualification helps your business focus on the prospects who best fit your services.
In this way you can more efficiently manage your sales pipeline. It will mean your staff can use their own time more productively to convert leads into paying customers. This means boosting profits, too!
Lead qualification is all about establishing whether or not a prospect is a good fit for your services. If deemed a good fit, then the sales prospect will become known as a sales qualified lead (or SQL).
Once qualified, it’s then the job of your team to convert an SQL into a paying customer.
Discover everything you need to know to create a winning sales strategy.
How is lead qualification different from lead generation?
We’ve already mentioned a few key phrases like “sales prospect” and “sales lead”. But it’s important to distinguish “lead qualification” versus “lead generation”. They’re two different sides of the same coin and you can’t do one without the other.
Lead generation is all about finding customers and attracting prospects to your business in the first place. However, attracting attention can leave you with a lot of prospects to sift through. It’s that quantity of potential customers that can be overwhelming to manage. Without an efficient way to assess a lead, it can mean you miss out on deals and more immediate opportunities.
That’s where lead qualification comes in, as described above.
After all, not every person who inquires about your services is going to be a perfect match. There are all sorts of factors that will influence their suitability and the decision making process. For instance, some people will simply want information, others may have niche needs you’re not actually equipped to handle. For some, price might also be a roadblock.
While these leads aren’t ready to buy from you, that doesn’t mean you should discard them; it’s helpful to discover these details so that you can establish if they’re ready to buy from you sooner, rather than later, or even if there’s another way to help them. That’s what qualifying a lead means.
Ultimately, lead qualification will help you to refine your list of leads so you can work more efficiently.
While many service, maintenance, and installation businesses don’t have trouble with lead generation itself, qualifying leads and managing a sales pipeline is a different ball game.
But when your leads are organised, your team can approach sales and customer service with greater insight and care.
This will improve the qualify of the services provided and help boost conversion rate into actual paid jobs, too.
Below, we’ll explore what the sales lead qualification process looks like. We’ll also demonstrate a simple but effective way to boost sales and help you find success with your sales strategy.
What does the sales qualification process look like?
There are all sorts of different strategies for qualifying leads. However, rather than bog you down with a huge variety, let’s keep things simple.
If you’re getting started with sales strategies for the first, a simple approach is best. It’s also useful to remember that simple solutions can still be incredibly effective!
For instance, one of the most common approaches to lead qualification is to follow the BANT model:
B = Budget – what is the prospect’s budget?
A = Authority – who is making the buying decision?
N = Need – what work do they need done?
T = Timeline – when do they need the work done?
If you can obtain these simple details, you can qualify leads quickly, and effectively. Let’s break them down with a bit more detail:
Establishing what a prospect’s budget is can help you establish what options are available to both you and the customer. It ties into Need, but presenting clear prices and options for your services is a great way to ensure leads are aware, ahead of time, if they can afford your services or what level of service they’d prefer.
For instance, you could consider listing bronze, silver, or gold tier levels of services on your website. This will help customers frame what they’re able to spend and save everyone time. It’s a way of passively qualifying leads, as customers can see you prices and make decisions without necessarily having to make a call.
Alternatively, if they do reach out, further discussing budget might reveal that they could benefit from financial assistance, say for an urgent service. However it is that you help them establish their budget, you can have productive conversations to take action sooner, rather than later.
This is about the actual person inquiring to buy/purchase your services. Qualifying the authority of the lead is an important time-saving step. After all, you don’t want to spend too much time pitching and talking to the person who isn’t the decision maker.
Typically, this is unlikely to be a problem for domestic clients where odds are it’s the homeowner you’re speaking with. However, for commercial properties and jobs, it could be that the first inquiry is made by an employee or other staff member who’s on a fact-finding mission for their boss. They may be responsible for passing on information, but establishing who makes the final say and actually purchasing your services will help move a sale forward more quickly.
Figuring out if you can actually help a customer is incredibly important. Obvious as it may sound, it’s useful to establish if you really are the right fit for their needs. For many installation, service, and maintenance businesses, customers will come to you for a specific need, this is true, but there are many factors that can decide if you are the best choice.
Your price, appointment availability, location, even the skills of engineers and staff, these and more play a part in understanding if you can genuinely help the customer. Remember: just because they’re willing to pay you doesn’t automatically make them a good fit.
This is also a two way street. You need to know if the job that the lead is inquiring about is for now or in the future. I.e. is it an urgent repair or a planned installation? Depending on the urgency, you also need to know if you have the capacity to take on the job.
Balancing engineer diaries and knowing what your capacity is can make or break if you’re able to help a customer. It’s important to be transparent about the availability of your services and establish a timeline for a job, too.
Putting BANT into practice:
Establishing these 4 points (achieved through a combo of sales lead qualification questions, which we’ll get to below) you’ll be that much closer to qualifying a lead. From there, you can prioritise different leads into different stages of an opportunity.
Of course, jobs can and will get more complex over time, which can depend on the type of business you run and service you provide, but at the core of any sales qualification, BANT is a great place to start. The main thing is you take the time to engage with a customer and discover the basics of what they’re after and whether or not you can help them.
While it may sound time-consuming, it doesn’t need to be.
Helpful questions, combined digital tools, can assist your team so that qualifying leads takes moments, not hours (or woese, days).
Let’s explore some specific questions to use when qualifying leads:
Examples of lead qualification questions
There aren’t the be-all-and-end-all questions, so don’t be afraid to think outside the box and apply your own knowledge of your services and availability to individual leads, too.
Questions may also differ depending on if you’re speaking to commercial or domestic customers, or if a job is likely to be a single-day or multi-visit appointment.
Regardless, these are all questions to help you get started and can help in the qualification process.
Here are a few broad questions you could ask customers to help with queries regarding budget, authority, need, and timing:
We have a few options/solutions for you in X price range, what’s your budget for this job?
What exactly are you hoping for from this solution? It may be we have solutions you hadn’t considered…
What matters most to you, comfort, cost, efficiency?
Would it be all right if I followed up on mm/dd/yyyy?”
What solutions have you had in the past?
Qualifying leads can be a matter of logistics, timing, cost, even travel and location. It’s a form of qualification as well as objection handling, where useful, practical questions can help everyone in the decision-making process.
It’s worth thinking about how taking on one job could impact others. This way you can establish quality jobs over unprofitable quantity. Or, even better, figure out if less profitable but still important jobs—like service appointments—can be dealt with more efficiently).
Of course, this is where job management tools can help to save you time and effort. For instance, intelligent scheduling can help you to navigate dates and diaries, assisting staff as they figure out when exactly you can do a job or a customer.
There are even tools to help you streamline the entire sales process, with software designed to take customers through from first inquiry to completion.
What impact will lead qualification have?
With all the information that you’ve gathered, it will be much easier to see what prospects are more ready to buy from you vs. those who, say, are just searching for information.
These are still positive results, though. After all, you might find that a lead is a suitable customer who you can help, but they simply don’t need your help right now.
Rather than cast them aside and send them to a competitor, be proactive and use your CRM to make a note to come back to them later. Keep-in-touch marketing via emails, social media, and more, is a great way to ensure that even if a lead doesn’t immediately convert into a sale, they’re still a prospect you can come back to later.
Whether it’s an email or a phone call, or the customer reaching out to you again, ensuring you have notes to hand and usable data means that disqualifying a lead for now, doesn’t mean disqualifying them forever. Ultimately, it’s all about making sure you’re prioritising your time and managing leads appropriately in line with your services.
Learn how to Stop Quoting and Start Selling!
Qualifying leads is just one part of the sales strategy that can help transform your business.
To build out your strategy we’d encourage you to download our free guide “Stop Quoting, Start Selling.” You can also go ahead and check outthe Ultimate Guide to Sales Strategy. #
It’s a resource dedicated to help service, maintenance, and installation businesses master the art of selling.
Whether it’s adopting a sales mindset, controlling your sales pipeline, or building winning sales proposals we cover all you need to know to create a winning sales strategy:
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