What is sales qualification? Examples of sales qualification questions

79% of leads generated by marketing do not actually convert into a sale. This is a frustrating reality, leaving a small pool of leads that represent less than a quarter of the sales opportunities for your business.

Additionally, 61% of B2B marketers pass all generated leads directly to sales, which is even more aggravating for these teams as they have to spend many hours looking for that small percentage of leads that can be qualified. Let’s be honest, there’s already a lot on their plate.

These statistics reveal a pattern of mismanagement in the lead qualification process that your team can avoid. So stop asking yourself “Who is a qualified prospect and who is an imposter?”. Start asking the right questions! What is a sales pipeline? What are the common stages of the sales pipeline?

What is sales qualification?

Sales qualification is the process of evaluating leads that seek to understand whether these leads are a good fit for your product or service. Simply put, it determines whether the lead has the potential to go to the bottom of the sales funnel and become your paying customer.

Knowing exactly which position the lead acquires in your sales funnel saves you time and makes cooperation much easier and faster.

And since more than 70% of prospects are not qualified for your product or service, you need to know how to distinguish them and find the best match for your business.

How to identify a qualified lead?

Of course, companies often create an ideal customer profile or buyer persona to help rank potential customers based on their profile, what motivates them, and pain points. But, a list of qualities your ideal customers should have might not be enough.

Sometimes a potential customer can be a perfect match for your product, but is the reverse also true for them?

Ask! Ask! Ask! Don’t just rely on the information your marketing and sales teams have collected. When you come across a promising opportunity, don’t start selling right away. Before that, take a moment to learn more about your potential customers.

To make your job easier, we’ve analyzed the most popular lead qualification methodologies such as ChAMP, ANUM, FAINT, MEDDIC, GPCTBA/C&I, and NEAT, and prepared a list of questions that will help you eliminate unqualified leads faster.

But before proceeding with the questions, let’s take a look at what these lead qualification frameworks are and how you can apply them. B2B Lead Generation: How to get the right leads

Lead qualification methodologies

ChAMP, ANUM, FAINT, MEDDIC, GPCTBA/C&I, and NEAT are methodologies created to help master and accelerate the lead qualification process. The only difference between them is the company’s value hierarchy. Depending on what comes first (like challenges, authority, funds, etc.), they will set the course for the lead qualification process. SQL vs MQL: What are the Differences between MQL and SQL

You can choose any of these methodologies based on what your company values ​​most.

For example, ChAMP’s focus is on needs and challenges, as well as their consequences. It is more customer-centric and requires potential customers to assess their pain and their role in solving them:

ANUM, on the other hand, emphasizes identifying the right decision-maker and is more focused on sales and product presentation.

The FAINT methodology values ​​the monetary aspect of the sale and seeks security. After all, before you invest time and energy in a lead, you need to make sure they have the financial capacity or resources to buy from you.

The most popular methodology for driving efficient and predictable sales growth is MEDDIC. It is more rapport-centric, values metrics, and aims for a reciprocal relationship with the lead.

The GPCTBA/C&I framework may seem confusing and more complex than previous ones. After all, there are a lot of cards. But there’s not much to confuse.

Like MEDDIC, it seeks a mutually beneficial agreement. Through the prism of negative consequences and positive implications, she focuses on the prospect’s problem-solving needs and skills.

Last but not least, NEAT is a buyer-centric methodology that deeply addresses prospect challenges. The hierarchy of values ​​in this structure is as follows: meeting customer needs, followed by calculating present and future profit for both parties.

Examples of sales qualification questions

After reviewing lead qualification methodologies and their components, we arrived at a list of sales qualification questions that fit all sales frameworks. We’ve divided it into 10 categories for easy navigation. Depending on your ideal customer profile, you can choose the questions most relevant to your needs.

Let’s delve deeper!

Challenges

These questions provide insight into potential company pain points, what makes them uncomfortable and frustrated, and how they can benefit from using your product. By emphasizing challenges, you can also identify their approach to problem-solving. Digital Prospecting: What is it and how to do it

Then ask the following:

  1. Could you share your company’s current challenges with me?
  2. How do you prioritize them? Which one has top priority?
  3. How long have you faced these challenges? Why did you decide to solve them now?
  4. Have you had similar challenges before? How did you solve them?
  5. What could be the main challenges for the next year in your company/department?
  6. How can [Your Product Name] help you overcome them?

It’s a red light when your leads can’t assess your challenges! Unless they clearly understand what pain they have and what help they need, they will not become your customers.

Also, discussing the prospect’s challenges automatically gives you the advantage to build rapport, as well as establish a good reputation for your sales department. So make sure you’re on the same page before moving on to the next category of questions.

Needs

Asking about needs makes both parties involved stay focused and sharp. Here, prospects can present you with more detailed information about how your business works and explain why they chose you. For you, it is an opportunity to assess how strong and latent the need for YOUR service is.

For example, a prospect is looking for an email finder to help him find business emails from various professional websites for a campaign he plans to run. Their product is a complete toolset that also includes an email verifier, drip campaigns software, email tracker, CRM, and other features.

With some conversation, you’ll be able to tell if he’s only interested in a one-off use of a single feature of your product, which means this partnership might not last long.

On the other hand, if your lead needs all of the toolsets you offer (or most of them), chances are high that this is a qualified lead that you will be working with for a long time. What is pre-sale? The importance of pre-sales for your company

Ask the following questions when assessing your customer’s needs :

  1. Is there a need for a [Your Product Name]?
  2. How did you hear about us?
  3. What motivated you to seek a solution now?
  4. If you’re not looking for a solution right now, why?
  5. Which features are must-haves and which are just desirable to have (must-have vs nice-to-have)?
  6. Why do you need these specific features?

We especially love focusing on “ must-have ” items versus “ nice-to-have ” ones. At this stage, if a lead shows signs that they’re qualified and shows interest in various tools, you can even suggest additional features they haven’t thought of yet and try to upsell.

Authority

Once you’ve identified your lead’s pains and needs, it’s time to identify who is responsible for saying ‘yes’ to your business (aka the company decision-maker) and act accordingly.

If your lead’s initial goal is to get answers about your service and nothing else, you may face obstacles in getting the information back. For example, if you keep asking an inappropriate person about deadlines, budget, or company goals, you could take that business in the wrong direction or even put it at risk.

Instead, understand the company’s decision-making chain to avoid future obstacles. You can do this by asking these questions:

  1. Am I making contact with the right person?
  2. What role do you play in the decision-making process?
  3. Who are the people who have the final say in decision-making?
  4. Who can help me sell my product in your company?
  5. Which departments are involved?

Even if you haven’t had the opportunity to speak to the right person, don’t worry: it’s not the end of the deal! This will provide additional information about the prospective company’s structure and decision-making process. Still, ask the lead to put you in touch with a decision-maker who can help you choose sales tactics and calculate your deadlines.

And speaking of which…

Schedule

Moving on to this category of questions indicates that you are getting to know who is in front of you. Now it’s time to discover the urgency of this prospect’s need for your service. Depending on their prioritization and need to address their pain points, you can gauge how close you are to acquiring a qualified lead or even closing a deal.

  1. How urgent is your need for [Your Product Name]?
  2. When would you like to achieve results?
  3. How long did it take your company/department to acquire a similar product?
  4. Can you share your vision of an ideal timeline?
  5. When would you like to make a decision and start implementing [Your Product Name]?

Wasting time equates to losing money, so it’s beneficial for both parties to have a deadline. First, your customer can accelerate decision-making on their own and help you shorten the sales cycle. Second, it will give you an understanding of other actions and whether or not you need to nurture that lead.

Once you’ve set a rough schedule, it’s time to move on to the financial part.

Budget/Funds

You need to clarify the current budget and past expenses that the prospect had with similar needs. Knowing where your service falls within the customer’s price range can help you assess the prospect’s financial situation and future interest in your product.

Understanding the following can help you:

  1. What is your budget for [Your Product Name]?
  2. How much did you spend on similar solutions?
  3. Have you ever needed to invest in a solution outside the original budget? If so, what was the process of allocating this resource like?
  4. What is the cost of solving your problem now? What was the initial budget for this?

Decision criteria

Now that you know that your prospect is a decision-maker and has a specific time frame and budget for their needs, you can clarify a few other things like:

  1. What are your criteria for making a purchase decision?
  2. How does your company make decisions?
  3. Have you considered solutions from other companies?

You can group this category together with Authority questions or use it separately. It all depends on the sales structure you have chosen, the dynamics of your conversation, and your ideal customer profile.

Decision process

The same goes here. Depending on your lead’s answers to the previous questions, you can add a few more (just to make sure you understand everything correctly):

  1. What is the purchase decision-making process?
  2. Who is involved in the purchase decision?
  3. What kind of obstacles might there be when making a decision?
  4. What can stop you from making a decision?

In addition, these questions help you understand how close you are to closing the deal and what the direction for your next actions is.

Goals/Plans

Recording your prospect’s needs is only half the task. In most cases, this will reveal only a part of the future of your business. The other part concerns your goals.

Sometimes your prospect’s goals can seem a little too ambitious for their business level. That’s why, to see your prospect’s level of determination and readiness, ask about their plans as well. How to prospect customers: 8 strategies to increase sales

As you know, goals are nothing without an action plan. So, to find out if the prospect has already developed methods to achieve their goals, ask the following:

  1. What are the main goals? How do you want to reach them?
  2. When would you like to reach them?
  3. How would they benefit your company?
  4. What do you want to accomplish in the near future? How are you planning to do this?
  5. What do you intend to gain from our cooperation?
  6. When do you expect to see the first results of our collaboration?

Asking your prospect about their goals brings the focus back to your services and benefits. It makes them reflect on their cooperation with a long-term perspective and helps you put yourself in the lead within or outside your field of expertise.

Negative consequences

A good sales team takes everything into consideration, just as a qualified prospect does. And that includes negative case scenarios that should be studied. Don’t be afraid to ask about unpleasant things like:

  1. What would the results be if you did nothing?
  2. What can stop our collaboration from working?
  3. What would be the consequences if you didn’t solve these problems?
  4. What would the consequences be if you didn’t overcome these challenges?
  5. Have you tried solving the challenge in the past? How successful was it? What went wrong?

By pointing out the possibilities of having unresolved issues, you create a sense of urgency, which brings the conversation back into focus and keeps it dynamic.

Positive Implications

Asking these questions is an indicator that you are on the finish line to closing the deal. But before that, you need to get answers to the following:

  1. Which metric(s) would you use to assess the success of my solution?
  2. What results will the implementation of the solution bring?
  3. What are the steps we must take to make this deal happen?
  4. Based on what we discussed, do you think our solution is right for your needs? Because?

At this stage, you can summarize your discussion, tick the qualifying box, and start planning further actions. Now it’s time to reaffirm the future collaboration and close the deal.

Obviously, the choice of which and how many questions to use above is determined by the needs and size of your business, your company values, in addition to your ideal customer profile, and your preferred sales qualification framework.

Why is lead qualification important?

First, it saves time and provides a clear plan for nurturing and converting leads. A list of sales qualification questions helps you build rapport in your sales. You need to remember that just as you have an ideal customer profile, a lead is also looking for a perfect product/service for them. So be prepared for this two-way street.

Second, it helps your sales team to notice changes in the market. Instead of endlessly asking questions, have a natural and open conversation with your prospects. This can give you more than you think in understanding the needs and values ​​of small/medium businesses.

Finally, it allows you to attract successful customers who can help create your product. If you close a deal with an unqualified customer, you could end up with a dissatisfied buyer and a potential source of negative reviews, complaints, or even a damaged reputation. But if you convert the right customer, you’ll get:

  • Upselling/ cross-selling opportunities
  • Positive reviews and a 5-star reputation
  • A loyal customer and product advocate.

The difference between these two extreme results starts with properly qualifying prospects.

In short

Oh, and one more suggestion for you!

You can link sales qualification questions to your CRM. According to Demand Metric Research Corporation, a CRM system is considered by 84% of companies to be beneficial in qualifying their leads.

With Free CRM Tool, you save time and resources in the search for lead qualification. To increase your sales and attract more qualified leads, use a buyer-centric approach when asking sales qualifying questions, and Free CRM Tool will help you track the success of your conversions.

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