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Do your reps faithfully follow up on the leads you generate? If you’re like most marketers, the sad answer is likely a “no.” Why do I say that? Because research shows that salespeople pass over 80% of marketing leads.

You can overcome this with a carrot, not a stick. In other words, you won’t get far by berating salespeople for their lack of follow-up. Instead, it’s better to provide leads they can’t wait to chase down.

Sounds good, you say, but how?

Well, you’ve heard it before, salespeople want leads that have the money and the authority to make a purchase, are looking for a solution to the problem that your product or service solves, and want to take action within the foreseeable future.

But how do you ferret out leads that meet these criteria? It’s not as simple as directly asking someone, for instance, “Do you have the budget to buy this product?”
Here’s a guide to questions you can ask that will help you find the leads your reps will love.

Where’s the Pain?

Your first job is to find out how you can help in relieving someone’s pain. To do so, ask these questions:

    1. What are the biggest challenges you’re facing today?
    2. What will happen if you’re unable to address these problems?
    3. How are you coping with these issues now?
    4. Do you see any significant shifts in your business over the next couple of years?

The answers to these questions help you to uncover what your lead is dealing with on a day-to-day basis. They give you the big picture, which enables you to understand better how your product or solution might fit into it.

Would Our Solution Be a Good Fit?

The following questions will help you discover whether your solution is a good fit to solve the individual’s problems.

    1. What would you like to be able to achieve with the ideal solution?
    2. What is essential to you in a solution?
    3. What would you like to have in a solution?
    4. Are you using any products or solutions today to address the challenge?
    5. If so, what are you using?
    6. What do you like and dislike about it?
    7. What other products and solutions have you explored?
    8. So far, what do you like and dislike about the options you’ve reviewed?

Could You Allocate Budget Dollars to It?

Many business people want to solve problems. However, their resources are limited. If they don’t have the budget for it or cannot reallocate the money from some other bucket, sales will be wasting their time. Make sure this doesn’t happen by asking:

    1. How much do you think this issue currently costs your company?

This question sets the framework for a discussion about the budget. For instance, if the lack of a marketing automation system costs the company thousands of dollars in lost sales, they are more likely to want to invest in it.

    1. Is there a budget allocated to this project?
    2. What are the budget parameters? (Ask this if question 14’s response is “yes.”)
    3. This problem currently costs your company $X (the amount they answered in question 13) a year. Given that, how much could you see allocating to solve it? (Ask this if question 14’s response is “no.”)
    4. Our solution ranges from $X to $Y. Does that sound affordable?
    5. Who would authorize an expense like this?

Who Makes the Decision?

Business decisions are complex, often with multiple players involved all with different perspectives and roles in what they ultimately choose to purchase. You need to know what part the individual you’re talking with plays and who else participates on the buying team. This knowledge helps you to plan your account strategy. Dig for it with these queries:

    1. How will your company assess a solution to this problem?
    2. Who else within your business is affected by this issue?
    3. What role do they play in deciding on a solution?
    4. Should I reach out to (people on the buying team) to learn more about their concerns and objectives?
    5. Who will make the final decision? (Ask this question if the previous ones have not revealed the answer.)

Is There Urgency to Move Forward?

Despite wanting to solve a problem and having the money to do so, it still may not be at the top of the priority list. You want to know where it falls on the to-do list before you have a sales rep spinning their wheels. So ask:

    1. When would you like to have this problem resolved?
    2. How important is this issue vs. others that you’re juggling?

Are You Interested In What We Have to Offer?

Assuming you’ve provided the lead with the value proposition for your product or solution, you then want to gauge their interest and establish the next steps.

  1. Would you be interested in scheduling a “demo” to learn more about how the XYZ solution can help you? (You can substitute the next step in your sales process for “demo.”)
  2. Would next Wednesday at 2 pm be convenient for you?

In the end, ensuring your salespeople will love the leads you produce will make your job easier. Once they understand that every lead has a high potential to turn into a sale, they will be eager to follow up and convert them into customers. A full vetting of leads ensures they are qualified, so all your reps have to do is work their magic and bring home the sale.

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