An effective lead qualification team can charge through a high quantity of leads in a short amount of time, and they can still gather crucial insights while doing so. To separate the high quality leads from the ones that are highly unlikely to buy assess every lead on five important criteria.

What problems does your prospect face? Customers spend money on products and services they need to address their problems. Prospects fall into three categories:

  • Those that know their problem and the type of solution they need to fix it.
  • Those that know their problem, but have not explored solutions.
  • Those that are unaware they have a problem.

If your prospect knows what they need, ask if they’re working with any solution providers to solve it. Find out which ones so you can prepare for a competitive battle. Sometimes, a prospect may not realize his/her problem. In such a case, you may need to be creative and open their eyes to the problem. Study your prospects’ business and industry so you know the types of problems they run into, and can prepare your pitch to strike a cord. Confront your prospect with the problem, and then tell them how your solution will fix it.

Do you have a solution that addresses the prospect’s problem? Don’t force a fit where there isn’t one. A prospect may not be a fit now, but things can change in time, so keep them in your queue until that day, but don’t waste your time selling to the wrong titles, industries, company sizes, etc.

Are you dealing with the decision maker and budget holder? If not, how can you get connected to that individual. Your prospect may have a problem that your solution addresses perfectly, but you won’t get very far talking to a lower level employee with little influence on the business. Your prospect may have an important problem that your solution can fix, but if that problem is not a company priority, your prospect will not have the power to sign a contract.

Once you find out who controls the budget, find out how big it is. Determine the size of the deal and the cost associated with it, and make sure your customer can pay for it before committing to an opportunity. You don’t want to find out that your prospect’s budget for the next 3 quarters is already set in stone after you’ve spent a month selling to them. Also follow news events that affect your prospect’s business and industry. Have they recently received funding that has opened their budget? Has their lack of funds forced them to freeze all new hiring? Assess your prospect’s budget as it appears on the outside before moving in to close a deal.

Is your prospect ready to buy? When will the necessary budget be available? A prospect’s relationship to their problem is a good indicator of their timing.

  • Those that know their problem and the type of solution they need to fix it. Prospects that are looking for a specific solution have probably already encountered your competitors. While a prospect that understands the need for your offerings makes for an easier sale on your end, you may end up in a price war with a competitor, or losing interest from a prospect that cares more about how your features compare to a competitor’s than how your products or services will solve their problem.
  • Those that know their problem, but have not explored solutions. These are ideal prospects. They want change, and are open to suggestions. If you can find these prospects before your competitors, you have the chance to earn the respect that comes with being the first to offer them a fix for their problems.
  • Those that are unaware they have a problem. Prospects that are happy with the status quo are unlikely to change their minds, but you can target them with marketing campaigns that change their mind, or position you as a solution when they do encounter problems.

No one element of deal assessment will guarantee a win. Your prospect may be the decision maker, and may hold ample budget that he or she needs to spend within the quarter, but may have a more pressing problem that pushes your solution to a marginal need. Rank leads based on the equivalent of all 5 assessment criteria, and your lead qualification process will quickly and effectively separate the real opportunities from the ones that will inevitably get postponed.