Sales roles are all about about taking decisions based on the available information and gut feel. A lead qualification can help you to get the right information that will help you to make meaningful decisions.
Sample Case: John works in the PreSales department in ABC Technologies. Sales/BD team has handed over a lead/RFP to John on a web platform enhancement. Since the deadline was a week away, John started working on it. Got on a call and cleared few queries. Also coordinated with technical team to get the estimates, deliverables and timelines in place. He also worked in parallel to create an elaborate proposal/response document for the lead/RFP. Later he consolidated all information and submitted to client. After submission, John tried to reach them over phone, the response was its under evaluation. He waited for 1 week, 2 week and a month. Still the same response. Later on getting in touch with an inside connect in the organization, John realized that they have floated the requirement to taste the waters and now they have kept it aside as the budget is too high and it was not an urgent one. John felt disappointed as he spend almost 5 days for preparing the response and all the efforts went vein. And now he is answerable to others for their efforts.
For anyone who works in Sales/BD/Presales, this couldn't be new. How could have John avoided this situation?
The answer is through proper lead qualification. Yes a lead qualification help us to understand the client, urgency, budget, timelines, decision making process, procurement process etc. This will give necessary intell to you for deciding whether to pursue the lead or not. Rather, it helps you to make informed decisions, rather than going for a wild guess. Let's try to understand it in detail from a sales/BD/Presales perspective.
What is lead qualification?
In simple terms, it's a process by which we collect information from client/customer and third party sources to evaluate the probability of getting the lead converted.
Why to do a lead qualification?
- It will help you to save time and utilize it for growth of your organization.
- It will help you to understand your prospect and opportunity better.
- It can increase your chances of winnability as you are more informed than earlier.
- It will help to cut costs on unproductive activities related to opportunity management
- It will improve your confidence. More Wins = More Confidence
When to do lead qualification?
The answer will be, this should be your first steps towards processing a lead. It will help us to build confidence to decide whether to invest time and efforts on a lead or not.
How can we qualify leads?
There are multiple ways in which we can do it. This includes getting on a call with them, sharing questionnaires, evaluating data on third party platforms etc. But in ideal case, it should be a mix of all.
Getting into detail....
Here is a checklist of activities you can include to qualify a lead.
Background Evaluation: Like you select a good candidate to your workforce you should carefully evaluate the background of the lead. This include
Source of Lead : Is it from your website, social media, procurement platforms, through connections, listed in public platforms etc.
About the organization: Are they new or been there for a long time, are they in a financially good position, are they having a good reputation, their industry associations, team strength etc.
About the Key Contact: Is he/she a decision maker, is he/she connected directly to the organization, is he/she having necessary experience to evaluate the opportunity, who are they connected to(this will also answer your competition) etc.
Opportunity Evaluation: This will help us to understand how serious are they with the opportunity.
Key Requirement Description: Have they clearly outlined what they required, is there any mention about next action points, etc.
Solution Description: Have they mentioned about any expected solutions or platforms they would love to have or familiar with. Is there a mention about team technical capabilities, etc.
Timelines: Are there mention of clear timelines. What should happen when. Eg: deadline for questions. deadline for proposal, expected project start date etc.
Procurement Process: Is there a mention about procurement process and scoring criteria, how should be response be, etc.
Vendor Requirements: Have they outlined about vendor qualifications required, are there any specific technical, geography, or certification requirements etc.
Competition: Is there any mention about incumbent vendors or list of vendors to which the requirement is shared.
Budget: Is there a mention of budget or a range or details of similar projects done earlier.
Guarantee & Exclusivity: Is there a mention about a bank/performance guarantee or exclusivity terms.
Matching and Scoring: Based on the data/information we have, we have to score/match them to get an idea whether we can go with it or not. It's good to involve multiple persons for this discussion as it will help us to have different views on a problem.
Competency/Qualification Match: Are we technically, functionally and financially competent to pursue this? Do we have any credential to prove this?
Solution Match: Will you be able to deliver the technical solution they require? Are you familiar with it? If you don't have currently, will you be able to acquire them soon?
Timeline Match: Do you have sufficient time to take this up or will you be able to deliver the response in the time they require? Will our bandwidth allow that?
Competition: Do you see any competition here? Are you superior than competitors? Will you have any competitive edge in this opportunity?
Budget Match: On a high level, will you able to serve them in the numbers they have mentioned? What is the degree of variation you expect and will you able to justify/substantiate it?
Connection: Are we connected to any of the decision makers in that organization?
Procurement: Are we okay with the procurement process?
Future scope: Will this opportunity be beneficial for you in any form in future?
How to get these information?
Well its quite easy, but you should have some patience. Here are some methords you can use
Having a call with lead/prospect
Going through their social media properties
Visiting their website and blog
Checking LinkedIn profiles of key decision makers and people who are connected to them. Initiating conversions/seeking introductions if required.
Checking mentions about prospect in Google News or similar platforms
Checking about opportunity listings done by them earlier. This may be available in many public portals. it will give a fare understanding of frequency, budget etc.
Visiting platforms like Zoominfo to understand about their financial strength
Checking information about them in industry/trade platforms they are associated with it.
Read e-books published by them.
Lastly, the most important one. If a public company, read the annual report. It will be a goldmine of information.
Now you may be thinking, is it worth doing all of these to evaluate an opportunity. Believe me, if you can practice it, its quite simple and will help you to utilize your time efficiently.
All the best. If you would love to discuss more on this, write to [email protected] or reach me at +91 9496 362209