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How Do You Qualify a Sales Lead?

How Do You Qualify a Sales Lead?

Your sales strategy won’t be very effective if you try to sell to everyone who crosses your path. Your time is much better spent trying to sell only to those who are likely to buy.

“I think the reason people hate selling so much is because they try to sell anything to everybody,” says Ivana Taylor of DIY Marketers. “This mindset is what leaves you feeling like you are pushing yourself on someone who doesn’t want or need what you have to offer. Qualifying your leads or potential customers will make sales a joy because you shift from being a pushy salesperson to being someone who HELPS people solve problems.”

Qualifying leads basically means evaluating the people who come into your sales pipeline. Some people will have many of the qualities of your target customers, and others won’t. The ones who do are the ones who you should focus your efforts on.

Steps to Qualify a Sales Lead

Now that you know the benefits of qualifying leads, here’s how to do it.

1. Research Your Customer

If you want to know what qualities to look for in future customers, it helps to look at your current ones. The people who have bought from you already are likely to have a few things in common. Maybe they’re all in a particular industry. Maybe they all tend to use Twitter. Maybe they all have kids.

Surveying your customers or doing other types of market research can help you identify trends you might not even have realized. When you know what qualities people have that impact their decision to buy from you, it can help you better understand what to look for when qualifying future leads.

2. Create a Customer Persona

With that information in mind, it’s time to create the profile of your ideal customer. Think about what questions you would ask to find out if someone is a good fit.

Taylor says, “To develop your list of qualifying questions, make a list of characteristics or attributes of your ideal customer.  You can also list the top three problems that your product or service solves for your ideal customer.”

If your product is meant to help busy moms save time by creating personalized meal plans, then you don’t want to spend time selling to those who already have their meal planning under control. So think about the problem people must have in order to really benefit from your product. Then center your questions or qualities around that.

3. Don’t Forget the Basics

But qualifying leads isn’t just about solving problems. You might be able to solve someone’s problem very effectively. But if you’re a local business in Connecticut and they live in California, then connecting won’t do either of you any good.

So when qualifying leads, don’t forget about the base line things that people need in order to potentially buy from you. These can include things like:

  • Zip Code
  • Job Title
  • Industry
  • Budget
  • Demographic Data

Combine those with the more complex issues you determined in step 2. Then you have a full list of qualities to look for in a potential customer. It might be important for people to check every box. Or you might just need them to check more than half of them. It all depends on your business.

One last point: Don’t make your qualifications too broad. For example, if you provide consulting services, you may not want to offer them for all businesses. Perhaps, provide them more specifically for online business owners, ecommerce business owners —  or even online merchants selling on Amazon. The more specific your description of your ideal customer the better, since this will help you identify the prospects you are most able to help.

Next Steps:

1. Send out a survey to your list. Include questions designed to help you learn why customers have decided to buy from you.

2. Identify your market. Think about the problems that your product or service helps to solve and what people with that particular problem have in common.

3. Create a profile. Using this information, create a list of basic characteristics you are looking for in an ideal customer.


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