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Answer These Eight Questions To Identify and Qualify SQLs Blog Feature
Lee Stouch

By: Lee Stouch on August 20th, 2018

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Answer These Eight Questions To Identify and Qualify SQLs

Marketing | Sales | Offline Marketing | Online Marketing | Direct Mail

It can be difficult to determine when a lead is ready to be handed over from the marketing team to the sales team in order to close the sale. There are no black and white distinctions that make it clear that a lead is a sales qualified lead (SQL), and this subjectivity can drive inter-team conflict and waste valuable resources.

You need to transition the lead in order to drive revenue, but premature qualification can stunt your sales efforts by wasting your reps' time and potentially driving off the lead. In order to keep both teams happy and to transition the lead at the right time, it is important to establish some sort of objective standards to identify and qualify your leads.

Identify Potential SQLs:

Before getting into the details of defining a SQL, it’s important to look at some basics to see if the lead has any potential to qualify.

1) Do They Have A Budget?

There is no point in putting effort into selling to a lead if they cannot afford your product. Determine whether or not the lead is likely to have a budget before moving on to more specific qualification. If your marketing team has gotten any data from the lead, now is the time to put it to use. If not, a cursory examination of funding and revenue information can be sufficient to exclude many potential SQLs, particularly startups.

2) Are They A Decision Maker?

Different stakeholders in an organization have different roles in the sales pipeline. The people who are responsible for using or implementing your product or service are often not the people who are responsible for purchasing decisions. Depending on who you have reached within the organization, the lead might or might not ready to be passed on to the sales team.

3) Is This The Right Time To Be Looking At The Lead?

Timing for qualifying an SQL is determined by two factors: the lead's ability or willingness to purchase the product and your ability to sell it. The likelihood of the lead converting is largely dependent on the fiscal year and recent developments within the lead organization. Even if the timing is right for the lead, however, your sales team might have too many existing leads, or your organization may not be ready to scale to accommodate the new lead.

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Qualify the Leads:

Once you've established the lead's potential, there are several questions that you still need to answer in order to determine whether the lead is indeed sales-qualified.

1) Is The Initiative A High Priority For the Lead?

Companies do not invest resources lightly. It may not be worth your sales team's time pitching a company who sees your service as low-priority. If this is the case, let your marketing team convince them of the necessity of your product before qualifying the lead.

2) Is Their Budget Specific To The Services Discussed?

Even when a company can afford your services, its resources may be allocated elsewhere. Once you have established the lead's overall financial health, it's time to make sure that the specific departments or stakeholders have the budget to afford your product. Also, make sure that the budget covers the range of services that the lead is interested in: just because they can afford some level of service does not mean that they can afford the package that the marketing team offered them to move down the funnel.

3) What Obstacles Are In The Way Of Closing The Sale And Starting The Project?

It is very important to consider everything that could jeopardize the sale or project launch. The lead could have to implement other products, or abandon rival services, in order for you to complete the sale and other stakeholders in their organization could object to the project. Plan for these eventualities, and if the odds seem too stacked against your sales team, it's not time to qualify the lead.

4) Is There Anyone Else Who Needs To Be A Part Of The Conversation?

There may be other stakeholders who need to buy into the service or whose objections will need to be overridden in order for your sales team to close the deal. If that prospect seems manageable for your sales team to handle, then the additional stakeholders should not prevent the qualification of the lead. If not, then your marketing team should work to bring those stakeholders onboard before passing the lead off to the sales team.

5) What Is The Timing For Closing The Sale And Starting The Project?

Even if the timing seemed right in the identification phase, the length of the sales and on-boarding process can change that. Consider how long it will take to close the sale and the ramp-up time to start the project. If the timing still makes sense, then go ahead and qualify the lead. If not, let the marketing team maintain the lead until the timing is right.

Identifying and qualifying SQLs is not an exact science. However, you do not have to rely on instinct alone, nor should you. If you take the time to answer each of these eight questions about a lead, it should become clear whether or not they are an SQL.


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