Setting Up Lead Qualifications


What is Lead Qualification?


c In short, it is the process of filtering through thousands of opportunities to find the best ones is called lead qualification.


As an example let us look at the hiring process. The task of an employer in hiring is to narrow a large pool of job applicants to a select number of leading candidates. This selected group of candidates is more likely to provide your company with a good return on investment. The hiring process is similar to lead qualification where a salesperson’s job is to prioritize a group of potential customers based on their chances of conversion, and qualified leads are the potential customers that are most likely to convert. Thus, lead qualification is a way to ensure your company’s time, energy, and resources are channeled into a worthwhile opportunity.


Criteria for Lead Qualification

Lead qualification criteria are characteristics that help to classify a lead by the degree of its willingness and readiness to buy your products or service.



After this qualification, you can distinguish leads with the most and least potential in terms of making a purchase. The leads with the most potential will fall into the qualified leads category and they are ready to move into your sales process. The leads with lesser potential will fall into the non-qualified leads category, they will be added to your nurture campaign cycle.


Every company will have a different definition of a qualified lead, but lead qualification should always follow these five basic criteria :


  1. Determine the buyer’s needs - The buyer’s need for a certain product or service is the main criterion of qualification. You should identify the lead’s needs and what challenges he or she is trying to solve. If the lead doesn’t have a need currently and he or she is just trying to grab your company’s information then there is no reason to qualify such leads.
  2. Determine if your solution is the right fit - Once you understand your customer's current needs and foresee future ones, it’s time for you to consider which product or service you offer is the right solution. If your company offers the products or services that match your lead’s needs then you would want to identify the appropriate sales team member to initiate follow-up calls.
  3. Know the lead’s budget - Not every lead that you encounter is going to be able to afford your best product. When conducting lead qualification, you need to find out how much the lead is able or willing to invest in your solution. The lead’s budget gives your sales team a starting point from which they can prepare further proposals. You could disqualify a lead completely if they simply don’t have the funds to spend on your products.
  4. Identify the prospect's influence level - The leads you generate will include various levels of management and influence level. It is important to know whether your lead is an end-user of the product, an influencer, or a decision-maker. If a lead doesn’t have the authority to make purchasing decisions or has no influence in the decision-making process then there is no need for your sales team to spend time trying to close that lead.
  5. Understand the lead’s timeline - Understanding your lead’s purchase timeframe will help your sales team prioritize where they need to put their efforts and help them determine which leads to address first. If a prospect needs to purchase within three months, that sale should receive immediate focus, compared to a prospect considering options for a purchase they plan to make next year. It’s better to send them some helpful resources and then follow up closer to when they’ll be making a decision.


Marketing Qualified Leads

A marketing qualified lead (MQL) is a member of your audience who has engaged with your business in the right ways to suggest they’re likely to become the right fit to become a customer. MQLs are promising leads who are considering you, but they haven’t quite made the step into a sales conversation yet. However, they’re more likely to become your customer than other leads.


An MQL is someone who takes you up on an offer by downloading an e-book or case study, joining a webinar, etc. He or she has shown another level of interest beyond just sharing an email address. Depending on your product and business, you may continue marketing to this lead with more information about your company, or you may jump to offers that would push this person along to becoming a Sales Qualified Lead. Example offers would be free product trials, consultations, or anything else that would allow them direct access to the product. If the MQL accepts the offer, then, and only then, would you pass him or her on to sales.



An MQL has taken the first steps to become a customer and is primed to receive additional contact. From a general perspective: Marketing Qualified Leads turn into Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs), which later turn into customers.


How To Find The Best Marketing Qualified Leads?


The better you are at identifying marketing qualified leads from your pool of normal leads, the more relevant changes you can make to your marketing strategy to convert them. Here are some tactics that will help you find the best MQLs:


  1. Examine historical behavior - Probably the best place to look for behavioral factors is your current customers, so you should analyze the pre-purchase behavior of your current customers. Also, examine how sales have gone in the past and the path they took from reaching out with interest to confirming the sale.
  2. Get customer feedback - Get feedback from potential leads who back out and find out whether they are put off by anything in particular that you could change.
  3. Look for trends - Look for the attributes that your success leads have in common, and find out the pages, offers, and ads convert the highest quality MQLs. This can tell you what you are doing right and helps you focus on exactly what is working for your company's sales.





Marketing Qualified Leads


Sales Qualified Leads



A marketing qualified lead is a member of your audience who has engaged with your business in the right ways to suggest they’re likely to become the right fit to become a customer.

A sales-qualified lead is a prospective customer that is ready to talk to a sales team. This lead has expressed enough interest in your product or service, that they're ready to move into your sales process.

Position In The Sales Funnel

MQL is positioned closer to the top of the sales funnel, involved in the awareness and interest stages.

SQL is positioned closer to the bottom of the sales funnel, involved in the decision and action stages.

How Are They Tracked

MQL is tracked by looking at specific behaviors or levels of engagement, such as website visits, content offer downloads, or filling up your website form and providing their phone number, pain points, etc.

SQL is tracked by looking at the high amount of interest in your product, such as visiting your website multiple times, downloading your latest whitepaper, requesting quotes, requesting purchase information, or requesting a live demo session.

Who You Can Help

MQLs may not be ready to be contacted directly by a sales rep, and you’re better off providing them with additional marketing assistance instead.

SQL has already shown intent to buy and is ready to be contacted by a sales rep right away. The faster you do follow these leads, the more likely you are to close them.


A company makes an improved to-do list management system, a brand new way to get all the things done faster, with integration in all aspects of life. A prospective customer comes across an article on your blog via a search. He or she likes your productivity life hacks and decides they want more. They sign up for your email list. Now that they’re on the list, a triggered email is sent with more information about some case studies showing how past customers have used your product. The prospective customer downloads the case studies. They’re now an MQL.

Continuing the same company’s example, once you have an MQL that has taken pointed action to learn more about your business and the solutions you offer, then you offer the MQL some time to digest the case studies. You then follow up with another triggered email offering a 2-week free trial. The MQL is flattered and excited and initiates its free trial immediately. They are now an SQL, ready to receive messaging that encourages them to pull the trigger to buy.


Need For Qualifications

According to research, 25 percent of leads are legitimate and should advance to sales, but 79 percent of marketing leads never convert. Also, 73 percent of leads are not sales-ready, and 50 percent are qualified but not yet ready to buy. This statistic proves that lead qualification is essential if you want to grow revenue. Consider the following reasons why qualifying leads is critical to successful sales:


Saves You Time

Lead qualification saves countless low-productivity hours. It’s crucial to qualify your leads appropriately to avoid losing time on dead-end leads or businesses outside your target parameters. Without qualification, reps will end up working on poorly qualified leads while other better opportunities are agonizingly lost to competitors. When too many leads are thrown at sales reps, they can become quickly overwhelmed and find it increasingly difficult to determine which leads to follow up on. This is when qualification helps the sales rep understand which leads to follow for better sales.


Provides Personalization

Research states that qualifying leads deliver 50 percent more sales-ready discussions and 20 percent more sales opportunities at lower costs of up to 33 percent. Qualification solutions provide organizations with more sales due to the prospect’s personalized engagement. Qualification ensures your team is communicating with an individual prospect to deliver customized content and offers based on unique needs, and that they are likely to resonate with. Ultimately, this helps move leads through the funnel toward the final purchase.


Higher Return On Investment

Lead qualification saves time plus provides better quality leads resulting in a higher return on time invested. It is important to remember that even the perfect lead qualification process won’t guarantee you an increase in ROI. The efficiency following from lead qualification would increase ROI only when you and your team finish the job and seal those deals successfully.

All in all, lead qualification helps you to identify whether or not you’re talking to a person that has any real intent in buying what you’re selling. Without it, you could waste time talking to people who will never close. Hence use the lead qualification to find more of the best leads faster, saving precious time to focus on the things that matter.


How Do You Qualify A Lead


Collect Lead Data

The first step in the lead qualification process starts with the collection of data for all the leads. This data collection can be either implicit or explicit. Implicit data is the lead data you collected from your forms, for example, you ask the lead about their position or company size in an eBook download form. Explicit data is the data you gathered from existing databases or some prospecting tools, for example, if you have the lead’s full name and company email address, you can find out their position and company size through LinkedIn or prospecting tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator.


Another way of collecting data is Progressive Profiling, in this method you start by asking for fewer amounts of data, and then you gradually ask leads for more data as they go through the sales process. As the lead consumes more content and starts trusting you more, you can ask for more relevant data such as position, company size, and even budget. This way you can also use personalization and small forms to improve your conversion rates.


Score Leads

Lead scoring is a process for quantifying the sales readiness of all your leads, each lead is assigned a score based on its past actions, demographics, and firmographics. Lead scoring is a way to turn your collected data into actionable insight into your lead qualification. It involves assigning a score to every action your lead takes, such as clicking on a link in an email that might be worth +3 points, or downloading an eBook that might be +6 points, and so on. After scoring, you should decide a particular score threshold based on which you would either send the lead to sales or nurture or disqualify the lead. Here is an example of how you can score your leads :


Segment Leads


The last part of the lead qualification process is to create segments based on lead scores assigned in the previous step. You would segment leads into three broad categories :


  • Hot leads - They are active, sales-ready leads and should be passed on to sales. These hot leads are in the 80th percentile of your lead scores.
  • Warm leads - They are the leads that are engaging with your offer but aren’t ready to buy yet. These leads require to be nurtured further.
  • Cold leads - They are the uninterested leads. You can either disqualify the cold leads or nurture the most active among them.


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