How to Qualify Leads and Prospects

Success in sales requires mastery of a specialized skill set. Getting in the door, identifying leads and prospects, how to qualify leads and prospects, selling the product or service, and closing the deal. Problems anywhere along the pipeline can potentially kill the deal. But if a sales team neglects to qualify their prospects, they don’t really know if their lead has any vested interest in what they are selling, and if that is the case, valuable time will likely be wasted.

How to Qualify Leads and Prospects:

There are a two methods of how to qualify leads and prospects; the traditional approach and the digital approach. The traditional approach is hands on and requires an understanding of your customer demographics, and digital qualifying means using PPC, SEO, and social media. The most successful sales teams know that the biggest gains come from using both.

Traditional Demographic Analysis: Just like a great reporter, knowing  how to qualify leads and prospects requires the ability to answer the following questions:

Who is interested, who has an obvious (or urgent) need, who has the money to make a purchase, who is able to influence my prospects.

Where? Where do my prospects live, work, play, shop? Where can I get lists/directories of people that have passed my “Who” question.

Why? Why does my prospect need my product or service, why would there be any resistance, why my product or service is better than the competition, why I meet needs in a unique way that delivers added value.

What are the general and specific benefits?

When? When is the best time for my prospect to talk, and for how long?

Regardless of how dependent we become on the next method, a great sales person knows that doing homework the old fashioned way provides the human touch setting their product or service apart from the competition.

The Digital Approach: This how to qualify leads and prospects approach is new to the sales industry, but extremely effective when implemented correctly. First, hire an inbound marketing company with experience in webpage design, and make sure your webpage has the highest organic search rating possible. You must land high on Google, it has a 66.7% market share and is the dominant search engine today. Don’t ignore Yahoo and Bing, they have a 16.1% and 13.2% respectively, but Google is key to the widest exposure. It is absolutely critical that your webpage appears on the first landing page, and you need to be at the top of the page in the Golden Triangle. Research shows that the top 3 webpages on the first landing page of any search engine have a 100% capture rating when measured with eyemapping technology. Once out of the top 3 the capture rate drops dramatically, and if your webpage does not appear on the first landing page your chances of exposure drop to lass than 10%. Mantra for digital success: Use Google, be on the first landing page, and be in the top three!

Use social media: This is the biggest breakout of the 21st century- 57% of companies have a blog page, and over 70% of all marketing professionals say that they get qualified leads from blogs. Also; don’t forget LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

What makes digital qualifying so important? Using PPC and SEO methods means that the person who clicks to your website has already done the work of pre-qualifying themselves. They have most likely provided an email, but they have definitely expressed interest- they reached out to you with their visit!

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Tambako the Jaguar.

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