79% of marketing leads never convert into sales. It leaves you with a frustrating reality of a tiny lead pool with less than a quarter of sales opportunities for your business.
On top of it, 61% of B2B marketers send all leads directly to sales, which is even more aggravating for sales teams because they have to spend lots of hours looking for that small percentage of leads that can be qualified. Let’s be honest, there’s already too much on their plate.
These stats reveal poor management of the lead qualification process, which your team can prevent. So stop asking questions like who is a qualified prospect and who is an imposter? Start asking the right ones!
What is sales qualification?
Sales qualification is the process of assessing leads and prospects to understand whether they can be a good fit for your product or service. To put it simply, it determines if the lead has the potential to move to the bottom of the sales funnel and become your paying customer.
Knowing exactly which position lead acquires in your sales funnel saves your time and makes cooperation much easier and faster.
And since more than 70% of your prospects will be unqualified for your product or service, you need to know how to distinguish them and find the best match for your business.
How to identify a qualified lead?
Of course, companies usually create an ideal customer profile or a buyer persona to help sort prospects out based on their profile, motivators, and pain points. But a list of qualities your ideal clients should have might not be enough.
Sometimes a prospect can be a perfect match for your product, but will it be the same for them?
Ask! Ask! Ask! Don’t rely solely on the information your marketing and sales teams gathered. When you find a promising prospect, don’t start sales pitching right away but take a moment and learn more about your potential customers.
To make your job easier, we’ve looked through the most popular lead qualification methodologies like ChAMP, ANUM, FAINT, MEDDIC, GPCTBA/C&I, and NEAT and prepared a list of questions that will help you eliminate unqualified leads faster.
But before proceeding to the qualifying questions for sales, let’s take a look at what these lead qualification frameworks are and how you can apply them.
Lead qualification methodologies
ChAMP, ANUM, FAINT, MEDDIC, GPCTBA/C&I, and NEAT were all created to help master and speed up the lead qualification process. The only difference among these methodologies is the company’s value hierarchy. Depending on which thing goes first, like challenges, authority, funds, etc., it sets the course of the lead qualification process.
You can choose any of these methodologies based on what your business values the most.
For example, ChAMP’s focus falls on needs and challenges as their aftermath. It’s more client-centric and requires prospects to evaluate their pain points and your role in solving them:
ANUM, on the other hand, emphasizes identifying the right decision-maker, is more sales-centered, and puts the product forward.
FAINT methodology values the monetary aspect of the sales deal most and seeks security. After all, before investing time and energy into a lead, you need to ensure they have the financial capacity or funds to buy from you.
The most popular methodology to drive efficient and predictable sales growth is MEDDIC. It’s more rapport-centered, values metrics, and aims at a reciprocal relationship with a lead.
The GPCTBA/C&I framework might look confusing and more complex than the previous ones at first. After all, that’s a lot of letters. But there’s not much to be confused about.
Just like MEDDIC, it seeks a beneficial deal for both parties. Through the prism of negative consequences and positive implications, it focuses on the prospect’s problem-solving abilities and needs.
Last but not least, N.E.A.T is a buyer-centric methodology that goes deeply into the prospect’s challenges. The hierarchy of values in this framework is the following — fulfillment of customer’s needs, followed by the calculation of the present and future profit for both parties.
Sales qualifying questions examples
After analyzing lead qualification methodologies and their components, we’ve come up with a list of qualifying questions for sales that fit every sales framework. We’ve divided it into 10 categories for navigation ease. Depending on your ideal customer profile, you can choose the most relevant questions for your needs.
Let’s dig in!
These qualifying questions for sales give you an insight into the prospect company’s pain points, what makes them feel uncomfortable and frustrated, and how they can benefit from using your product. By illuminating challenges, you can also spot their approach to problem-solving.
So, inquire the following:
1. Could you share with me your company’s current challenges?
2. How do you prioritize them? Which one is the top priority?
3. How long have you been facing these challenges? Why have you decided to solve them now?
4. Did you have similar challenges before? How did you solve them?
5. What might be the main challenges for the upcoming year for your company/department?
6. How can [Name of your product] help you overcome them?
It’s a red flag when your leads can’t assess their challenges! Unless they understand clearly what pain points they have and what help they need, they won’t become your customers.
Besides, discussing the prospect’s challenges automatically gives you leverage in making a rapport and establishing a good reputation for your sales department. So make sure you’re both on the same page so you can move to the next question category.
Asking about needs makes both parties involved stay focused and sharp. Here, prospects can present you with more detailed information about their business course and explain why they chose you. For you, it’s an opportunity to evaluate how strong their need for YOUR service is.
For example, a potential prospect is looking for an email finder tool to help them find business emails from various professional websites for one email campaign they’re planning to send. Your product is an all-in-one toolset that also includes an email verifier, drip campaign software, email tracker, CRM, and other features.
You can tell right away they’re interested in a limited-time use of one of the features your product has, which means your cooperation might not last long.
On the other hand, if your lead needs the whole toolset or most of the features you offer, chances are high it’s your qualified lead you’ll be working with for a long time.
Ask the following questions while assessing your client’s needs:
7. Is there a need for [Name of your product]?
8. How did you hear about us?
9. What motivated you to search for a solution now?
10. If you’re not currently searching for a solution, why not?
11. Which features do you need as a must-have vs. nice-to-have?
12. Why do you need these particular features?
We especially love focusing on must-haves vs. nice-to-haves. At this stage, if a prospect shows signs of a qualified lead and expresses interest in several tools, you can even suggest additional features they haven’t thought about and attempt upselling.
After you’ve singled out your lead’s pain points and needs, it’s time to identify who will say ‘yes’ to your deal (aka a decision-maker in the company) and then act accordingly.
If your lead’s initial goal is to get answers about your service and nothing more, you might face obstacles in getting information back. For example, if you continue asking an incompetent person about timelines, budget, or company goals, it might lead your deal in the wrong direction or even put it at risk.
Instead, clarify the decision-making chain to avoid future hurdles. You can do it by asking these qualifying questions for sales:
13. Am I contacting the right person?
14. What role do you play in the decision-making process?
15. Who are the people who have the final say in making a decision?
16. Who can help me sell my product within your company?
17. Which departments are involved?
Even if you haven’t had a chance to talk to the right person, don’t worry, it’s not the end of the deal! It gives you additional insight into the prospect’s company structure and decision-making process. Still, ask the lead to put you in contact with a decision-maker who can help you choose sales tactics and calculate your timelines.
Moving to this question category signals that you’re beginning to see who’s in front of you. Now it’s time to work out the urgency of the prospect’s need for your service. Depending on their eagerness to solve their pain points, you can assess how close you are to acquiring a qualified lead or even closing a deal.
18. How urgent is your need for [Name of your product]?
19. When would you like to achieve the results?
20. How much time did it take your company/department to purchase a similar product?
21. Can you share your vision of your ideal timeline?
22. When would you like to make a decision and start implementing [Name of your product]?
Losing time equals losing money, so it’s beneficial for both parties to have a deadline. First, your client might fast-track making a decision by themselves and help you shorten the sales cycle. Second, it gives you an understanding of further actions and whether a prospect needs additional nurturing.
After you’ve sorted out an approximate timeline, it’s time to move to the financial part.
You need to shed light on the current budget and the previous expenses a prospect has borne on similar needs. Knowing where your service falls in the client’s price range can help you evaluate the prospect’s financial abilities and future interest in your product.
Clarifying the following might help you:
23. What is the budget/funds for [Name of your product]?
24. How much have you spent on similar solutions?
25. Have you ever needed to invest in a solution outside the original budget? If so, what was the budget allocation process like?
26. What is the cost of solving your pain point now? What was the initial budget for it?
Now that you know your prospect is a decision-maker, has a specific timeframe and budget for their needs, you can clear up some other things like:
27. What are your criteria for making a purchase decision?
28. How does your company make decisions?
29. Have you considered solutions by other companies?
You can either group this category together with the Authority questions or use it as a separate one. It all depends on the sales framework you’ve chosen, the dynamic of your conversation, and your ideal customer profile.
The same goes here. Depending on your lead’s answers to the previous questions, you can throw in a couple of additional ones (just to double-check that you understood everything correctly):
30. What is the process of making a purchase decision?
31. Who is involved in making a purchase decision?
32. What kind of obstacles might there be while making a decision?
33. What can prevent you from making a decision?
Also, these questions help you understand how close you are to concluding the deal and what the course of the further actions is.
Registering your prospect’s needs is only half of the task. In most cases, it reveals one side of their business development. The other one hides in goals.
Sometimes your prospect’s goals might seem a bit too ambitious for their business level. That’s why to see the level of determination and readiness of your prospect, ask them about their plans, too.
As you know, goals are nothing without a plan of action. To find out if the prospect has already worked out methods for achieving their goals, inquire the following:
34. What are the main goals? How do you want to achieve them?
35. When would you like to achieve them?
36. How would they benefit your company?
37. What do you want to accomplish in the near future? How are you planning to do it?
38. What do you plan to gain from our cooperation?
39. When do you expect to see the first results from our collaboration?
Asking your prospect about their goals brings the focus back to your services and benefits. It makes them reflect on your cooperation from a long-term perspective and helps you put a lead in or out of your qualifying field.
A good sales team takes everything into account, so does a qualified prospect. And that includes negative case scenarios that should be stored and worked through. Don’t be afraid to ask about unpleasant things like:
40. What are the results of doing nothing?
41. What can prevent us from our collaboration?
42. What would be the consequences if you didn’t solve these issues?
43. What would be the consequences if you didn’t overcome these challenges?
44. Have you tried to solve the challenge in the past? How successful was it? What went wrong?
By pointing at the possibilities of having unsolved problems, you create a sense of urgency, which brings the focus of the conversation back and keeps it dynamic.
Asking these questions signals that you are on the finishing line in closing the deal. But first, you need to get answers to the following:
45. Which metric(s) would you use to evaluate the success of my solution?
46. What results will the solution implementation bring?
47. What are the steps we have to take to make this deal happen?
48. Based on what we’ve discussed, do you think our solution is a good fit for your needs? Why?
At this stage, you can sum up your discussion, tick the qualification box, and start planning further actions. Now it’s time to reconfirm future collaboration and close the deal.
The choice and number of the above qualifying questions for sales are determined by the needs and size of your business, your company’s values, your ideal prospect profile, and your preferred sales qualification framework.
Why is lead qualification important?
First, it saves time and gives a clear plan for lead nurturing and converting. A list of sales qualifying questions helps you establish a rapport in your sales deal. You need to remember that, just like you have an ideal customer profile, a lead searches for a perfect product/service for them, too. So be prepared for it because it’s a reciprocal process.
Second, it helps your sales team notice changes in the market. Instead of bluntly asking questions, have a natural and open conversation with your potential customers. It might give you more than you think in terms of the dynamic of small/medium business needs and values.
Finally, it lets you attract successful customers who can help build your product. If you close a deal with an unqualified customer, you might end up with an unsatisfied buyer and a possible source of negative reviews, complaints, or even a damaged reputation. But if you convert the right customer, you’ll get:
- Upselling/cross-selling opportunities
- Positive review and stellar reputation
- A loyal customer and product advocate.
The difference between these two outcomes begins with qualifying prospects correctly.
Oh, and one more suggestion for you!
You can tie sales qualification questions to your customer relationship management systems. According to Demand Metric Research Corporation, a CRM system is believed by 84% of companies to be beneficial in determining lead quality.
With Snov.io, you can save time and resources in the lead qualification search. To boost your sales and attract more qualified leads, use a buyer-centric approach in asking sales lead qualification questions, and Snov.io CRM will help you keep an eye on your conversion progress.