What is Lead Qualification?

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Sales professional negotiating and closing a deal with a customer.

Whether you’re a sales or marketing professional, you’ve probably heard people mention Lead Qualification before. If you haven’t, don’t worry, because that’s exactly the topic of this post.

Before we can explore this concept, though, let’s start with a simpler and broader concept. Do you know what a Lead is?

What is a Lead?

In a Marketing and Sales context, a lead is someone that could potentially become a customer (an individual in B2C or a company in B2B).

What defines it as a Lead is the fact that this person/company has expressed interest in what you sell. 

Leads can be acquired through many different channels, from customer referrals to a form someone filled to gain access to an ebook/white-paper.

The origin of this lead, along with a series of information about it, helps to determine how qualified a lead is, which means analyzing where this individual/company is in the customer buying journey.

What is Lead Qualification?

Now you already understood what a Lead is, we can talk about the qualification funnel. 

The process of determining if a lead is qualified (and how qualified it is) encompasses more than a single rule. The concept of lead qualification varies from company to company, from industry to industry. according to what they define as a ‘qualified lead’.

There are, though, three common lead qualification standards, as follows:

Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)

A company’s marketing team is normally responsible for lead generation and the initial steps on the lead qualification ladder. A marketing qualified lead is, as the name says, a lead that was considered qualified by the marketing team.

The marketing team normally uses more than one approach to get prospects to engage with the company and, therefore, demonstrate interest.

Whether they filled a form to download an ebook or white-paper or signed up for a free trial, in order to be considered a marketing qualified lead this person/company’s interest must be considered qualified.

lead qualification hubspot smarketing funnel

Image source: https://blog.hubspot.com[/caption]

While visitors and generic leads are at the very top of your sales funnel, a marketing qualified lead is a little further down the road to becoming a customer.

Sales Accepted Lead (SAL)

After the marketing team determines a lead is qualified, their ‘job’ with this lead is done. It will then be passed on to the sales team so they can run a deeper evaluation, entering in the sales pipeline process.

The sales team goal at this point is to search for any information the marketing team may have missed to determine whether they should be sent back to the marketing team to be further nurtured and qualified, developed by the sales team or discarded.

Sales Qualified Lead (SQL or Opportunity)

To get to this point of the marketing/sales funnel the leads must necessarily have gone through the previous phases of the lead qualification process.

At this stage, probably the Marketing and Sales teams decided that this lead is ready to buy your solution—even though it’s not always correct, of course. 

So it’s important to check some aspects of the lead to start a negotiation:

  • Budget: the lead has the fit to use your product or service, but does the pricing aligned with the budget of the lead? How much does the lead value your product to invest in it?
  • Decision-making process: is the salesperson talking to the decision-maker? If not, what actions the person should take to negotiate with the right person?
  • Authority: and after that, it’s important to know who has authority (not necessarily a high role) to escalate your product/service to the company to adopt your business. This person is commonly called the “champion”. 

Next Steps to Have an Efficient Sales Process

The idea here is not to talk about sales techniques. You’ve probably already heard a lot of it and might be bored.

But the question here is: are you organizing your Marketing and Sales operations to be the most efficient possible? So take a look at the best use cases Pipefy has that might help you:

Written by
Isabelle Wuilleumier Salemme
Head of Customer Support @Pipefy. She uses her extensive Pipefy knowledge to help users make the best of Pipefy via support and writing informative content pieces. Besides being in charge of support, she's an avid reader, a coffee lover, and a professional photographer.