Updated June 14, 2023: We updated the article, breaking down the sales qualification process into more detail to show why AI can be a gamechanger for your conversions.
In the B2B world, sales qualification defines the success of your sales efforts. From discovery calls to demos to closing, every member of your sales team should directly contribute to the sales qualification process.
Sales qualification helps you determine whether further involvement and investment in a given lead is worth it. If your goal is to sell more, you should avoid spending time with leads who have a low buying intent — and the earlier you can determine that intent the better.
Tip: Filter out leads with low buyer intent in real time with the help of Lift AI. This solution integrates with your marketing tools (e.g. chat) and presents different conversion flows based on the visitors’ likelihood to buy.
What Is a Sales Qualification Process?
A sales qualification process is a structured sequence of sales-related events with clear predetermined criteria for identifying leads that are a good fit for your offering.
For example, sales qualifications questions during a discovery call help determine which leads should proceed to the next stage (e.g. a demo).
A strong sales qualification process can improve your close ratio by 20, 30, 40%. It’s not trivial!
Without a sales qualification process in place, your BDR team would go all in on every lead, winning a minuscule number of deals and wasting hundreds of hours every week.
The benefits of sales qualification are:
- Focusing on leads who want to buy from you
- Delivering a personalized experience to your ideal customers
- Having different BDRs focus on different niches
- Tweaking the sales qualification process for various industries
- Saving time and energy while closing more deals
- Removing roadblocks and risks down the road
- Avoiding bad customer-product fit
A good sales qualification process leads to productive engagements and happy customers.
How to Find Qualified Leads
Every sales qualification process starts with generating leads by your marketing, sales, product, or website efforts:
- Marketing leads might have received your email campaign newsletter
- Sales leads could have reached out to your BDRs directly
- Product leads could have signed up for a demo of your product
- Website leads might have contacted your sales team through chat
At large organizations, the number of incoming leads through these channels usually surpasses the capacity of BDRs to handle them all. This is where sales qualification begins.
Sales qualification starts with a set of qualifying questions to determine a good fit. Popular questions are:
- What problem are you trying to solve?
- Why are you interested in this solution?
- Are you switching from another product? If so, why?
- How big is your team?
- What’s your budget?
Keeping the questions open-ended gives BDRs more information and allows them to segment leads into qualified and non-qualified ones.
Qualified leads proceed to the next stage in the qualification process. Non-qualified leads are redirected to a nurturing campaign if there’s a possibility that they might become qualified in the future or archived outright.
What Is a Qualified Lead?
A qualified lead is someone who has passed your qualification process by answering the discovery call questions in a way that meets your predefined criteria.
If a lead becomes qualified, it doesn’t mean they will always stay that way — they can fall off at any point in your sales pipeline later on.
Leads can be qualified at different levels:
- A whole organization could be qualified if it fits your criteria for geographic location, revenue, number of employees, etc.
- An opportunity could be qualified if a particular organization has the explicit need and the budget for your solution
- A specific prospect could be qualified for having the decision-making power to close the deal
Why Should You Disqualify Leads?
Disqualifying leads and turning away potential customers sounds negative at first, but it’s going to help your sales efforts a lot in the long term.
Disqualification tends to happen during initial conversations, but can occur at any stage of the sales process. Good reasons for disqualifying a lead are:
- They no longer fit your ideal customer profile (ICP)
- Their opportunity window has passed (e.g. their company no longer has the budget)
- Their company has undergone a major change (e.g. layoffs, bankruptcy, pivoting to another industry)
While disqualifying leads reduces your sales pipeline, it’s important to remember that inflating the pipeline with leads that wouldn’t buy your solution is much worse. Focus on quality, not quantity.
What do you do, however, if the amount of incoming leads is too high to be manually qualified by your sales team? You should augment your sales qualification process with artificial intelligence.
How Can AI Qualify Leads on Your Website?
In the digital world, your website serves as an aggregator of leads coming from various acquisition channels (e.g. email, ads, trade conferences).
When your website visitors are in the hundreds, they can be managed by your sales team. But when they get into the thousands, it’s a whole different game.
The solution — artificial intelligence and machine-learning models that can accurately evaluate and qualify visitors’ buyer intent for you, instantly and regardless of how much web traffic you have.
Lift AI is the premier anonymous buyer intent solution leveraging a unique machine-learning model trained on more than one billion data points and 14 million live sales interactions.
As soon as a visitor lands on your website, Lift AI springs into action. Using a mix of real-time data and its predictive capabilities, Lift AI assigns each visitor a buyer intent score. Visitors with high buyer intent get connected directly to your BDRs through chat. Visitors with medium or low buyer intent are directed to a nurturing funnel, a self-help guide, or a chatbot.
Lift AI evaluates a near infinite number of leads in real time. It can even determine the buyer intent of anonymous website visitors (who haven’t been recorded in your CRM), which represent up to 98% of traffic on an average website.
Around 9% of your traffic has high buyer intent, which Lift AI identifies with 85% accuracy. Even better, you don’t need to train Lift AI on your historical data — just install the solution, and it’s ready to go.
Lift AI customers have reported increases in chat conversions of anywhere from two to 10 times within 90 days. PointClickCare increased its conversions by 400%, attributing over $1M in extra revenue due to the Lift AI integration. Formstack — by 420%.
The magic of Lift AI (i.e. increased sales and conversions) happens when it frees your BDRs to sell to customers who want to buy from you.