How Do You Properly Qualify a Lead?


“LEAD” – an opportunity to present your business solution to a qualified and interested party.  –JM

Lead Qualification for Teleprospecting

How do you properly qualify a B2B lead, whether for your own business or as a part of an outsourced lead generation team?

Assuming that you have been able to get the attention of a decision maker, (insight on how to do that can be found in Part 1 and Part 2 of in my Secret Sauce of Teleprospecting blogs) then following the next four steps will ensure success in garnering qualified leads:

Build the Confidence and Establish Trust with a Decision Maker  

In order to have any chance of having a meaningful interaction with a prospect, you must gain the confidence and trust of the person to whom you are speaking. That is done with an excellent professional phone call.

If you are properly prepared, well-equipped, approach the conversation professionally and are able to respond to questions – that will build confidence and establish trust.

You build confidence through your professional approach, your voice inflection, your demeanor, and your preparation to properly represent the organization or business solution that you are bringing to their attention.

When you are shaky, not prepared, or reading from a script and cannot respond knowledgeably to questions, the person on the other end of the phone will not have the confidence in you to have the conversation, and they will move on.

No one is going to confidently give information to someone who doesn’t know what they are doing.

Meaningful Interactions Download

Properly Qualify a Lead

Qualifying a lead requires a conversation in which you glean the right information from your prospect. Asking the questions below will help you ask the right questions to keep the conversation going.

If you are able to get thorough answers to them, you will have valuable information and a highly qualified lead to usher towards next steps.

  1. How does the prospect currently handle the business problem?
  2. Is the prospect considering options?  Why is the prospect dissatisfied with their current solution?
  3. What will be the process to identify a new business solution?
  4. Timeframe:  When will a decision be made?  Where are they in the process?
  5. Budget: Does the prospect have a budget?  If not, will they be able to get a project financed?
  6. Decision-makers and key evaluators:  Who is the sign-off person? Who are the other team members that will be involved in identifying and evaluating new solutions?

If your prospect is still not interested in your product, service, or solution even after you’ve had a meaningful interaction your job is not yet over. Find out why they are saying no.

Are they using a competitor’s product? Are all of their needs being met?

Capturing the reasons why a prospect is saying no is valuable information for you and your client. You now have real-time research directly from the marketplace that they are targeting. It is very valuable.

Documenting and Next Step

Properly documenting a call is essential to the qualifying process. Complete and thorough lead sheets are an often undervalued but can be the key to complex B2B inside sales success.

Capture the answers to the qualifying questions – ensure that the information is thorough and accurate.

Don’t embellish or assume. If you have opinions, they should be stated as such so as not to confuse them with facts. Use actual quotes or paraphrasing to capture what was said.

The person who picks up and handles the opportunity should have a clear understanding of what was discussed. This information tells the story of what happened on the call and the agreed upon next steps.

The next steps for the prospect should have been predetermined by the client, and based on what has been successful in the past. Most commonly these include:

  • An in-person meeting
  • A scheduled demonstration
  • A scheduled date and time for a conference call

While all B2B lead generation programs should be customized to your client, following these steps as a general practice will ensure that you are only handing off truly qualified leads.

Highly experienced Business Development Executives (BDEs) applying this proven methodology to Lead Nurturing can help to take dormant, or slow to develop, opportunities to the next level.

Have you examined your inactive prospect list or stagnant sales pipeline and nurtured the opportunities to become qualified sales leads? Do you have any well-practiced techniques that have proven time and again for you? Please leave us a note in the comments.


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Editor’s Note: Originally published in 2015, this article was edited and updated in Oct. 2018.