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Marketing-for-Leads Guide: Step 4 – Define “qualified sales lead”

Step 4: Determine the definition of a "qualified sales lead" with which marketing, sales and corporate management agree.

Boost Your Company's Sales with MarketingYour goal as a marketer is to help generate sales. Although there are some steps in closing sales that are out of your control, what you can do is identify qualified sales leads up front. If marketing, management and sales all agree from the start on what a qualified lead is, there is a better chance that you will generate leads that are valuable to the salespeople. It’s important to confirm the definition, in writing, with all parties. The definition of a qualified lead is different for each company, and each must do the work to define its own meaning of a qualified sales lead.

Typical definitions include criteria such as the following:

  • Does the prospect have a need or an application for your product or service?
  • What is the prospect’s role in the decision-making process?
  • What is the prospect’s timing for purchase or implementation?
  • What is the status of the prospect’s budget?
  • What is the size of the opportunity?

A prospect is a contact at a company who admits to a business problem, either latently or directly, that could be solved by a product and/or service that you are selling. Your role, as a marketer, is to give the prospect hope of solving his/her company’s problem. Here are a few examples:

Problem: The company’s current disparate computer systems require employees to perform redundant data entry, thus wasting time and reducing efficiency.
Solution: Your software product would enable single data entry.

Problem: The company’s managers suspect its truck drivers are wasting time on their routes, but they don’t know for sure.
Solution: Your global positioning system would allow management to track the location of each truck at all times.

Problem: The company relies on face-to-face meetings among employees located in various parts of the country, but it has recently slashed its travel budget. It can’t afford to send the employees to meetings that require air travel.
Solution: Your web-based conferencing service would make it possible for the company’s employees to meet "virtually" in cyberspace.

In addition to having a business problem that you can solve, qualified leads

  • Have an established project in play. This is apparent if a solution task force has already been appointed or, for a small company, if the inquirer’s boss asked him/her to find a solution or make a recommendation.
  • Have the money to buy a solution, or are in the process of developing a budget.
  • Plan to purchase within a reasonable amount of time.
  • Have negotiated access to power. In other words, they can get you in front of the appropriate final decision-maker(s) when the time is right.

In addition to defining a qualified lead, you should create a glossary of standard terms defining what your company considers to be a "suspect," a "prospect," an "inquiry," a "response," a "qualified lead," a "qualified suspect," a "qualified prospect" and so forth. Again, sales, marketing and management need to agree on the definition of each term. This will avoid confusion later.

To download the complete guide as a PDF, visit B2B Marketing-for-Leads Guide.

Lead scoring can be a valuable tool as you create your qualification definitions. To score a lead, assign points based on how well the prospect meets each of your lead-qualification criteria. Consider the following example:

Funding, ready to go 5 points
Budget in formulation 3 points
No budget for project 0 points
Is the decision-maker 5 points
Is the recommender 2 points
Is an influencer 2 points
Has a clear need for product 5 points
Plans to buy within six months 5 points
Plans to buy in one year or more 1 point
Plans to buy $50,000 of product 5 points
Plans to buy less than $100 of product 0 points

To score the lead, add up all the points. Then, for example, those with 20 or more points are determined to be qualified leads; you should send them to your sales force.

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For more information, please call Mac McIntosh at +1-401-294-7730, send him email at or visit www.sales-lead-experts.com