10 Sales-Approved Questions for Lead Qualification
February 19, 2019 | Elizabeth Rivelli
Marketing teams spend a lot of time, money, and effort developing and running programs to generate pipeline and deliver qualified leads to sales. But often times, marketers don’t know what sales is actually looking for in a lead. There is a disconnect in the model that marketing uses to collect and score leads—the MQL—and what sales expects and values in an SQL.
To repair this disconnect, marketers have to understand what makes a lead qualified in the eyes of their sales team. They need to accurately uncover buyer intent, gather key insights, and help sales have more productive conversations with prospects that push them over the finish line. These lead-qualifying questions will help you deliver the best leads to sales, prove the value of marketing, and drive revenue for your business.
What is your biggest challenge right now?
A good place to start is by finding out why a reader is engaging with your content in the first place. Maybe they’re having trouble meeting their MQL goal, or they need help scoring leads, or perhaps their marketing campaigns are just getting stale. Whatever their challenge is, it’s going to help sales understand if your product can solve the reader’s pain points.
What is your company’s top priority?
Next, ask the reader about the goals they want to reach. In the B2B space, a few common answers might be: close more deals, generate higher revenue, or shorten the sales cycle. Having a grasp on the reader’s specific goals allows sales to personalize their follow up. The reader who wants to shorten their sales cycle might benefit from a case study that showcases how your product helped a company close a deal 40% faster than average. Giving prospects additional resources that show tangible results with your product will help push them further down the funnel.
How do you want to impact your company this quarter?
Most B2B companies will have broad organizational goals, as well as more specific departmental goals, so find out how your reader wants to contribute to those targets. Maybe your reader is a demand gen manager who wants to deliver 100 MQLs to sales per month. Or perhaps your reader is a CMO on the line for 30% of the company’s annual revenue. Your sales team needs this information to tailor their follow up conversations and drive home the benefits of your product that will help your readers reach their goals.
How do you think your company stacks up against competitors?
Everyone wants to be able to say that their company is surpassing the competition with ease. In reality, that’s not always the case. Your readers who are invested in solving pain points and inefficiencies in their department or organization are more likely to give you an honest answer about their standing among competitors. If a reader says their organization is falling behind the pack, your sales team has more fuel to follow up and create urgency around the need for your product.
What is most important to you in a new product?
This is a great question to uncover buyer intent. By asking a reader what is most important to them in a specific solution, you’ll be able to benchmark how good of a fit your product is for them. If your product offers those important features, your sales team can focus on those specific offerings in their follow up conversations. On the other hand, if your product does not support the features your reader is looking for, you can disqualify that lead before they ever get to sales.
What solutions are you already using?
It’s always a smart idea to ask your readers what existing solutions they have in place. This will help you understand if and how your product can complement the existing technologies in their stack. Knowing what solutions the reader is running also helps you get a better understanding of what type of tools the company invests in, and how much budget the company has for a solution like yours.
What existing systems do you need to integrate with?
When a company has a laundry list of solutions in their technology stack—like email, chat, analytics, social media, and so on—chances are, there will be some overlap with your product. Say, for example, that your solution integrates with marketing automation. If a reader says they are a Marketo user, your sales team can drive home the benefits of that integration in their follow up conversations with the prospect. On the other hand, if your product does not support marketing automation, and that is an important factor for the reader, then sales can recommend they look for a different product and disqualify the reader from your nurture stream.
What is your timeline for adoption and deployment?
Understanding how urgent the reader is looking to implement a solution is an important factor when it comes to buyer intent and budget. If a reader says they are looking to fully deploy a new tool in the next month, it’s likely that they already have necessary budget approval. It also means that your sales cycle is likely to be much shorter with this prospect, compared to a lead that plans to adopt a new solution in the next six months.
How many employees do you have?
When you know how many employees a company has (which translates into number of seats), you can get a better idea of the size of the potential deal. Maybe the reader has an eight person marketing team that needs access to your product, or perhaps the reader is the sole marketer for their organization, needing only one seat. This is another lead-qualifying question that will help you determine how much revenue the deal could bring in.
What can our company offer you next?
Finally, after asking your readers questions that your sales team wants answers to, make sure you’re asking them questions to understand what they want next. After engaging with your content, maybe the reader is sold on your product, and they’re ready to speak with sales. On the flip side, leads at the top of the funnel might want to read a case study and share that information with higher up decision makers on their team. There will also be readers who realize your product is not a good fit for their needs, and therefore, don’t want further correspondence from your company.
While these questions are a solid starting point for lead qualification in your interactive assets, we highly recommend speaking to your sales team to understand the specific questions they want answers to before talking to a prospect. Sales and marketing alignment is critical in order to close deals and drive revenue, and that starts with frequent two-way communication and transparency.
When marketers understand the questions that sales wants to ask, and what answers they are looking for, marketing can systematically work to generate leads that meet the right criteria. And then when they deliver those leads to sales, sales is happy, marketing proves their value, and the business grows. Sales learns to love marketing again.