The Ultimate Guide to Categorizing and Defining Leads

The organization of data in a business is valuable in increasing productivity. Understanding which customers and leads are the most interested in your product will allow you to prioritize your time and resources. In order to create this organization, it is essential to properly categorize and define your leads. In doing so, you will be able to more easily identify which leads are most likely to become customers and eventually result in closed deals.

What is a lead?

A lead is an individual or organization that has shown interest in your product, usually by sharing some sort of personal contact information with the company. However, not all leads are good leads. Most leads are unlikely to qualify and are not worth your time. Qualified leads are high-quality leads that prove to indicate potential for closed deals. 

Accurately defining a qualified lead can be a little more challenging. It is essential that the marketing and sales teams mutually agree upon the definition of a qualified lead. If marketing and sales are not aligned on the definition of a lead, marketing may spend countless hours and dollars on generating leads that are promptly discarded by sales. 

It’s important for companies to generate leads because without them, most businesses would lack the sales and customer base needed for growth. The process of attracting customers needs to be efficient and strategic. Having a detailed and organized strategy will allow you to better target qualified potentials while generating leads.

In order to generate high-quality leads, both internal and external work must be done. A qualification and categorization strategy will help accomplish this. Most organizations qualify their leads using a process strategy with multiple stages. 

Marketing Qualified Leads

MQL’s, or Marketing Qualified Leads, are the lowest level of leads that have shown some sort of engagement or interest in your company or product. In other words, MQL’s are users that have visited your site that show potential for becoming a customer. At this point, the MQL is not ready to be passed to the sales team yet. It may not be willing to make a purchase at this stage. Therefore, the MQL needs to be nurtured by the marketing team in order to qualify to be passed on to sales. During this nurturing time, the goal is to help the lead learn more about your product and hopefully guide them down the sales funnel. 

Sales Qualified Leads

An SQL, or sales qualified lead, has advanced farther down the buyer journey. It is a lead that has moved past the curious stage and is now more seriously considering a purchase. It will have met the qualifications to become a SQL that were previously set by the sales team. That is why it is so important that the marketing and sales team are aligned in understanding what these qualifications are. The marketing team’s goal is to nurture the MQL into becoming an SQL, and without specifications defining what that means, it might waste a lot of time and money in the process. A successful result from an SQL would be the sales team converting the lead into an active customer. 

How to Qualify a Lead

Qualifying a lead is a process that takes time and information about the user. This process will require you to ask questions in order to understand more about the lead. This will help you know if they have potential interest in purchasing your product. 

BANT is a qualification framework that many salespeople use. BANT stands for budget, authority, need, and timeline. This framework allows salespeople to better understand if they should pursue a lead. It also helps them know if their leads have potential to become customers. Lastly, it determines which leads should be prioritized in the process. 

Budget answers the question of if the prospect is capable of buying your product. Determining your lead’s budget is essential. If your product is out of the budget of your lead, there is no point in spending the time to pursue them. 

Authority looks at if the sales lead has the authority to make a decision or purchase. Sometimes the person you are talking to does not have the power to make the sale happen. If that is the case, it is worth talking to the person that does. 

Needs are fulfilled as you provide solutions to customers pain points. Sales people need to be very familiar with the needs of their customers and to know how quickly and efficiently to respond to them. Understanding customer needs will also help you understand why they are worth spending the time on.

Timeline refers to the buyer’s journey and when they are planning on making a purchase. Time is an asset. That is why prioritizing leads is so important. Putting your main focus on those leads that show the most potential will help optimize your time and resources. 

Conclusion

Leads provide a customer base that create sales and generate growth in a business. Categorizing and defining your leads is essential for successfully identifying potential customers. Taking these simple steps will create alignment between marketing and sales teams. You will be able to focus your time and resources on the most promising and important leads.