You do what you do because you want to serve people, but not just any people - the right people - qualified leads that turn into qualified prospects and then clients. Easily, 80% of business success boils down to understanding who your ideal customer is. 

It’s said that only 3% of your target market is ready to purchase at any given time. That indicates that all of those qualified leads and prospects fall somewhere on the spectrum between being problem aware and ready to solve the problem by investing in a solution.

How to Qualify Leads

Leads are people at the top of the marketing funnel. They have just become aware of you and your company. We want to make sure we’re attracting qualified leads and not just anyone. If you keep attracting the wrong people, you may not be clear on who your ideal client avatar (ICA) is, or your messaging is off. 

A qualified lead is someone who matches your ideal client profile. They meet most or all of the criteria you’ve defined as ideal. To make sure you’re attracting qualified leads, you need to be crystal clear on who your ideal client is, and you need to have a thorough ideal client profile

You need to use your ideal client’s language in your messaging as this is the best way to stop the scroll of others that match your ICA profile. When they see you using their language, they’ll know that you truly understand them.

When most of the people coming into your world are the right people, you know that you’re attracting qualified leads.

Understanding The Characteristics of a Qualified Prospect

A lead becomes a prospect when they opt into something that you offer, whether that’s a free download, a discovery call, a challenge, or a workshop; once they’ve given you their information in exchange for the content you’re offering, they move to the prospect stage.

As in any of the stages, prospects are at different levels. They run the gamut from cool to hot, and that all depends on the following:

  • Are they problem-aware? Do they know they have a problem, and is it one that you solve? 
  • Are they actively looking for a solution to the problem? Knowing they have a problem is one thing; actively seeking out a solution is another.
  • Do they have the budget to invest in the solution? This is not something you’ll know for sure until you get on a consultation call, but through your content, you can educate your audience about the investment required to solve the problem they have. 

Your content is what helps them move through the stages from cool to hot. In it, you should cover the problem(s) you solve, who you help, and how you work. This enables your audience to get to know you and to become more educated about your process and how you can help them. 

For more information on the sales cycle, check out this Sales Odyssey article.

The Art of Qualifying Sales Leads

You’ve got people interested in working with you - that’s great! Now, let's cover the art of qualifying sales leads. Setting the stage for making a sale starts well before the sales call. If you’ve developed a solid marketing messaging strategy, the heavy lifting will have been done before the sales call takes place. Your goal is to answer most questions and objections of your prospects through your marketing.

When a prospect joins you on a consultation or sales call, you’ll be able to tell how well your marketing has done its job. While it’s true that not everyone pays attention to everything, you should be meeting with people who are well-versed in your philosophy.

Before the call

We recommend having a questionnaire for people to complete when booking their call with you. The questions you ask should give you a good idea of where they are in their journey of solving the problem you help with. Ask questions such as:

  • What is your biggest struggle right now?
  • What have you previously done to resolve this?
  • Have you ever invested in solving this problem?
  • Why do you believe what you tried before didn’t work?

You need to get an idea of how problem-aware they are, what they’ve tried to resolve the problem, whether or not they’ve invested, and why they believe what they tried didn’t work. The answers to these questions will give you some great insights into whether or not this person is ideal. 

On the call

Greet the person and confirm that you are here to discuss how you can help them with the biggest struggle they listed in the questionnaire. Ask them if they have any questions and then listen. 

Let them talk more than you talk. 

The more the person says, the more you learn and the better questions you can ask. Your goal is to assess the fit between the two of you. You don’t want to bring on a client that isn’t a good fit because it will cause friction for you both. 

When you cover what they’ve tried before, this is where you can compare and contrast your approach to solving the problem to that of the solution that didn’t work for them. This helps them understand how you can solve the problem and why the other solution didn’t work.

On a sales call, we’re confirming who we are and how we can help. We’re answering questions, and we’re conveying information. We are never trying to convince anyone of anything. If you begin to feel like you’re needing to convince someone, it’s time to shift your focus by asking clarifying questions or ending the call. The sales call is as much about disqualifying as it is about qualifying. If it doesn’t feel like a good fit, refer them to a resource that you believe will help them and move on with your day. 

Extend an invitation to work with you and let them know what the next steps are. Saying something like, “I believe you’re a great fit for my program. To get started, I’ll just need your email address so I can send you the onboarding documentation,” or whatever the next step is.

After the call

Follow up no matter how the call went! Your goal is to provide value and be of service. If it turns out that the prospect wasn’t a good fit to work with you, you should have a resource to send to them or recommend the next steps designed to help them get to a place where they are a fit.

If the call went well, then you will want to follow up with the purchase link or other next steps to get them onboarded. Make sure to congratulate them on taking an important step toward achieving success.

Join us for the next Marketing Methodology Workshop, where we’ll show you how to qualify people on a one-to-many basis allowing you to leverage your time and bring more clients on board with less effort.

Carmen Reed-Gilkison

About the author

Carmen Reed-Gilkison is a certified Online Business Manager and Whole Person Certified Coach with 25+ years of marketing experience.

Deirdre Harter is a Certified Public Accountant with 20+ years of experience auditing and advising businesses of all sizes about how to build sustainable profitability in their companies.

They are also the co-founders of Encore Empire. Click here to learn more about their mission to help female entrepreneurs who happen to be over forty step into their power

To send a message to Carmen and Deirdre, click here

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