Might. Maybe. Could.

Many organizations define a lead as a person who matches the criteria established about need or interest in their products or services. Wait, isn’t that the same thing as a prospect?

So, really – what’s the difference? Generally, a prospect is someone your lead qualification efforts determine has a high probability of becoming a customer. Leads fit the mold, but they’re not showing any sign of interest. Lead generation is crucial to sales, but sorting out “probably are” from the “might/maybe/could” group is what offers profitability. Here are three scenarios that can play out if you don’t take the necessary steps to add a lead qualification filter to your overall lead generation process.

 

“Well, that was a waste of time.”

According to the Rescue Time Blog, even as little as five minutes spent on a lead who clearly isn’t interested in buying multiplied across 250 annual working days deducts a minimum of  1,250 minutes from sales time.

You have all the time there is, and more cannot be manufactured. It might seem counterintuitive to dismiss a lead who does not strongly exhibit the criteria of an imminent buyer. But from a perspective of return on investment, moving on to a more qualified lead is a better choice.

These less qualified leads don’t have to be tossed out, though. They actually are the best candidates for lead nurturing. This process of creating relationships with strangers and accompanying them along the buyer’s journey allows you to be precisely in the right place when they finally are ready to make a purchasing decision.

 

“This isn’t working for us.”

Not all customers are created equal. Lead qualification also provides you with the ability to review the long-term relationship you may have with someone who buys your product or service.

Successful companies understand the value of being honest about differentiation. It means that not all prospects should choose you. Prospects who are least likely to buy from you tend to be those who would have a higher probability of being dissatisfied. What’s more, statistics show that an unhappy customer will tell an average  of 15 people about their experience with you, as opposed to just 11 people they’d tell about their positive experience with you. It’s estimated that in the United States alone, companies lose more than $62 billion annually because of poor customer fit.

 

Getting it right

Lead generation has become more difficult and expensive as traditional online methods have decreased in effectiveness. Organic search may require more content creation than a company could possibly accomplish. Digital marketing guru Gary Vaynerchuk recommends producing 100 pieces of content daily.

Even if you do have this capacity, the walled gardens of social media are likely to prevent you from deepening engagement with your most qualified prospects – the 3 percent of the market who are ready to make a purchase right now.

Lead qualification requires you to know more about potential buyers than they or the platforms you use to reach them are willing to share. It’s time to move to a more powerful way to sort the  “probably are” prospects the “might/maybe/could” leads. Learn how we can help you identify them using Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning, and Identity Resolution.