There's not a single sales leader on the planet who doesn't want more leads. Building a large, consistent pipeline is one of the most important elements of closing the right number of deals and meeting quarterly sales goals.
But building a clean pipeline both important and challenging – and accepting any and all leads can waste an entire company's time and resources. Here's how determining which leads should be qualified makes a sales team's job easier, closes deals and leads to better long-term customer relationships.
To build a pipeline that yields the best deals, begin at the beginning. With sales development becoming the hottest job in sales, it's critical that sales development teams are given a good head start. Teaching a team of sales development representatives (SDRs) to ask the right questions can capture a clearer picture of a prospect's needs.
Questions about a prospect's current tech stack, their sales process, and their own customers' needs provide SDRs the information they need to determine whether a prospect is a good fit. Remember: the earliest stages of the sales process aren't just for buyers to evaluate a product; they also help sellers evaluate a buyer. Moving bad leads through the sales process can create friction between the SDR team and the account executive (AE) team.
Disqualifying a lead in the mid-stage can be more difficult, but can still save valuable time. It becomes the AE's job to personalize the buyer journey, guide them to the close and facilitate a clean transition to client success. If any of those actions become difficult, or the prospect begins to disengage, it could be time to let go and work more engaged mid-stage leads with a higher likelihood of closing.
Personalizing the later stages of the buyer journey is vital. Providing content that offers information on how to prepare for, implement and receive support for your product can help prospects move quickly to the post-sale phase.
A less-than-qualified lead doesn't just waste time for salespeople; it can cost significant time and resources across an organization. Disqualifying a lead at later stages of the sales process will almost always be painful, but bad prospects become bad customers. Prospects who expect a product to be a "magic wand" or won't follow directions can lead to everything from resistance during implementation to low adoption.
When prospects are engaged throughout the sales process, they're more likely to view a vendor as a partner rather than a quick fix. When engaged prospects become engaged customers, they're more likely to build longer relationships – and that's good for the bottom line.
Sales teams have opportunities through the sales process to improve the buyer experience and move prospects closer to becoming customers. But not every prospect is built to be your customer, and recognizing it – at any stage – gives companies the opportunity to pursue prospects that are the best fit for their business.
Sharmin Kent is the content and communications manager at TinderBox. You can find her at Twitter at @STMKent.