Business lead qualification is a vital part of the B2B lead generation process. Without properly qualifying leads, your salesteam will struggle to convert them successfully into high-quality, retaining clients. Leads are often qualified with specific questions that access how well suited a lead is to the product or solution in question. But how should we approach lead qualification, and what sort of questions should we ask? The questions chosen for business lead qualification heavily effect their sales pipeline progression, so you need to choose correctly. Here are our 12 favourites to get you started…
Back to qualifying basics
Before we spring into our 12 favourite qualifying questions, we need to approach the backbone of business lead qualification questions. These questions aim to gather vital information the salesperson can use to understand how best to approach this sale to make it a success, and a lead’s product appropriacy (if you’re selling website development and they don’t have a website- you need to know!). The BANT method for lead qualification is used by many, as it offers an easy approach to understanding the essential elements every business needs:
B- Budget– What’s your budget for this purchase? What’s your budget to solve this problem?
A-Authority- Who has the authority to buy? Do you need further authority to confirm the purchase?
N- Need– Do you have a need for this product/solution? How desperate is your need to solve this problem?
T- Time-frame– What’s your implementation time-frame for this purchase? Is there a time-frame we need to be mindful of with this purchase?
These four values work well to gain much needed information from leads generated through marketing campaigns and prospects contacted by outbound calling. But BANT is very much surface level in its offering, and some of the questions formed around these topics are too direct for early communications, putting some leads off.
Though qualifying questions serve a functional purpose, they can also be used to strengthen the relationship between the organization and the lead; this relationship becomes very important later down the sales pipeline and can seriously influence results. These 12 questions aim to approach lead qualification with a more personable edge, helping you get the information you need whilst also boosting the lead-salesperson bond.
1) What problems frustrate you most at *business name*?
This is a great opener for qualifying questions. It strikes up a conversation we can all relate to whilst offering a huge amount of very important and valuable insight. The business lead describes their current pain-points, allowing you to link them back to your product/solution later down the line. They may also share some information about how severe this problem is, offering a slight hint towards time-frame (but we’ll come to that later!). Ultimately this question is the perfect start to your conversation, allowing you to assess their need for a product/solution like yours.
2) What have you tried to resolve the problem(s) so for?
Leading on nicely from the first question, this helps you understand their current solution (if any) and how yours can do better. This is a very important question to ask; you don’t want to sell them a solution they already have when they’re looking for something new or more advanced. It may also be the case that they have no solution, because they don’t know about any- the perfect opener for you to explain what solutions they could use (specifically, yours!).
3) Has this effected your budget at all?
Now we’ll gain a little more info on budget. Without directly asking them how much money they can afford to give you, this question offers that vital lowdown on their budget capabilities and, if they’re currently using a competitive product, how much it costs them. Asking about budget is never easy, and prospects voted budget as a discussion they don’t want to have on the first call, so use this question to combat this feeling. Used properly in discussion, this question is conversational and non-intrusive, helping the prospect open up so you can get closer to the vital information you need.
4) What purchases have you made recently?
Whilst this may seem like another budget question, it actually offers so much more. Asking this question helps you understand their purchasing and implementation process. If they have recently bought a tool but not properly set it up/not gained results, what does it say about them as a business? If the person you’re speaking to dislikes a recent purchase, did they personally authorize it, or did someone else choose it? What does this say about their authority, and the organization’s sign off process? The insight gained from this simple question is enormous.
5) Is this a problem for everyone in your team?
Another great conversation builder offering a bounty of great qualifying information. A problem faced by a whole team is far more urgent than one faced by an individual, increasing that all-important need. Asking this question offers further insight into the lead’s desire to solve that specific problem, but also hints at their authority and ability to act on a purchase. Be wary- if they mention needing team approval or similar, you may have end up with a complicated lead on your hands.
This question also gets you some bonus points; asking about the needs of the wider team gives you a less “I’m selling to you” approach and offers an angle of benefiting the bigger picture– a much more positive outlook in the lead’s eyes.
6) Has your company ever used a product/solution like ours before?
A great question to use at any point of business lead qualification. It informs you of several things, but mainly offers insight into how well versed they are in solutions like yours. They may know plenty about the product/solution you offer and already understand it’s value, so you need to tell them why you’re unique. They may know nothing at all, so you’ll need to explain the entire concept and how it benefits their business. There’s even a chance they’re a lapsed customer and have used your product before and it didn’t work out last time.
This question essentially sets out your approach to this sale, how you need to angle your product and what features you’ll want to highlight.
7) What other solutions are you evaluating?
If you’ve got a problem, you search for a solution and assess several options before choosing– it’s natural, so it should be expected that your leads are checking out other solutions as well as yours. Don’t ask this maliciously so it can be used as a springboard to badmouth your competitors– a definite no-no. The point of this question is information and understanding. It allows you to see how far through the pipeline the lead is, how much research they’ve done and ultimately, what you’re going to be up against later. If you have a free demo or trial, this is a great opportunity to open up a conversation about it, helping them continue to consider your solution along with others.
8) Are you looking to solve the problem soon?
This is a nice way of asking about time-frame without directly mentioning it (if business leads feel they’re being constantly quizzed for qualification, they’ll be reluctant to give you answers!). Phrasing a vital BANT question in this way continues the natural flow of conversation and encourages the prospect to fuel their answer with further information. They may let you know about an important upcoming product launch, or a holiday they’re soon to take, offering you some key qualifying information whilst providing some great conversation starters for follow-up calls/emails.
9) Tell me about your daily routine, and what the ideal solution would do for you.
Helping the lead understand your product and what makes it individual is very important it’s true, but so is practicalizing it and helping the lead understand just how deeply it can affect their everyday. This question gives you the ability to flawlessly align your product with the lead’s daily frustrations whilst opening yet further opportunities to understand their BANT values. Every answer they give, you need to dissect for deeper information; what does their daily routine tell you about their authority? What does it tell you about the results they want to gain from a solution? Even small hints can offer hugely important information.
10) What happens if you do nothing about the problem?
This question is such a valuable secret weapon for business lead qualification. Letting the lead think for a moment about what could happen if the problem in question goes unsolved does a lot of work for you, as they start to fear inertia. You get insight into what the lead fears will happen to their results, whilst gaining further understanding of how keen they are to embrace change. Even leads who remain only partially convinced by your offering instantly see more value in it when you set them up to face the worst with this question. Fear of missing our and failing can be as powerful as a promise to succeed.
11) Can you see our solution solving your problem?
The only way to honestly know if you could have a sale in the bag, is to ask! If there’s no way the lead can see your solution helping them, then you have a lot of work to do, that may even be to no avail. Many are too afraid to ask this question; facing the prospect of a “no” is scary, but if you’ve used these questions well and phrased your answers to match theirs, then you have nothing to fear.
Ask this question- it’s important. Like question 10, it allows the lead to self- analyse doing part of the work for you; before delving too deeply into the pipeline, you know what elements of your solution aren’t matching their vision– fix these now, and they have no reason not to buy later!
12) With X time-frame in mind, shall we look to do Y by Z?
E.g. With a 3-month time-frame in mind, shall we look to start a free trial by next Thursday?
This is a great way to end a qualifying question call, as it proves you’ve been listening enough to absorb information surrounding their time-frame and needs whilst sealing the deal on some follow-up communications moving further down the pipeline. The great thing is, this question can easily be elaborated on to match the information you’ve gained. For example- if they’re not the decision maker, you can ask “With a 6-month time frame in mind, shall we look to set up a call next week with *decision maker* so we can run them through the solution together?”.
Or if they’ve been very vague on BANT details, you can still run with it- “If we’re unsure on time-frame, shall we do a free demonstration on Friday to get the ball rolling? Is there anyone you’d like to sit in on that?”
With these qualifying questions under your belt, you’ll not only get the most from your B2B lead generation thanks to advanced business lead insight, you’ll also close more sales, of higher quality. What’s not to love!
Don’t forget the answers
This should go without saying, but all too often we get carried away asking questions then forget the finer detail as it wasn’t properly recorded. Just scribbling answers down in a notebook isn’t good enough- if you’re serious about business lead qualification, set up a system of documentation for their answers. Whether you choose a templated document or a shared online source, make sure it’s easily transferable, so if you or a member of your team is off on holiday or taken ill, valuable accounts can be easily transferred between teammates to continue working.
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