We constantly hear about how to properly qualify leads, how to get the right answers to sales questions, and how to set yourself up for a win. On the other hand, the disqualification of leads and how to handle them is just as important, yet rarely discussed.
Reps are so highly concerned about their pipelines and numbers that they drain their time, energy, and resources in an effort to qualify, demo, and sell to anyone and everyone. Some even attempt to game the system by calling pre-recorded hotlines to falsify talk time, resulting in a loss of hundreds of thousands in company time.
Think about a rep you know that is juggling a massive number of leads. They likely have far too many to keep up with and cannot dedicate attention to solving the problems of those with real purchase intent. If only 20 percent of leads convert, imagine the time and resources wasted on leads that will simply never buy. This overloaded pipeline eventually bites them in the long run, since they didn’t focus on the leads that really matter.
In order for you to be as efficient, productive, and effective as possible, you must properly disqualify leads, or else you are chasing people that never plan to purchase. This is especially important for reps who are the gatekeepers for demos. They must be able to identify the “tire-kickers” and prevent them from moving further down the pipe and eventually disturb your sales metrics later on.
Every sales organization has some sort of qualification rules, and the best reps adhere to them. The most successful reps understand that they should only qualify leads that meet the requirements. It’s also important that you trust your instincts. If there are red flags, instead of creating excuses to justify them or simply ignoring them, pass them over to marketing.
As a general guideline, to decide if you should disqualify leads, ask these questions:
You must also consider factors specific to your company and product, like team size, technology requirements, or support needs.
So you have determined that some leads aren’t worth your time. How do you break it off with them? It may be difficult to give up your hard-earned leads, but there are a few options that still leave the door open for a sale in the future.
The first option is to pass the leads to your marketing team. Marketing will put them in a nurture campaign, where they will continue receiving relevant information to them interested in your company. Three or six months in the future, the lead may be in a better position to purchase, and will reach back out because of the content they have received. They can be passed back to the original you, and the conversation can continue where it left off.
It’s important that the content that they receive during nurture is not 100 percent feature- focused. Since disqualified leads can’t use your product, why would they want to see something they can’t have?
If your company uses call tracking, your marketing team can understand exactly where the lead came from, what content they have seen, and what they did on your website. They can then use this information to ensure the content they send is as relevant and useful as possible. Furthermore, if you take thorough call notes, marketing can understand the lead’s specific needs and develop even more targeted campaigns based on their problems.
You can also establish a time to reach back out to the lead to see if they are qualified. When you check in, bring up the reasons for disqualification. See if their budget has more room, if their team has grown, or if they have implemented any new applications. This can be accomplished with a simple Salesforce task or reminder.
Call recording can be especially helpful when you revisit disqualified leads. You can listen to or read transcriptions from your past conversations to get context and personal details to pick up right where you left off.
A slightly more difficult, but far more rewarding method of disqualifying a lead is consultation. Instead of giving the lead away, turn into their consultant. Work with them to identify their problems and provide recommendations or solutions, even if it means connecting them with a different product. The goal is to build a collaborative, open relationship that keeps you top of mind. When you establish a consultative relationship, you move away from the traditional perception of a sales person and become a trusted resource. This elevates the opinion of both you and your product, and can contribute to an easy sale later on.