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Why Every Inbound Sales Lead Needs Qualification

5 min read
Updated Aug. 4, 2021
Published Sep. 9, 2016

When an inbound sales lead comes knocking on your door, they’re usually doing so because they have a pain point that they believe your product can fix. In this scenario, where the lead has come to you, you’d think it would be easy to simply ask for their contact information, a time they’re available to talk further, and then set up a meeting with an Account Executive. Afterall, it’s on the AE to take it from here, right?

The short answer is yes. But, contrary to popular belief, not every inbound sales lead is a good fit for your product. And in order to determine if they’re a good fit, it’s on you, my fellow Inbound SDRs, to qualify each and every inbound sales lead.

Why? Because avoiding this step could set both your sales team and your prospect up for failure through wasted appointment time, unsuccessful adoption processes, or, worst of all, quick churn rate for the organization.

Fortunately, there are simple steps to qualify your inbound sales lead. To start, every company should have a defined ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) that helps their SDRs determine whether or not a lead is a good fit for the product. Once that’s set and you have team-wide alignment, here are a few more steps to take to further qualify the lead:

Ask Good Questions

Rather than doing the easy thing (immediately passing the lead off to sales) you need to do the right thing: ask good discovery questions and learn as much about the inbound sales lead as possible to determine if they’re a qualified fit for the company’s ICP.

Consider this:

  1. Do they have decision making power?
  2. If there is a seat minimum, can they meet that?
  3. Does using your product require another product?
  4. What are their pain points that your product would help solve?

Don’t Fear the Phone

After speaking with a prospect, you should be able to answer each of the above questions with confidence. But the keyword here is “speaking.” Getting straight answers to these initial discovery of questions is much more successful over the phone than over easily-misconstrued emails.

Maybe the prospect is actually reaching out about a different product you offer. Maybe they’re not fully understanding your questions. Or maybe they’re just not answering your questions altogether.

Of course, these missing gaps in email conversation may be overcome by investigating other resources (like their company website, LinkedIn page, or social pages) and setting up an appointment over email can happen. But the problem with this uncertainty is that time is precious during this initial qualification period, and over the phone, you’re going to be able to better understand what led the inbound sales lead to reach out to you in the first place, and what their priorities are in a product.

Speak Up

After you’ve uncovered all of these important discovery questions, there’s a chance that the inbound sales lead is, afterall, unfit for your ICP and product. It’s important to take this time to speak up. If it’s not simply a good fit (or possibly, not a good fit yet), rather than wasting the prospect’s time, or even the AE’s time, you should explain to them why your product may not be right for them.

For those who aren’t a good fit yet, but may turn out to be the perfectly fit a few months down the road, it’s important to keep these same qualifying questions in mind, and to have the tools that allows you to follow up and reconnect in the future.

Be the Ambassador for Your Business

Of course, in any curious inbound sales lead scenario, there are going to be times where a prospect wants to set an appointment see the product, even when they know it might not be the perfect match for them. This is your job as the official inbound sales lead qualifier comes in, and it’s your final responsibility to determine what’s in the best interest of both your prospect and your business.

If you decide to go ahead and book a meeting, ensure that sales is fully aware of the unqualified nature of the lead before the consultation. Or, if you opt to decline the meeting at this time, take this time to plan a nurturing campaign to keep adding value to the prospect, so that if and when the time is right, they’ll be more likely to reach out again.

It’s tempting to consider every inbound sales lead as a perfect potential customer. But it’s more realistic to recognize that not every prospect is going to be the best fit for your product, and vice versa. That’s why we’re here — to act as the ambassador of our businesses and treat every inbound sales lead qualification with the same care as the renewal of the highest paying customer in the organization.

For a more comprehensive look into Salesloft’s internal SDR process, download our free playbook and optimize your sales efforts to start crushing your sales development goals today.