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What makes a Lead Qualified?

Susan Allen

In the last five posts in this series, we have traced the lead management process from the Initial Inquiry stage through to the final sales Win or Loss. 

Since there are several stages in the lead management process where qualification plays a key role, perhaps it’s worth taking a deeper dive into the concept of qualification. 

Picture a prospect as it moves through the Marketing & Sales funnel.  Additional pieces of information attach to it at each stage, until it can finally be called a lead.  With nurturing, the lead grows in value until it can rightfully be stamped “Marketing Qualified.”  After accepting the lead from Marketing, Sales passes the lead through one final screening to assess the likelihood of closing a sale.

In the Building Materials industry, for example, there are certain specific pieces of information that will help Marketing and then, later, Sales, to qualify a prospect.  During the initial qualification stage, we typically want to know:

  1. How big is the project? - measured in one or more of the following criteria:
    • Square footage
    • Budget
    • # of stories
  2. When is the project scheduled to begin? In other words, when will materials be needed?
  3. What stage is the project in?
    1. Pre-planning
      • Conceptual design
      • Preliminary design
    2. Planning
      • Design development
      • Schematic design
      • Construction documentation
    3. Bidding
    4. Post-bid

One of the first and most important steps when developing a lead management process is to brainstorm with the Sales team.  We need to understand from them what makes them want to grab their phones immediately to call a particular prospect?  What answers to the qualifying questions would turn that lead into a neon sign that blinks on and off saying:  Ready2Buy!?

Of course, there is lots of other basic data we want to collect on all inquiries coming into the marketing database.  For Building Materials manufacturers, the list looks more or less like this:

Contact & Company Information Specific Project Data
Contact type:   Location of project:  
 General Contractor Architect   City, State, Zip code
 Engineer Specifier/Designer Project Budget:  
 Building Owner, Developer   Less than $20MM
  Other   $ 20MM and above
    Stage:  
     Pre-planning Bidding
Role in the decision-making process:  Planning Post-bid
 Decision-maker Influencer    
 Gathering information    
Company type:   Bid date or materials- needed-by date:
 Architecture (excl.) Architect/Engineering  
Design/Build Corp. w/in-house architect Square footage:
College/University w/in-house architect General contractor   Under 10,000 sq. ft.
Sub-contractor Other   10,001 - 15,000 sq. ft.
      15,001 - 20,000 sq. ft.
Products specified:     Over 20,000 sq. ft.
    Project type:  
Relationship w/Company:   Retrofit/renovation
Customer - currently specifying Past customer - used to specify   New construction
Prospect Other Building type:  
    Hospitality Government/institutional
    Multi-family residential Education/Student housing
    Retail Healthcare
    Storage facility  

Needless to say, every new contact that engages with us doesn’t usually come with every bit of information that we’d like to have about them.  With a well-orchestrated lead management process, including an automated lead nurturing program, all of the data we need can be gathered over time.  The more we know about the contacts in our database, the better chance we have of engaging with them in a meaningful way and, one day, converting them into sales.

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