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The 5-Step Lead Qualification Checklist Every GTM Team Needs

Stan Rymkiewicz
April 6, 2024
6 min
The following lead qualification checklist will help you sift through your leads, find the best opportunities, & automate your inbound funnels.

Try helping everyone, and you’ll help no one. That’s why a solid lead qualification checklist is  critical for GTM, as it helps to find the leads you can help (and ignore the ones you can’t). 

Thankfully, lead qualification doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming. Let’s take a look at a simple five-step lead qualification checklist every GTM needs, and how to automate it to accelerate inbound (and outbound) success.

But first…which qualification? 

Before we get started, a quick word: “lead qualification” is a broad term that :) teams and functions use differently. Most common is the division between marketing and sales teams, and how they define what a “qualified” lead looks like. 

In this article, we’re talking at a high level. The questions we’re asking here should apply to both sales and marketing qualification, even if the specific indicators vary. 

LEARN MORE >>> MQL vs. SAL vs. SQL: What’s the Difference & Why Does it Even Matter? 

The 5-step lead qualification checklist every business needs

Whether you’re an inbound GTM building a CRM lead qualification integration, or a salesperson prioritizing your call list, this lead qualification checklist will help you identify the best leads to engage. 

1. Is the lead interested?

If a lead isn’t interested in your product, you won’t get a foot in the door. Leads generally demonstrate interest in two ways: 

  • Direct interest—filling out a demo or contact form where they explicitly say “contact me!”
  • Indirect interest—engaging in activities that indicate interest, measured by bounce rates, engagement rate, conversion rates, etc. pages visited, content consumed, time on page, etc. 

Another way to measure indirect interest is through intent data, either through first or third parties. An example of first-party intent data is finding prospects that visit your pricing page but don’t book. Their interest in pricing qualifies them, so you should put them into a sales cadence to get them to book.

An example of third-party data would be from a source like a public review site, where a lead looks up your product category. This also demonstrates high intent, which means you should also put them into a sales cadence. 

If a lead isn’t interested, don’t waste your time with a sales call. Instead, put them into an automated marketing nurture and work to build their interest by adding value. This can also preserve your brand reputation, as you aren’t pressuring people into buying that aren’t interested. 

2. Can the lead get value out of your product? Do they know that? 

To effectively sell your product, its value must be clear. As such, your lead qualification checklist should include indicators that prospects will get value out of the product. These indicators generally fall into four categories. 

ICP alignment

Does the lead align with your ideal customer profile (ICP)? If not, that’s a good leading indicator that they’re not able to get value out of the product. However, that doesn’t mean it’s a deal breaker.

Because with every ICP, there are going to be outliers in terms of industries, use cases, roles, company profile, and more, many of which you probably haven’t even considered. So when qualifying based on ICP alignment, make sure your system is built to handle outliers. 

LEARN  MORE >>> The art of unqualified lead followup: 4 tactics for routing, nurturing, & managing unqualified leads to drive additional business value

Active user vs. decision maker vs. internal stakeholders

In B2B sales, leads typically fall into one of three categories: active users, decision makers, and internal stakeholders. 

Active users will be the ones using the product on a day-to-day basis, while decision makers are the ones with the authority to buy. Internal stakeholders are members of the buying unit who don’t fall into one of those two categories. 

Each person will realize different value from the product. For the active user, the primary concern will be whether the product saves them time and makes their daily work easier. For the decision maker, the value will be the product’s ability to improve overall organizational efficiency or open new streams of revenue. 

To qualify leads according to potential value, you need to first understand which category they fall into, and understand whether they’re in a position to realize this value.

Problem awareness & acuteness

Your lead qualification checklist needs to include indicators that a lead is aware of the problem your product solves. Further, the pain must be acute enough that they’re willing to forego their current approach and seek a solution. 

If a lead is consuming content and engaging with ads that demonstrate this problem awareness, that’s a sign of that awareness. High rates of content consumption also demonstrates a more educated lead, which can make them easier to sell. 

3. What other solutions is the prospect evaluating or using? 

If a lead can’t afford your product, you shouldn’t waste your time or theirs. But how do you know their budget before calling them? Here are some indicators of budget you can include in inbound forms and landing pages:

  • What other solutions are they currently using? 
  • What is the company’s annual revenue? 
  • What is the lead’s team size? If the company can afford more personnel, odds are they have more room to invest in your solution.  
  • Do they feel they’re paying a reasonable price for their current solution? If it’s low, what would persuade them to spend more? If it’s high, can you offer a price competitive option? 

4. Is now the best time for them to buy? Do they know that? 

Although it seems obvious, many GTMs neglect to ask the question: is this lead ready to buy? Or, they only look at the question on the surface level and ask whether the lead thinks they’re ready to buy.

But often the lead doesn’t realize they need your product until long after they’ve passed the point of need. It’s important that you look for indirect signs of product need and find a way to surface those in the conversation:

  • “I’m just too busy” or “We can’t move fast”
  • “Yeah, we’ve been looking into XYZ for a while, but haven’t moved on it”
  • “My team keeps saying we need XYZ, but I’m not sure it’s the right investment”

This is where you can look at the kinds of content they engage with. If they spend time engaging with content that directly engages these underlying challenges, they’re probably dealing with the pain your product solves. 

Part of the seller’s job isn’t just to convince the lead to buy, but to buy now. Which means even if the lead doesn’t realize the urgency, it’s worth it to qualify them and hand them off to a salesperson. 

5. What is the lead’s role in the broader buying unit? 

Remember the two categories mentioned above? While decision makers have the final say, active users can be your biggest champions. 

B2B lead qualification checklists shouldn’t just look at the contact, but the buying unit as a whole: decision makers, internal champions, budget holders, and other stakeholders. 

A qualified B2B lead can include people in any of these camps, and often you need to engage multiple people in the account to close the deal. But how you engage those contacts matters, and depends entirely on where they fit in. 

When building your lead qualification checklist, look at the lead’s job title, tenure length, team size, etc. That way you know who you’re talking to, how to help them, and the best strategy for closing the deal going forward. 

The critical need for lead qualification automation

Most companies can only manually qualify inbound leads before closing their first ten inbound customers. After that, it becomes unwieldy. 

If you don’t automate at this critical stage, you’ll end up with:

  • Lead dropoff & revenue leakage
  • Inconsistent qualification
  • Jarring user experience, as leads may expect a next step but don’t receive it
  • Conflict between marketing and sales as SLAs aren’t met

There’s really only one “downside” to automating lead qualification: outliers. If you’re overly stringent with your processes, you may miss leads that don’t align with your ICP but could end up being a good fit.

With Default, you’re able to create custom paths both for qualified and unqualified leads. So if you have an unqualified lead who meets certain criteria, you can automate your workflows to set up manual review for those leads, so you don’t miss any hidden opportunities.

And, of course, it’s better to set up these automations sooner rather than later. Even if you’re only handling a few leads a month, you should use that time to set yourself up for scalability. That way, you won’t be surprised when it happens. 

How to set up CRM lead qualifications

Let’s look at a specific example of how lead qualification automation works in two leading CRMs: Salesforce and HubSpot.   

Salesforce lead qualification setup

Setting up Salesforce lead qualification involves significant configuration. Here are some of the steps to making it work.

1. Customize lead fields. Salesforce comes with a range of default lead fields. You’ll need to adjust them to align with the lead qualification checklist mentioned above. 

2. Set up lead assignment rules. Salesforce enables you to assign leads to appropriate sales reps based on specific lead fields to enable efficient routing. If you integrate with a lead routing tool like Default, make sure these rules are set up in both platforms. 

3. Establish lead scoring metrics. Assign point values to lead attributes based on the importance of the factors in your lead qualification checklist. These can impact how leads are prioritized and routed. 

4. Integrate with marketing automation. Integrate Salesforce with your marketing automation and inbound platforms to ensure seamless qualification and handoff. 

5. Continuously review and optimize. Just because you’ve automated lead qualification doesn’t mean you should set it and forget it. Always adjust your setup to handle the complexities that arise as you scale. 

HubSpot lead qualification setup

HubSpot is a popular marketing automation and CRM platform, especially among inbound GTMs. Here are the major steps in setting up inbound HubSpot lead qualification.  

1. Set up lead scoring. As with Salesforce, you’ll want to set up lead scoring criteria based on weighted variables in your lead qualification checklist.

2. Customize your lead statuses & deal stages. Although HubSpot comes with default lead statuses, you should set them up to reflect your lead qualification process. Also, when setting up sales deal stages, make sure you define how those two processes align. 

3. Workflows. HubSpot requires setting up individual workflows for each lead qualification and nurturing processes. Alternatively, you can adopt an integrated solution that handles this more seamlessly, using HubSpot primarily as your CRM. 

4. Account for Hubspot drawbacks. HubSpot offers numerous challenges with regard to an integrated lead routing, scheduling, and lead intelligence approach. For those functions, you’ll want a separate system that handles them more seamlessly, like Default. 

5. Continuously review and optimize. As time goes on, you’ll learn more about your lead qualification process. Keep an eye on your system performance and make adjustments where needed.

Final thoughts on lead qualification checklists

A solid lead qualification checklist that’s both integrated and automated is critical to scaling up your inbound engine. While it takes a lot of strategic thought on the front end, you’ll save time and drive more revenue as your business scales. 

See how Default can automate your lead qualification checklists and accelerate your lead generation efforts here. 

Inbound Basics
Stan Rymkiewicz
April 6, 2024
6 min
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