Businesses that build and use a Lead Qualification team convert leads at a 40% or higher rate than teams that do not (b2b Lead Agency). Businesses that pass leads to the sales team without any qualification convert as few as 5% of all leads.

A lead qualification team is essential to successful sales growth, but growing a lead qualification team can meet corporate resistance, and lead qual reps may encounter a lack of understanding from their peers.

To avoid these scenarios, let’s take a look at what we need to take into consideration when building a lead qualification team.

The Manager
Start by determining a Lead Qualification Manager. This could be a proven sales rep who wants to get into management, but most companies hire full-time managers for their lead qual teams. The manager will keep the team focused on not only their tasks, but also the big picture. The manager should shield the team from upper management and other distractions – including sales reps. Clearly define the boundary between the lead qualification team and the sales reps. Lead qual reps are not assistants to the sales reps; they’re there to qualify leads so the sales reps can focus their time on closing prospects that are likely to buy your offerings.

A lead qualification manager should:

  • Monitor calls and conversations through CRM reports and dashboards and by listening in on calls using headsets with phone splitters.
  • Constantly improve the inside sales process. This means establishing metrics to measure performance, monitoring rules of engagement and managing compensation plans that make employees happy. Lead qualification reps are typically junior reps that eventually graduate into the next role, so a lead qualification manager is responsible for building a people pipeline that ensures reps are successful internally and prepared to move on.
  • Motivate the team. Each team player may be motivated differently. Learn the motivations, and develop spiff programs tailored to the majority attitude of the team.
  • Establish quotas that the team needs to meet and present the results on a weekly basis.

The Team
Lead qual reps may some day move to field or enterprise sales, but don’t hire a team based on skills for other sales roles. Lead qual reps should exude qualities very specific to their tasks. To help us understand which traits to look for, Ralph Barsi, Manager of Inside Sales at InsideView, shares the top 3 qualities he looks for in the lead qualification representatives on his team:

  • Discipline: Lead qual reps have to spin a lot of plates, and they have to do so quickly. They need the discipline to stay focused, and the discipline to become experts in their field. Lead qualification reps don’t typically own specific territories since they don’t necessarily know into which territories their leads fall until they qualify them. They’ll end up interacting with individuals from many diverse businesses, so they need to study how businesses operate. They need to understand the nuances in different types of business because they need to be well versed in conversation starters for different roles in different sized companies in different industries so they can convey that they know about a prospects’ world. They’re joining a new profession, and they need the discipline to study business in their free time so they can become experts, and so they know what they’re talking about when they pick up the phones.
  • Determination: Because lead qualification reps are typically young and start at an early phase in their careers, they posses a lot of growth and development potential. They get thrown in right away, and they can’t be afraid to fail. They need to constantly try harder, and possess the focus and drive to excel.
  • Curiosity: The conversation you have with a lead qualification rep is comparable to the conversation you have with a nurse before the doctor enters the room and proclaims your prognosis. Lead qual reps diagnose the situation so the sales reps can prescribe the solution. Lead qual reps need to find out as much information as possible about a lead so the sales reps can formulate a strategic approach. Their jobs entail gathering the blueprint of an organization’s buying process and handing it to the sales reps with specific details, and they’ll never find them if they don’t possess the curiosity to dig a little deeper. They find information by asking questions, and natural curiosity will guide their conversations in a smooth, approachable way. Lead qual reps are also talking to a wide variety of people, and they’ll pick up on the nuances that separate different types of companies if they ask a lot of questions.   

The Responsibilities
Right from the start, inform the team of their responsibilities. Their main goal is to build a sales pipeline by converting leads into opportunities. Lead qualification teams are usually held accountable for:

  • Working the phones to process inquiries
  • Qualifying leads generated by marketing campaigns (website traffic, email campaigns, events, etc.)
  • Communicating with leads to overcome objections and determine if a need exists between the product and the potential customer.
  • Spending roughly 10 minutes per lead on precall research, making 50+ phone calls a day, and connecting with at least 15 prospects each day.

The Resources

  • By the time you’re ready to build a lead qualification team, you absolutely need a CRM system. A good system should allow you to develop and apply business rules, criteria and checklists. A CRM is the foundation for an efficient sales team. Use a CRM to assign leads to lead qual reps for follow up, to assign and follow completion of tasks, and to track conversion to opportunity once leads have moved to field reps.
  • Offer opportunities to tftake part in sales methodology training, time management training and presentation skills training. Lead qualification representatives often make the first impression potential customers have of your company, so you want to trust that your reps present your company and products in the best light possible.
  • Offer value proposition training that is relevant and simple. Lead qual reps often encounter prospects before they’re experts on your offerings. Give them an easy way to deliver value.
  • Provide a Conversation Guide: a one page document that lists the key points your team wants to convey to a prospect, including introduction, value proposition, qualifying questions and next step suggestions.
  • Invest in a marketing automation system. Marketing automation acts as an additional filter to the human filter that your lead qual reps create. With a well-utilized marketing automation system, your reps will focus only on the cream of the crop of your leads, which is where you want them spending their time. You should leave your unfiltered, bottom-of-the-barrel leads to an automated nurture track.
  • Set up regular call sessions with a dialing service, such as Connect & Sell. These services get prospects on the line, so your reps won’t waste time jumping through hoops to schedule meetings. Dialing sessions throw reps into the lion’s den, and force them to hone their fast-thinking phone skills. Reps prepare for sessions by creating lists of 200-300 leads they’d like to call (typically all from one heavy volume-driving lead source, such as a big webinar or event), and conduct all their research beforehand. They study the prospects on their lists, take notes, and learn everything about them so that when the dialing service reaches their prospects,  they have a customized pitch ready to go. Dialing services are excellent practice, and offer an effective way for lead qualification reps to pump through large volumes of leads.

The Process
Build your lead qualification questions to solicit answers to the 3 Ss:

  • Status: How urgent is a lead? Is it red hot and ready to go? Do I need to pass it to a sales rep right away? Should I queue it up for a marketing campaign before I handle it? Pre-determine the status options, and define specific follow up for each status.
  • Source: Where did the lead originate? Did it attend an event we hosted? Did it visit our website? Did it call the sales line? Understand all types of lead origination, and define specific follow up for each type. If a lead attended an event, create a standard event execution plan that includes email and phone call follow up, and any specific message relevant to that event. If a lead downloaded a white paper from the website, design a talk track to that topic and that lead source.
  • Score: How likely is this lead to buy our product? You don’t want your lead qual reps calling the lowest scoring leads. Enlist your marketing team to nurture poorly scored leads, and assign your reps to focus on the highest scoring leads. Set up a system so they’re delivering high level touches with leads that are most likely to buy. And make sure your scoring system is top notch!

The Conclusion
Creating a high-quality lead qualification team takes time and patience, but will result in a stronger pipeline of qualified leads.  This will allow your sales team to focus on more qualified leads and will shorten the sales cycle and help win more business!

*Special thanks to contributing author Ralph Barsi, Manager of Inside Sales @insideview