I'm not a big fan of wasting time. That's why I avoid cold calling. The time I spend qualifying Social Selling leads literally pays off by giving me all the time I need to nurture prospects along and respond quickly when they're ready to be contacted. I can move along to the next set of prospects in my pipeline, secure that current batch is simmering along nicely. Rob Thomas, Social Selling expert, defined this approach as "Qualify hard and sell soft."
In the end, what I really want is for my marketing team to create and maintain a stream of motivated leads, and marketing qualified leads, who continue to build up. I make sure that I don't consider them a prospect unless they have a problem that I can solve, they can afford those solutions and they have enough influence to make sure that things get done.
The SQL Checklist
The following sales qualified leads (SQL) checklist makes it real. This checklist is like a crystal ball that helps me look into the future and see which leads (qualified by marketing or not) are most likely to mature into satisfied customers.
1. Has the SQL expressed interest in the type of product or service that you sell?
Not necessarily the one you sell but the type of service. You may be more useful as a resource for now and a sales provider later on based on where they are in the sales cycle. Your job is to nurture them and enable conversations that make them realize the benefits of your service/product.
Sample Social Behaviour: The buyer has visited your website and has looked at your service’s pricing page. With the right analytics tools, you can track these type of actions and understand the buyer’s behaviour and where they are in the buyer’s funnel.
2. Does the company have the right budget?
Sometimes buyers might not be able to cover for the cost of your services. And there could be different reasons for this: timing, lack of resources, planning. “I don’t have the money”, isn’t always a final answer. As a sales rep, you should dig deep and try to picture what the real financial situation is. With the right messaging and budget planning, you can turn that uncertainty into qualified leads.
Sample Social Behaviour: Perform a search on your buyer’s company size through LinkedIn Search. By digging deeper, you’ll be able to find the right information regarding the company’s size which usually relates to its budget as well.
3. Does the SQL have the right level of influence?
Everyone has had the experience of selling to a prospect who loves what you do but has no power to do anything about it. Don't allow their enthusiasm to pull you in until you know where they stand.
Social Sample Behaviour: Locate your prospects through LinkedIn to find information regarding the department they work in as well as their title. This information is valuable to determine a buyer's level of influence.
4. What's their project deadline?
Will your company be able to deliver what the client needs within the time that they need it given your current backlog? This used to be a problem for operations not sales. Now you are the face of your company to your contacts.
Sample Social Behaviour: Ensure that you’ve allocated time in your routine to track social conversations and mentions regarding the type of services you provide. This can help create a win-win relationship by offering a solution for your buyer at the right time.
5. Can you bring value to the SQL, even without a sale?
Social Selling is ultimately about being a good mentor and a resource for your network of connections. Even in the scenario that your leads aren’t warm enough for a sale, those relationships are still valuable. Establish yourself as a trusted (and patient) resource and buyers will come to you when they’re ready for the next step.
"Your network is your net worth." - Jill Rowley
Sample Social Behaviour: Always be connecting. Set aside time to build your network through social media and engage in conversations with buyers. Socially surround yourself by connecting through various platforms and you will gradually build influence.
From the Funnel to the Hose
The most important aspect of the above checklist is that it doesn't assign absolute values. Depending on the type of investment and form of the solution, the weight of each qualifier can and often does change. For example, if the lead hasn't demonstrated interest in your solution, but that person is highly relevant in terms of the persona, then they can still be a qualified lead. Take this list, shake it up, make it your own and narrow your funnel to a fire hose.