Powering the Pipeline Pt.II – Love Your Leads

 JP Werlin- Co-founder and CEO of PipelineDeals

With an efficient, dynamic process for qualifying leads, your team can put maximum effort into the best opportunities. Powering the Pipeline is a special multi-part series to help businesses sell better.

Like everybody else, we have limited time and a limited sales budget here at PipelineDeals. But at any given time, we have approximately 1,000 accounts in trial and several thousand leads that aren’t in trial. We get leads from organic and paid search engine marketing (SEM), affiliates, lead marketing, and LinkedIn. We’re also very fortunate to receive word-of-mouth leads from our existing customers.

We’d be lost without a clear process for evaluating and prioritizing our leads. As we’ve mentioned before, developing a process is cheap compared to hiring more people. A good lead qualification process will save you a ton of time by helping your salespeople prioritize their days and making sure they’re delivering the right products to the right customers at the right time.

Every sales team will have different criteria for qualifying leads, but the basic goal is to establish a picture of the person you’re selling to as quickly as possibly. You may have dozens of things that you want to know about your customer, but what are the most important?

For us, these are the most important things to know:

  • Fish Size. Is this a whale or a minnow? Minnows are great and we love working with them, but larger fish help us scale faster. We estimate the size and revenue potential of every lead as a minnow, trout, salmon, tuna, or whale.

  • Distance to Shore. When does this prospect need to make a decision? Are they just starting the buy process and shopping around? Or are they under pressure to make a decision this week?

  • Phone Number. Providing this information both enables and indicates interest in a serious selling conversation.

  • Decision Maker. Is the lead a buyer or a browser? Do they have purchasing authority?

  • Trial. We love getting people into our free trial program, and it shows an openness and willingness to try out the product.

In terms of prioritizing which new leads to contact first, size has the greatest weight for us. It just makes sense to jump on the biggest opportunities. We’ll often do some quick research, such as looking up a company on LinkedIn, to validate the reported sizing before we reach out.

However, our customer-centric culture means that we try our best to spend some time on every single lead, and we frequently change a lead status as we gather new information. You never really know which leads are going to surprise you, once you take the time to talk with the customer. A minnow can turn out to be a whale when you pull back and get a more complete picture about how the lead fits into their broader organization.

How do you qualify your leads? We’d love to see your brilliant tips in the comments.

 JP Werlin

JP Werlin is the Co-Founder of @PipelineDeals. He is a seasoned entrepreneur who enjoys building and leading teams of great people. JP is passionate about creating lasting brands that provide value and create mutually beneficial relationships between people. You can follow him on Twitter via @jpwerlin.

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