Conflict between sales and marketing over what are qualified leads has existed since the dawn of modern marketing. It’s pretty typical for an organization’s marketing team to feel that their sales team is at fault for not following up with their leads. “If only sales would make more calls…” is how this line of thinking usually begins.

On the other hand, the sales team typically will come back and say that the leads the marketing team provides are worthless and unqualified. Sadly, this too often is true; a name on a list does not make it a qualified lead.

A lead should only be considered qualified if there is a legitimate chance they could eventually become a customer.

How to identify qualified leads – what you need to know

It’s important to start with a simple understanding that all leads are not equal. Maybe you already use the Lead / Marketing Qualified Lead / Sales Qualified Lead / Opportunity structure in segmenting your prospects. How do you qualify your prospects to fit into each of these categories?

Fit is everything for lead qualification. Your sales and marketing teams can waste a lot of time working with prospect leads that are a poor fit and ultimately do not buy. On the other hand, they may be ignoring other leads that do fit and, with a little engagement, could convert to new customers more quickly.

Do they fit?

1. Deal Fit

This is the first step you really need to understand in qualification.  Deciding whether a lead is deal fit will vary by company but should include:

  • Does the prospect fit your targeted customer profile (industry, size, etc.)?
  • Are they from a geographic region that you can manage if you win the business?
  • Can you identify their primary need or challenge as one your company can help them solve?

If your lead fits ALL of these, you have a qualified lead that is worth nurturing.

2. Interest Fit

Is the lead showing enough interest that you have a chance at real engagement? Buyers are smart despite your best efforts. They will find ways to avoid connecting with you if they aren’t interested. How can you tell your lead could be an Interest Fit?

  • Have they visited your website multiple times; have they looked at your product or pricing pages?
  • Have they opened and clicked through your emails?
  • Are they subscribed to your blog?

If your lead fits AT LEAST 2 of these, you have a marketing qualified lead that can be moved to the next stage.

3. Power Fit

The next critical element to understand is whether your lead has the authority to make a decision or at least the ability to connect you with the decision maker and help influence the decision. Your judgment can be a bit more subjective, but it is still important.

  • Does their role in the organization match your other customers? (Researching their title on LinkedIn can help, but you may need to probe further).
  • Are they involved in recommending or approving purchases of the types of services your company provides?

If your lead fits AT LEAST 1 of these, you have a sale qualified lead that is worth passing on to your sales team.

4. Timing Fit

Finally, you have timing fit. This is about learning if your prospect has enough motivation to act.

  • Have they requested additional information?
  • Are they interested in a product demo?

If your lead fits ANY OF THESE, you have an opportunity that deserves priority, followed by your team.

Leads come in all shapes and sizes. Paying attention to how they fit your customer profile will help you focus your activity on those with the best opportunity for success.