How To Start & Grow Your Business

Lead Quality: What Makes a Great Sales Lead?

Pete Gracey
Jan 5th, 2015
  • Estimated reading time: 5 min read
  • Hummy's

    1The more you know, the more valuable the lead. 2Knowing the wants and needs of your prospect is gold. 3A lead with a date and time set for followup is strong.
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Lead Generation

Crowd of people with hands raised.

Leads come in all different varieties. I’m sure you’ve seen your fair share of bad ones, mediocre ones, and even some, well, maybe some pretty good ones.

The leads your sales reps (and frankly, your marketing team) salivate over, are the great ones. Great leads have the power to ignite and emblazon an otherwise smoldering sales person. What is it, though, that makes a lead jump from (to bastardize the title of a Jim Collins’ book) good to great? I believe there are four fundamental differences between great leads and any other lead that enters the funnel. A lot of what follows may seem basic, but we know that it is the basics that win championships (at least that what John Henry said of our 2013 World Series champs, the Boston Red Sox).

The characteristics of a great sales lead are:

  1. Great data
  2. Fully mapped out buying process
  3. All of your qualification information collected
  4. A confirmed date and time for the initial introductory/discovery call

1. Great data

The first hallmark of a great lead is great data. It is the validated contact information that is the backbone of a great lead. When a sales rep receives a lead from his inside counterpart or her business development rep, the first piece of information that is read is who is interested. Before we go further, though, it must be stated that hallmark 1a of a great lead is a sales development rep that has been shown to be trustworthy and one with a proven track record. Knowing that the phone number, email address, title and spelling of the prospect’s name have been confirmed by a reputable BDR gives the recipient confidence that there is more to look forward to in the rest of the lead.

2. Mapped out buying process

The second part of a great lead is a fully mapped out buying process. While there may not always be specified budget for the product or services that you provide, if the lead has detailed information on that purchasing process, that information is priceless. Knowing what the progression is to either reallocate funds or acquire additional funds is invaluable to a sales rep. That level of detailed information alone is enough to distinguish the wheat from the chaff.

3. Qualification information collected

The third aspect of a great lead is getting all of your qualification questions answered. Let’s pause for a moment here, because I know that there is a big debate going on about questioning the value of BANT information. Argue all you’d like, but I’m here to tell you that there isn’t a sales rep alive who wouldn’t want a qualified lead with that level of detail delivered to them, and I’ll be so bold as to say whoever says they wouldn’t isn’t telling the truth. I’ve already covered the budget part of BANT above, and I’m happy to make the case for the rest of the acronym.

A great sales lead covers all of the bases. Knowing who makes all of the decisions, and understanding the role of each of the players involved is invaluable information. What needs and/or pains are felt in the organization? That information, friends, is what brings the picture to life here. There’s no lead without clarity into how you can make a difference. Identifying how soon that need must be met or how soon that pain must be alleviated gives a sales rep insight into how serious the prospect is. Again, if you’re telling me that your sales reps wouldn’t want this information, I’d say you were fooling yourself.

4. Confirmed date and time for further discovery

The final differentiator of a great sales lead is a confirmed date and time for the sales rep to begin further discovery. A good lead might have an agreement from the prospect to accept a call sometime soon from a sales rep, but the great leads have scheduled meeting times that have been accepted and booked on their calendar. Anyone can get a prospect to agree to a follow up call, but is the deft BDR who can get on the datebook of a targeted account. The great sales leads have been formally affirmed by both phone and email, ensuring that when the sales rep calls, it is the prospect – not their voicemail – that picks up the other end of the line.

Fill your funnel with any kind of lead that you like, but I submit to you that it is the great leads that your sales reps desire. The other leads have their importance, but they’re not greeted with the same reverence that a fully qualified sales lead is. Great data, map of the buying process, qualification information detailed out, and a confirmed scheduled discovery call – they are the pillars of a great sales lead.

You’ve seen those before, right?

This article was written by Peter Gracey and published on the Salesforce Blog.

Peter Gracey is the Chief Operations Officer of AG Salesworks and co-founded the company in 2002. As COO, he oversees the daily operations of AG Salesworks, which includes client engagement, personnel management, business strategy, across-the-board data analysis and long-term strategic planning.

Pete graduated from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst Isenberg School of Management where he is currently employed part time as an Adjunct Professor of Sales and Marketing.

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