Filtering qualified leads out of the huge pool of random contacts is one of the biggest challenges B2B companies face daily. Did you know that 73% of leads generated through marketing efforts are totally unqualified? This means that when your marketing team transfers lead information to the sales team, seven out of ten contacts have no potential to convert into a successful deal.
Each of these unqualified prospects requires weeks of occasional interactions and hours of attention from SDRs until they say their final “No.” Emails, calls, follow-ups, and LinkedIn messages—so much time and effort wasted in vain at the very top of the sales funnel, achieving nothing but frustration.
To figure out either the prospect is a good fit for your business, you should do one simple thing—ask them! By adding sales qualifying questions in the email template or cold calling script, you secure yourself and your team not to waste valuable resources on something that doesn't bring results. Besides that, your sales team can shift their attention to things that matter more, like contacting qualified prospects three times faster or following up with leads who are stuck further down the sales funnel more often.
To help you understand how to qualify a customer in sales, we’ve gathered thirty-two qualifying questions examples that serve different functions. But first, let’s figure out how to include the lead qualification step in the sales prospecting cadence.
How to Use Lead Qualification Questions
Lead qualification is an inevitable part of the lead nurturing process: It helps to determine if a certain lead is worth your further attention, to evaluate how much you can benefit from each other, and define who needs to still be warmed up and who would never be ready to sign a deal with you.
There are numerous methodologies on how to use sales lead qualification questions depending on your company’s needs and values. Some of them, like CHAMP, ANUM, FAINT, BANT, and NOTE were discussed in our Ultimate Lead Qualification Guide. In the same guide, we have elaborated on why we at CIENCE prefer to use the last one, a more buyer-centric and less-salesy methodology. NOTE stands for need, opportunity, team, and effect. Each of the four blocks is used to cover different qualifying perspectives.
To give you a more practical understanding of how the NOTE methodology can be applied to your outreach process, we have prepared the best sales qualifying questions to ask at each stage of the qualification process.
NEED: Is there a need for my service?
When contacting a prospect for the first time, you need to figure out to what extent they are interested in your services: Are they in denial of the challenges they face, have they already established a plan that solves their needs, or are they already actively searching for someone like you?
All these questions and more should be answered in the NEED section of the qualifying process. In simple words, its main purpose is to help you understand the level of interest of the prospect to your offer and define at which stage of the buying cycle they are in. Here are the first eleven qualifying questions examples that can be helpful at this stage.
- It looks like you’re attempting to do [company’s need]. Is that correct?
- I’m curious to get your thoughts on [company’s need]. Does it sound relevant?
- Have you ever thought about doing [your offer]?
- I have an idea about [company’s need].
- When it comes to [company’s need], have you had the bandwidth to experiment with [your offer]?
- Do you have an internal team or are you working with another vendor to achieve [company’s need]?
- You are saying that you’re not currently searching for a solution to [company’s need], why not?
- What does your current sales process look like?
- Which industries are you targeting: Are they narrow or can we expand on them?
- What’s your top priority right now?
- What is your main challenge at the moment?
OPPORTUNITY: What opportunities will my solution bring to you?
Defining prospect’s pain points and formulating them into the needs won’t make the sales happen right away. You still have to prove to the prospect that your collaboration will be beneficial for both of you. However, this shouldn’t be achieved with scripted speeches but rather a natural dialogue with the lead.
At this stage, sales qualifying questions are used to demonstrate the solution your offer can bring to the prospect’s company in their words, coming from them, not from you. By asking correct lead qualifying questions, you can navigate them toward finding the answer to their needs and realizing the window of opportunity you are offering. Here are the best sales qualifying questions to help you achieve it:
- With the current solution of [company’s need] you mentioned, are you fully satisfied?
- What business problem are you seeking to fix with [your offer]?
- How are you planning to achieve [company’s need]? What about [solution] achieved through [your offer]?
- Interested to discuss how you can [company’s need] with the help of [your offer]?
- Would you like to briefly explore a very affordable extension to your team to help you [company’s need] via [your offer]?
- How urgent is your need in [company’s need]?
- What is the outcome of [offered solution to company’s need]? What happens if you decide to go with [your offer]?
- How much value will [your offer] bring to your company?
TEAM: Who will be affected by the implementation of my solution?
There are a few more things to clarify before you can get to the final stage of the lead qualification process. Of course, you might convince the person over the phone that your solution is worth giving a shot. But is this person the right one to talk to at all?
Before pushing the lead down the sales funnel, you have to make sure that you are talking with the right person whose decision regarding your offer will be taken into account in the end. To find out if the lead is a decision-maker, ask the next sales lead qualification questions:
- What is your role in the decision-making process of the company?
- What is your job title?
- Are you one of the team members who has the final say regarding [company’s need]?
- Since you are not the decision-maker, can we add someone from your team to see the full picture of your current situation regarding [company’s need]?
Besides that, you should remember that your product might affect the work process of an entire team and a group of decision-makers, not just a single individual who picked up the phone. That’s why you should be aware of the concerns other teammates might have about your offer:
- Who will be responsible for the successful implementation of [your service or product]?
- Would other people from your company be interested in hearing about possible solutions to [company’s problem] that may be inhibiting your team’s efforts?
EFFECT: What will be the effect of our collaboration?
If this is the first-time collaboration with your company, your prospect might have fake expectations about its results. Make sure to discuss all the details, leaving no room for misunderstandings between you and your potential customer.
Talk about the timeline, outcome, and scale of your offer. After all, your job is not just to sell the product but to convert the lead into a loyal customer. Here's how lead qualification questions can sound at this stage:
- What are your expectations out of this cooperation?
- When do you expect to see the first results from our collaboration?
- What would happen if [your offer] is successful?
- Why did you decide to go for [your offer]?
- What results will be satisfactory for you in one month/quarter/year of our cooperation?
- What results should absolutely be achieved and which ones are better to have?
- What would happen if you don’t solve [company’s need]?
Make the Most Out of the Best Sales Qualifying Questions
Lead qualification doesn’t require much time to apply but saves hours of worktime for your entire sales team. It serves as a filter for setting aside leads with the least potential of becoming a loyal client and helps to define those who will gladly collaborate with you at the right price.
Take advantage of the lead qualifying questions examples presented above and put them to use right away. Otherwise, contact CIENCE sales experts to qualify leads for you instead.