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The Complete Guide to Lead Qualification

No matter how fantastic your product or service is, it’s not going to be the right fit for every company at every time. Sell strategically by determining which companies you can create value for, and focus your efforts there.

To ensure you are using your time most efficiently, make lead qualification and the discovery call a habit. The discovery call is your opportunity to ask a prospect purposeful questions in order to determine whether it makes sense to invest your time into an account. It's a simple way to initialize lead scoring schemes.

In this post, we will highlight the importance of sales qualification, the thought process behind qualifying a lead, and why you shouldn’t be afraid of disqualifying a lead that’s not worth your time. Leverage open data insights through Vainu to supplement this process.

Qualifying is all about gathering the insights necessary to make a solid judgment on whether or not to invest time into an account.

What’s the benefit to qualifying leads?

Simply put, you should qualify a lead in order to understand the sales process on the customer’s end. This ensures that you won’t be caught off guard by a lack of budget, or that the deal won’t fall through due to a complicated legal process on the client side. When the factors relate more to the account than to the person, this process is called account scoring (more on that behind the previous link).

Remember, it’s your job to do your due diligence through lead qualification - you’ll be happy that you did!

  1. Focus on the companies that are most likely to buy. It may seem like common sense, but don’t waste time trying to sell to a company without budget. It’s also best to avoid spending time on companies that won’t see value from your product or service. In both cases, the probability of closing a deal is quite low.
  2. Pitch the right companies more successfully. Understanding why a prospect is a qualified lead allows you to tailor your pitch more specifically and in effect, increase your chances of winning business. With qualifying questions, you can gain insights into the pain points of the sales process on the client side and from there, present a solution to these challenges in your pitch. You are not only presenting a value proposition, but also communicating that you understand the core of what they do.
  3. Make qualified estimates of deal size and expected closing time. Lead qualification allows you to mitigate risk of unexpected and unappreciated surprises in the last stages of the sales process, when attempting to close a deal.

Understanding your business and your target group. Why?

A salesperson must understand the target customers that would see the most value from the product or service they are selling. Understanding your own business and additionally, your Ideal Customer, will enable you to make smarter judgements on which companies are the best match for what you provide.

Many salespeople are reluctant to disqualify prospects and shrink their pipelines - let’s change this mindset. It’s much more effective to focus on a smaller number of high-quality leads rather than spreading yourself thin amongst a large pipeline that may not be an ideal match for your product or service.

There’s more to lead qualification than simply making sure a company falls within your defined target group. While a company may seem like a good fit at first glance, there are several factors behind the scenes that may impact your chances of closing a deal. Qualification questions allow you to understand how solid a prospect actually is.

For example: if a decision maker has just signed a deal with one of your competitors, it won’t be a good use of your time to call on that account.

The questions you are asking to qualify a lead will differ from organization to organization. They should be based around confirming that an account falls within the tried-and-true characteristics of your Ideal Customer Profile. However, there are four solid topics to cover in a discovery call that are fairly universal.

The Ultimate Guide to Sales Prospecting

What are the 4 topics to touch on when qualifying leads?

  • Budget. Does the company have enough money in the bank to pay for what you’re selling?
  • Authority. Does your Point of Contact have adequate authority to sign off on a purchase?
  • Need. Is there a pain-point that you can help solve? If so, will the Decision Maker acknowledge this business pain and be ready to invest in solving it?
  • Timeline. What is the customer’s business process? What is an accurate timeframe to close a deal?

What should be avoided in qualification?

Let’s straighten one thing out - a discovery call should not be an interrogation.

Rapid-fire questioning typically does not work when engaging with a prospect. Weaving qualifying questions into the natural fabric of conversation is much more effective. Keep in mind that in this process, you don’t have to uncover each and every detail of a target account, your ideal customer profile, to determine whether the fit is right. Your aim should be to gain enough insight to make an educated guess on whether to spend time reaching out.

It’s not about knowing the most, it’s about knowing the right information.

Where do open data insights come into play?

Exponential amounts of information are available to you on the web, thanks to the ever-increasing amount of open and public data. It is easy to find out, for example, if a company is using a competitor’s service or if they tend to have positive attitudes toward adopting new technologies. Make use of this data to pre-qualify a lead, even before a discovery call.

Vainu uses a web-indexing technology to collect information on over 100 million companies globally, pairing and matching that information back to the company profiles in our robust database. We provide additional information on company characteristics and features when diving deeper into the specific company profile.


Find e.g. recent buying signals, information about a company’s tech stack and its basic characteristics at the company card in Vainu.

Bottom line: using Vainu’s insights and open data enables you to stock your pipeline with pre-qualified leads, letting you know which companies to reach out to and which to drop.

Topics: Ideal Customer Profile, Account Scoring

Erika Granath

Vainu's Content Marketing Manager. Grew up next to Sweden's largest cookie factory. Love cookies (of course), ping pong tournaments and word jokes.