You cannot turn every lead into a customer. Some leads are not a good fit for your product or service. People don’t become customers just because your offering happens to meet their needs. A number of factors will drive them to become buyers, some of which are more important than others. 

Sales qualification is part of the sales process. You start with an ideal customer profile and then compare the lead’s characteristics to that profile. If they’re a good fit, then you move forward and try to qualify the lead further. If they’re not a good fit, then you probably shouldn’t waste your time or theirs by trying to sell them your product or service.

Sales most often occur when you provide the right solution that solves the right problem for the right buyer at the right time. This requires determining where you can align your solution to their problem. It begins with asking the right questions to decide if  the lead is a fit for your offering and also ready and capable of buying.

Let’s dive into asking the right lead qualification questions for your startup.

Quick takeaways: 

  • As an early-stage startup, do some investigative work to guide your questioning
  • As an early-stage startup, rely on historical sales data to focus your questions
  • Use lead qualification questions that enable you to efficiently categorize leads 

Qualifying Leads as an Early-Stage Startup 

As an early-stage startup, a key problem is lack of customer data. You often have to figure out what a potential customer would want before you have data on what they actually want. You might think you know why someone would purchase your product or service, but your biases could get in the way. Qualifying leads will often take investigative work before you can hone in on the ideal customers.

When speaking with leads:

  • Figure out how your solution maps to the customer’s situation now
  • Ask questions about their current problems, and listen for cues that you could tie into your solution
  • Ask about their successes and issues with their current solution, and identify where your offering can improve upon those areas
  • Ask the lead about their view of their market and environment to identify areas of opportunity
  • Look for opportunities to improve the lead’s situation in key areas (e.g., efficiency, cost, revenue)

Lead Qualification Questions

As a late-stage startup, you should have collected sales data and received feedback from customers on your product or service. Use this information to determine your ideal customers. This will enable you to focus on higher quality leads. You can also use this data to guide your lead qualification questions. 

When speaking with leads:

  • Use historical sales data to determine which features or benefits were most compelling to customers 
  • Focus on engagement drivers (e.g., cost, performance, security)
  • Use questions and issues brought up by current customers to address potential issues with leads
  • Select two or three key benefits to determine a lead’s interest and guide your questioning

Lead Qualification Questions

The goal of asking lead qualification questions is to make sure a lead is a good fit for your product or service. The following questions will help direct the right leads to the next stage in your sales funnel

  • What business problem are you trying to address?
  • Why are you trying to find a solution right now?
  • What solution are you using right now? Why are you planning to change offerings?
  • What has prevented you from finding a solution until now?
  • What solutions have you attempted in the past? Why didn’t they work?
  • What would happen if you maintained the status quo?
  • Do you have a budget to purchase a new solution?
  • What is involved in making the decision to purchase a new solution?
  • What is your current budget or cost for doing things the way you are doing things now?
  • Have you tried similar solutions in the past?
  • What challenges could interrupt your switch to a new solution?
  • What other solutions are you considering?
  • How would you measure success when finding a solution?
  • How will finding a solution affect you and your role?
  • What is your timeline for finding a solution?
  • When would you like to set an appointment to discuss the next step?
  • How do other members of your team feel about your current solution?
  • How would this solution affect your daily activities?

Asking the Right Lead Qualification Questions

Asking the right questions when qualifying leads is crucial to building your startup’s sales pipeline. This will help your startup sales team identify the right leads for your solutions at the right time, which will increase the probability of turning them into buyers.

Ready to improve your lead qualification process that will help your startup grow? Let’s talk!