Pre-Qualified Leads: A Staple of Successful Sales Processes

If you ask SDRs about the difficulties they face during day to day prospecting, you would hear many recurrent challenges: rejection, market saturation, list exhaustion, bad data…It can go on and on.

I’m not going to sit here and help SDRs make excuses. There are steps you can take to make your team’s situation more palatable. Encourage SDRs to speak openly, and collaborate to broaden strategies and get people on the phone. Switch up your outreach methods and find that personalization sweet spot. Using positivity techniques will make your reps more chipper, more resilient, and more productive.

All things considered, the life of an SDR is still tough  –  it’s easy to burn out and let these challenges impact performance. Hearing “we’re all set, we use COMPETITOR X” over and over again is draining. A lack of quality contacts, or relying on data that leads you astray can force an SDR to spend hours doing research instead of outreach. Some of these difficulties are totally out of your control as an SDR, and it’s a grind to get through all of that to hear one “yes.”

What is in your control, and one of the biggest factors of SDR success, is data. Good data at the top of the funnel leads to more conversations and higher quality leads at the bottom of the funnel.

The question however, is how do we get that data? What kind of leads are we supposed to fill the top of the funnel with to get our desired results, and promote SDR productivity?

Hold onto your hats – I’m here to talk to you about the Pre-Qualified Lead.

Pre-Qualified Leads are a bit of a step up from your traditional MQL, but the two fall in the same category. Instead of pumping out content and getting hand-raisers, sourcing a Pre-Qualified Lead is a more active process.

Traditionally, an MQL self-selects by downloading content, attending an event, visiting your website, etc…the point is that they take an action, and that action is what gets them into the top of your funnel. From there, the SDRs sift through all inbound leads and start to qualify them for the sales team. They move into your ISQL stage, then SAL, SQL and eventually get handed over to the closing reps.

With Pre-Qualified Leads, the process is a bit different. Instead of leads self-selecting themselves, you’re selecting them based on a set of predetermined criteria.

Creating and maintaining an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) and custom qualification criteria enables you to filter through your database and pick out leads that are “pre-qualified,” in the sense that they’d be an ideal fit for your technology or service. Utilizing services like predictive modeling and combing through historical data will clarify which accounts are more likely to close, and consequently which accounts your SDR team should be focusing on. It’s the old adage of fishing with a spear instead of casting a wide net – you might catch less fish, but they’re the fish you want to eat.

All of this means that leads will enter the sales funnel with further qualification, which is traditionally an extra step your SDRs have to accomplish. Pre-Qualified Leads eliminate the grind of daily research and (often times) heavy account mapping, giving your team more time to qualify and pass opportunities to your closing reps.

The question now turns to how? The value is apparent, but getting those pre-qualified leads into your sales funnel becomes the challenge. Here are a few ways to generate Pre-Qualified Leads with little to no serious investment:

  • Incentivized Surveys: One of the easiest ways to generate Pre-Qualified Leads for your SDRs, incentivized surveys are a shotgun approach to finding your ideal accounts. Think of it as casting a wide net versus spear fishing (I know, we just talked about how that’s not what you want). By sending out surveys that contain prioritized qualification questions, you can sift through the responses to find the answers you’re looking for, and in the process identify the accounts you want to target. Incenting the survey will increase the response rate, and it doesn’t take a large monetary investment on your end.
  • Predictive Modeling: You have a ton of historical data that’s laying dormant in your CRM – it’s time to use it! By analyzing win / loss reports, ROI, recurring revenue, and a bevy of other metrics, predictive modeling tools can tell you what accounts are more likely to close and drive high profits. Accounts that already exist in your database could be “diamonds in the rough,” and re-focusing your SDR team on those prospects is equivalent to generating leads from an outside source. This also helps further develop your ICP to know what accounts to look for in the future.
  • Buy them!: It might be a bit of a cop-out, but plenty of companies out there sell Pre-Qualified leads (or the programs / tools to generate them for you) at reasonable prices. Working with these companies will help you further establish the qualification questions you need answered, develop (or improve) an ICP, and set-up a constant delivery of leads to your SDR team. It might be a little more costly, but the benefits start to outweigh those pretty quickly.

Giving your SDRs a list of Pre-Qualified leads will not only boost their morale, but their conversion rates as well. Create a well-oiled sales development machine and treat your reps to a pre-qualified list.

AJ Alonzo
AJ Alonzo
Director of Marketing

AJ is the Director of Marketing for demandDrive, a leading demand generation firm for tech companies in the Boston area. He's the main contributor to their blog and heads up all campaign creation for both inbound and outbound efforts. As someone relatively new to the marketing world, AJ is focused on creating content the resonates with established professionals and up-and-coming writers like himself.
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