8 Sales Qualification Questions that will Help You Identify High-Intent Leads

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Even in the era of e-commerce and automated processes, many organizations depend on some form of person-to-person contact to make the final sale. That contact can take place in the real world or via some form of online communication, such as phone calls, video calls or the use of messaging apps. 

In many ways, the sales process has not changed, even with the advent of the digital era. It is still about connecting with people, identifying warm prospects, overcoming any objections and, finally, closing that deal to bring the person on board. There are great solutions that can identify sales prospects that match your company, but there will still be some work to do. 

However, some parts of that process, as with other areas of your business, have become easier with the introduction of digital tools, processes and automated systems. One hurdle is always separating the wheat from the chaff so you can focus on good prospects. 

Knowing the right questions to ask and when to ask them, is an integral part of the sales prospecting process. We look at eight of the best sales qualification questions to help you identify which prospects have the highest propensity to convert and close more deals.

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What are sales qualification questions? 

Not every lead generated by your marketing will lead to a sale (sadly). Sales qualification questions can help you identify which leads are warmer than others, and can also help you learn what those potential customers need to know so you can progress them through your sales funnel to the point of conversion. 

Most salespeople will have a fairly long list of leads. By using sales qualification questions, you can decide where they sit priority-wise. Is a customer a hot lead that could be closed quickly? Or are they only warm and may need some nurturing over time? You can’t focus all your attention on every lead, so using these questions will help you make important decisions. 

So, think of sales qualification questions as serving those two main purposes; when identifying good leads, you should focus your energy on and identify their needs and wants so you can provide them with the required info to make an informed decision. The answers they provide help you guide them better and make more accurate product recommendations. 


8 essential sales qualification questions


1. What problem are you looking to solve?

Most people are looking for a solution to an existing issue. It may be to replace an existing product or solution, or it may be to solve a new “problem.” Either way, establishing why the customer is looking for a specific product or solution can help you identify exactly what it is you can offer them. 

A customer may also have specific needs beyond the practicality of any solution. For example, they may need to meet ISO compliance, so be sure to investigate every aspect of their needs. 


2. Why are you looking now? 

The great thing about this question is it can establish some sense of the customer’s urgency. It can tell you whether they are looking to buy now—or in the very near future—or whether they are just looking to see what is on the market with the intention of buying at a later date. Knowing when they plan to buy can help you prioritize some customers over others. 

It may well be that they are changing their systems to be more automated. For example, a company may be looking to implement SaaS marketing automation or sales automation tools to improve its efficiency and productivity. 

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3. What will happen if you don’t choose to buy? 

This question can help you establish how important a buying decision would be for the customer. If the answer is along the lines of “nothing much,” then you know their need is not that great. This does not necessarily mean that you disqualify the lead, however. A good salesperson can build on this answer by explaining any potential issues that may arise. 


4. Have you looked at or tried other solutions? 

There is a good chance the customer has looked at some of your competitors. Getting an idea of what they have looked at and whether they have actually tried another solution can help you establish the chance of a sale. It can help you focus on what makes your products stand out and the advantages you can offer over previously tried or looked at solutions.  


5. What’s your budget? 

When you have a range of products or solutions, this question can help you see which ones fit within any customer’s budget. It can also help disqualify leads who have unrealistic budgets. There’s no point in spending a lot of time and energy on a lead when their maximum budget doesn’t come close to the cost of the cheapest solution you offer. 


6. Are you a decision-maker?

As you work your way through the various sales qualification questions, one thing you want to know is if you’re dealing with a decision-maker. They may have been assigned to find out some basic info, but you really want to focus your attention on someone who has the ability to make the purchasing decision. Ideally, you want that initial contact upgraded to someone who signs checks. 


7. What hurdles do you see to purchasing and implementing this solution? 

There are many scenarios where your solution (as is) will not be a perfect fit. By identifying what hurdles the customer envisages, you’re able to see whether those hurdles are surmountable or not. It may be that your organization can customize the product to suit the customer’s needs, but if there are major hurdles you cannot overcome, you can likely disqualify the lead. 

You need to ask what place any solution will have within their current business process. This not only establishes the viability of your solution but can also lead to cross-selling or upselling opportunities. 


8. What’s your timeframe for purchasing and implementation?

This is another sales qualification question that establishes the customer’s needs and urgency. It can also help identify how much priority you should give to the customer at this time. If it is something that they need quickly, you can schedule further meetings, maybe even in-person if viable and appropriate. 


The takeaway 

Identifying high-intent leads is a difficult and research-heavy process. Crunchbase’s all-in-one prospecting solution automates the prospecting process by surfacing accounts that match your ideal customer profile (ICP), along with contact data for decision-makers so you can reach out right within Crunchbase.

However, leads don’t mean guaranteed sales. By working your way through appropriate sales qualification questions, you can assign priority and schedule when you speak to those leads. Scheduling is essential as sales are fluid; one customer may want to buy in the next month while another may be looking a year or so ahead. 

Think of sales qualification questions as a map that can guide customers through your sales funnel to a sale. They can tell you when to act as well as what to say and can help you identify what information a customer needs to make a final decision. Incorporating the questions that suit your business best into any sales playbook you use can help customer engagement over time. 

Alister Esam is the CEO and Founder of Process Bliss, a workflow process software that is reinventing how businesses execute day-to-day tasks. He is an expert in strategic planning, business process management and business process optimization.

  • Originally published March 28, 2022