Although online businesses can greatly benefit from qualifying leads &/or clients, offline businesses can also benefit. Successful business owners don’t spend time (or have their team members spend time) trying to sell to sales prospects that haven’t been qualified.
The day only has 24 hours and you must spend your work hours efficiently if you want to be able to enjoy your off-work hours. (or even have any off-work hours!)
Since I’ve been talking for qualification for about a month now, I’m starting to notice how all different types of businesses qualify their leads. Typically, you’ll think of questionnaires for online businesses and sales teams asking questions for offline businesses. But there are a few more. I’ve listed a variety below and I’m hoping it helps you see what businesses around you are doing.
If you get creative in the right direction for your business and branding, you can become really good at finding just the right folks for you to work with.
Website Qualification Questionnaire/Inquiry Form
Christine Thatcher is a talented graphic designer who offers a variety of services and teaches other designers how to handle their own design processes. Obviously, she’s busy and doesn’t need to deal with tire-kickers or people looking for a $50 logo.
First, she uses a BANT-based series of questions on her project inquiry form to find out more about her leads before she talks with them. She gets enough information about them so she can know if she can help them out.
Second, she offers a free 30 minute call. While I haven’t spoken with her, it appears she uses this as the next step in qualification. If a lead seems to be a good fit from her form answers, then the call can help Christine know if her personality will work well with that of the lead. Very smart. Although she is taking time to talk with folks, they are pre-qualified, and she’s limiting the time to 30 minutes and setting expectations well before the actual call.
Website Interactive Bot Qualification
Sure Languages, a translation company has an interactive take on the qualification questionnaire. They use a chat bot to conversationally run through qualification questions. A bit like a robot sales team member!
I’m fascinated with chat bots and how they’re used. I’m not yet using one, but I’m playing around with the idea. Many times I find them intrusive, and often when I do ask a question, the bot can’t give an answer and just says someone will get back to me. I realize those are poor implementations, though. THIS one, however, is so user-friendly that it even remembers you from a previous visit. I think this is a smart use for a bot and can potentially put a lead at ease, and hopefully can get better, more complete answers from leads.
Mortgage pre-approval and pre-qualification
When I tell people I’m writing about qualification, most everyone (including Google) jumps to mortgage pre-qualification. I think this is one of the more familiar qualification processes. Many Realtors and real estate agents won’t show you a house unless you’re pre-qualified for a big enough mortgage to purchase the house.
When I bought my first condo, I was surprised and a little insulted by this. Who are they to ask me about my finances? As a business owner, though, I completely get it. Tromping around looking at houses takes all day. A Realtor who wants to make money can’t spend time showing houses to people who can’t buy them.
This example is the first time home buyer page of a Realtor’s website. Listed are the steps for buying a first home – pre-approval and pre-qualification are listed before looking at houses. It’s really a win-win too. It’s tough to fall in love with a house only to find out that you cannot afford it.
New & Used Car Financing
Car dealers don’t make money on selling cars. They sell finance packages and maintenance plans. So, like the Realtors selling houses, they want to make sure test drivers can borrow enough money to purchase a car before them let them drive around.
Wheels & Deals in Atlanta, GA, knows this and leads not with a specific car ad, but with, “We approve all types of credit! Get approved today!” The call to action is a button that leads to a pre-approval form for a car loan. They only want to work with folks who can and will take out a loan to buy a car.
You Must Be This Tall to Ride
Here’s an entirely different example – qualification based on safety. You’ve seen these at amusement parks and on all sorts of jokes and memes, right? (I looked for one to put here and there are 1000s, but they’re not really funny…)
Frontier City, an Oklahoma City amusement park has height requirements listed on their webpage. I don’t know if anyone looks at the site before heading off to the park, but if they do, they can head off some disappointment. Getting to the front of the line and not being tall enough for the Diamondback is like touring your dream home and finding out you can’t afford it!
Now, your turn
If you look around, you’ll see that most businesses have a lead qualification process of some kind. For sure, some do it better than others, but if the business is making money, they’re likely to be qualifying well. Take inspiration from businesses you interact with and build out your own qualification process.