Your time is money, and to properly manage the former and increase the latter, it’s essential to focus on the customers that are most likely to complete a transaction with you: your qualified leads. Qualified leads are those prospects who are ready, willing, and able to buy your product or service. These are the customers you should be spending your time and marketing budget on.
Unqualified leads have a high customer churn rate — also called attrition, or the rate at which you lose customers — because they aren’t yet ready to pull the trigger on the transaction. Narrowing your focus to qualified leads means you end up serving and nurturing the relationships that are most likely to turn into a closed deal.
How do you determine if someone is a qualified lead? It’s not always easy to tell, but there are some signs you can look for. Qualified leads are further along in their buyer journey than unqualified ones and are ready to complete a sale. They fit perfectly into your buyer persona profiles and are likely to talk with a sales rep.
Once you have separated your leads into these categories, it will be easier for you to focus on the ones that will pay off for you. So, what to do about the other, unqualified leads?
Yes, you really can decide not to work with someone. You may think it’s taboo to turn away clients, but giving yourself permission to say “I don’t think I’m a good fit for you right now” protects your time, your budget — and possibly your reputation. After all, if expectations are misaligned between you and a potential client, it could lead to missed deadlines, frustrating meetings, negative reviews on Yelp or Zillow, and more unwanted outcomes.
What to Do With Unqualified Leads
Remember, these aren’t bad leads; they’re just unqualified. When you tell a client you’re not the right fit at this time, that doesn’t mean you’ll never be. Use this opportunity to assign them to an automated lead-nurturing campaign, where you develop your relationship over time by sending out informative and educational materials on a regular basis. For instance, send a regular monthly newsletter and follow up with a call after they’ve received a few.
If most of your leads are unqualified, then it’s time to reassess and make some adjustments. Getting lots of poor-quality leads doesn’t necessarily mean you’re putting out poor marketing. It could be outstanding marketing that’s just going to the wrong people. The best way to improve is to stop thinking about what you want to achieve and start thinking about the clientele you want to attract and how you can answer their pain points. Don’t go for one-size-fits-all marketing; target your messages to a specific audience — specifically, those who represent your ideal customer.
To define your ideal customer, look at the customers who have closed with you in the past. What is their age, income, lifestyle? What type of expertise were they looking for from you? You might have a few different buyer personas that make up your ideal customer base. For example, one persona might be a retiree looking to build a luxury home, while another is a 30-something young professional just starting a family. Dig into the data you already have to uncover key insights about your target customer so you can focus your efforts on the right people.
Having a lead-qualification process is going to save you time and frustration, and will keep you focused on the leads that are most likely to convert. It will allow you to sort the leads you receive into their proper categories and then market to them most effectively. Set up a list of essential questions to ask on that initial call with clients to help you sort your leads into their proper categories.
For example, if you’re a real estate agent, your lead-qualification questions might look something like this:
When you standardize your lead-qualification questions, you’ll have an easier time sorting leads into qualified and unqualified, and you’ll know which marketing strategy to choose for each one.
By focusing your energy on qualified leads, you’ll be working smarter, faster, and more efficiently. When your time is money, every moment counts.