Published on
January 18, 2021

Most B2B leads won’t convert into new business. 

In fact, according to conversion specialists Invespcro, as many as 80% of new leads never translate into sales. 

In this article, we explore how you can identify the leads that will become sales opportunities, to help you prioritize your efforts and resources, and avoid wasting your time on leads that aren’t going anywhere. 

Inbound Leads

Inbound leads are great, aren’t they? 

  • The demo requesters

  • The Contact Us form fillers

  • The webinar attendees

  • The whitepaper downloaders

  • The free trialers

In other words: the prospects who are actively browsing for a solution, and have engaged with you as a result of your marketing activities.

Who doesn’t like inbound leads.

Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs), as they’re otherwise known, are the bread and butter for many companies when it comes to generating new business.

But not all leads are created equal.

Outbound Leads

For companies without a reliable source of inbound leads, a more direct and proactive approach - i.e. outbound lead generation - may be needed to connect with prospective clients.

Typical outbound methods include:

  • Email outreach

  • Social media outreach

  • Cold calling

  • Sales letters

  • Attending trade shows

Let’s also not forget what is perhaps the most effective way of finding new clients: word of mouth

A staggering 91% of B2B purchases are influenced by word of mouth, according to Convince & Convert.

Which Ones are the Real Deal?

It’s fair to say that there are many types of leads, as well as plenty of methods for generating more.

But if an inbound lead, an outbound lead, and a word-of-mouth lead walked into a bar, what would each of them order?

Well, you won’t know until you qualify them. 

Sales Qualified Leads

The initial phase of the sales cycle is often called the Discovery phase and is arguably the most important. 

This is your opportunity to understand the goals of your prospective clients and the challenges they’re facing, along with how - and if - you can help them.

And when you do identify an opportunity for your business during the Discovery process, you will have yourself a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL).

Scratching the Surface

Yet, even if you do actively seek to qualify leads in the early stages of the sales cycle, it’s an easy mistake to just scratch the surface during this phase. 

This can often mean finding out much later in the sales process - and sometimes after holding additional calls, issuing proposals, or doing demos - that your product or service isn’t really what the prospect is looking for.

Under-qualified leads can result in a huge amount of wasted time and effort, not to mention the financial impact of spending your time on opportunities that probably won’t convert.

If that’s a pain point for you, you’re not alone.

According to Business 2 Community, 67% of lost sales are as a result of sales reps not properly qualifying their potential customers before taking them through the full sales process.

Why Discovery Calls Prevail (Over Emails and DMs)

Therefore, once a lead has been generated, the priority is to arrange a call or virtual meeting as a first step.

Granted, sales outreach via email and social media can be extremely effective for making initial contact with prospects - as we touched on earlier in this article - and for gathering some basic qualifying information.

However, you will discover far less information in an exchange of messages than you would on the phone or a video call. 

The flow of a good conversation will help you uncover crucial information about your prospect’s situation. You can do this by digging deeper into topics throughout your calls, in response to how they respond to your questions. 

This is how you can truly begin to make an impression and to determine if the lead is sales-ready (or not). 

Preparing for Your Discovery Calls

Once your prospects are ready to speak, use the following 5 key objectives to help structure the preparation and questions for your Discovery calls.

You need to:

  1. Qualify if their interest is real and understand their current situation. What are their goals?

  1. Delve into their pain points and the impact of those challenges on their business

  1. Provide industry stats/research and sector-specific insights to demonstrate credibility

  1. Match and align your solutions (products/services) to their challenges and goals (at a high level) and handle any initial objections

  1. Determine their buying and decision-making process, along with who else is involved  

Sell Time, Not Products and Services

A thing to remember in this Discovery phase is that you're not really selling your products or services yet. 

You’re listening, you’re understanding, and you’re taking notes. You’re demonstrating that you’re interested in them and that you want to help

But what you most definitely are selling during these early sales calls is a next step, as long as there is an opportunity for your business. 

Typical next steps include:

  • Another call

  • A meeting

  • A demo

  • A presentation

  • Any of the above with additional stakeholders also joining

That list could also include the prospect agreeing to review and respond to a proposal you send. 

You’re selling time. You’re asking for a commitment from them to spend more time either with you, or on an activity that relates to you and your business.

For you, a next step is one step closer to a closed-won deal. And for them, it’s one step closer to understanding exactly how you can help them.

Going Further

How you conduct your Discovery calls will dictate how interested your prospective clients are in spending more of their time with you, so getting the sales qualification process right is critical. 

After all, no one wants to waste their time, which includes both you and your prospects. 

If your business needs help finding and qualifying more sales opportunities, we'd love to hear from you. Get in touch with us here to discuss your situation.

Joe the author

By Joe Ogden, founder at Discoveroo. Joe has worked in enterprise sales for Autodesk, Snow Software, and in business development on behalf of Dell Boomi.

You can find him on LinkedIn and Twitter.