Modern lead qualification is all about sizing up the web traffic. Does the lead meet your BANT requirements? Are they ready to buy? Could they be convinced to buy with a little nudging? Today’s lead qualification focuses only on separating the juicy potential lead wheat from the chaff of unqualified internet traffic. But this is a uniquely seller-selfish point of view.
Traditional lead qualification methods focus on discarding anyone who does not fit into the right BANT statistics, and anyone who is not willing to share their email address on a dime. But in your ultimate goal of building strong customer relationships and building an ongoing brand community… is this really the right approach?
Tunnel-vision in lead qualification can result in lost opportunities, diminished customer reputations, and a tendency to get pushy with the select number of leads who do numerically “qualify”.
Today, we’re here to talk about how leads would prefer to to take disqualification into their own hands and how conversational marketing technology in the form of chatbots can help.
Leads Who Will Disqualify Want to Disqualify Quickly
One of the interesting things to note is that the leads are on your side when it comes to disqualification. Leads are not just customers lined up for the pitching.
They’re on their own journeys to find the right product or service on a schedule. The faster you can confirm or deny your ability to help them, the better. And non-customers will walk away happy that you pointed them in the right direction.
Let’s take a home painting business for example. They paint home interiors for homeowners, property managers, and landlords.
A customer who comes for commercial painting will quickly disqualify themselves and move on to a commercial painter.
A customer who wants a custom mural will quickly discover this is not what the painting company offers and move on.
These self-disqualifying customers save your sales team time and effort determining if they are real qualified leads or not. Especially if they fit 3/4 on the BANT ratings.
Your Team is Losing Time on Un-Qualifiable Leads
There is also a downside to forcing all leads to go through the same limiting qualification process. If each person must enter their email or fill out a form and wait to be contacted, that means your sales team is putting effort into every single potential lead. Including the 50% or more who will not ultimately convert.
Leads who can find their own information through your website, help platform, and chatbot can also helpfully disqualify themselves if the eventual answer to a deal-breaker question is “No”, if your prices are too high, or if you don’t actually offer service in their area.
When procedural FAQs and simple answers can help to trim your list of leads, your team can save weeks of work time each year focusing only on leads with higher potential.
Don’t Leave Disqualified Leads Hanging
An interesting question in this environment is what to do once a lead has been identified as a dud. If someone fails the BANT requirements or openly says they don’t plan to buy after all… what is a sales team to do? All too often, sales associates prioritize their time over all things and “ghost” the dropped lead.
Ghosting is the act of ceasing all communication suddenly and refusing to answer any additional messages. Even if this is the most efficient answer, it’s also rude and disconcerting.
Your disqualified leads deserve to have conversations respectfully wrapped up. And if you have any additional advice on who to seek to truly fill their needs, offer it.
This is one of the best things you can do to help a disqualified lead and build your reputation in an audience wider than your buying customer base.
Self-Service Conversational Marketing Technology
In the past self-service lead qualification has not been a popular option despite the fact that leads want to qualify and disqualify themselves. This is because filling out a form feels impersonal and somehow unfriendly no matter how well-built that form is.
FAQs and Help documentation have had better luck helping leads find the answers to their deal-breaker questions before they get in contact with a sales associate. But a recent business tech trend is the real solution to self-service lead qualification that feels personal with machine-like efficiency: Chatbots.
Conversational marketing, the technology of chatbots, is an even cross between customer service and self-service. A well-designed chatbot can provide courteous assistance and the answers to many informational questions without actually taking up the time of a human sales associate. The chatbot can also just as easily flag a lead who is ready to qualify or who needs advanced help to spend valuable time with a human associate.
Leads also feel comfortable asking a chatbot specific or repetitive questions that they might not want to ask a human.
People are often shy, for example, to share a long list of food allergies and are aware that asking a sequence of procedural questions can be annoying for a sales agent. Even if it’s part of the job. But a chatbot doesn’t mind and will stay cheerfully helpful while the customer takes care of their own information gathering due diligence.
Only after the lead is sure that your company is a good fit, by talking to the chatbot, do they need to flag the attention of a human sales associate to guide them through the conversion process.
Self-Disqualifying on the Lead’s Own Terms
Of course, chatbots can also help your leads to disqualify themselves in a satisfactory manner. Instead of falling below BANT requirements and getting ghosted, leads speaking to a chatbot can fully explore their options and decide whether or not to buy in their own time. The chatbot can offer considering leads a wealth of information about the company and the products or services available. And through that conversation, leads will have time to decide if your service is a good fit.
Both you and the customer win when a lead self-disqualifies, for two separate reasons. First, the lead disqualifies on their own terms. They feel powerful as the one to walk away from the table. And with a chatbot, they can explore and disqualify without ever taking up someone’s time.
You win because the valuable time of a sales associate was not distracted on a non-converting lead. Your sales associates were focusing on people already in the funnel while leads who would never qualify are showing themselves quite happily to the door.
Building a Reputation with UnQualified Leads
Finally, there’s the value of leads who did not qualify. Most lead qualification methods discard these disqualified leads, but they are still people. In fact, they are people who are very close to your target demographic, know people in your demographic, and may become customers in the future when circumstances change.
Disqualified leads aren’t worthless to you, they’re actually very important.
You need to be able to gracefully let them go full of useful information and to build a good reputation with people who may qualify successfully in the future.
By allowing your leads to disqualify with chatbot self-service, your brand puts on an eternally cheerful and helpful face. Leads can talk to your friendly chatbot and choose to proceed or not on their own terms. This also leaves the door open so that if your services fit their needs in the future, you’ll be ready to receive having never done anything so gauche as ghosting.
A good reputation with your disqualified leads can result in recommendations, future customers, and a valuable greater reputation in the industry.