You are sitting with a long list of potential customers in front of you. You probably don’t work through it, starting from the top and working your way down in alphabetical order. You probably start with those that give you a good gut feeling. To whom do you give your extra attention? And why? This is how you prioritise correctly in the qualification process.

A lead is a company or organisation that has been in touch with you in some way and shown an interest in you. It could be someone who only visited your homepage, downloaded your material a few times or perhaps someone who contacted you directly to see what you have to offer. In other words: leads can come in different forms and shapes, and have shown different degrees of commitment, involvement and dedication. But all of them are worthy of your time in one way or another and are to be contacted. How much time and effort you put into it depends on several things:

When “wow” pops into your mind, it’s a good sign that the customer is qualified

When you sit with your list of leads, you probably recognise some of the names. Perhaps one is a well-known company and you think “wow, so awesome that they contact us”. There could also be names on the list that don’t ring a bell but then turn out to be major players in a certain industry. That’s when a “wow” pops into your mind and you raise your eyebrows in astonishment when you sit in front of your computer screen.

It could feel a bit shallow, but it’s common for sales people to give well-known and large companies extra attention. The reason is very simple: the odds that they are a qualified company are higher. Their budget is likely to be higher and their needs are probably huge, which makes them more qualified customers than companies with narrower frames. Provided your company can meet their demands, of course.

How your leads act determines the effort you put in

When you initiate contact with a potential customer, you quickly get an idea of how interested the person really is. Mr. Watts might think that your product or service sounds moderately interesting, but hasn’t decided whether his company needs your services or products. Mrs. Taylor, however, is already familiar with the industry and knows that her company will procure the kind of product or service that your company is selling – and it’ll be in the near future.

Both parties need your attention, but who do you put more effort into? Probably Mrs. Taylor. That’s not because her business is more important than that of Mr. Watts (he might sign a huge deal later on), it’s because of the situation she is currently in. You understand that she will read every word you provide her – whilst Mr. Watts will only skim through your information. That is why you should prioritise accordingly.

If there is no tugging on the fishing line, you’ll have to try your luck elsewhere

Although all leads should be contacted, there are some cases where you have reason to put your time and effort into someone else. Often you can already tell by your gut feeling, as you don’t get any interest in return. As a wise colleague once told me: “To follow up leads is a bit like fishing – there has to be some tugging on the line for it to be interesting”. If not, you have to try your luck somewhere else!

Let’s look at an example. You call a lead and the person asks you to e-mail the information instead. For you to know that your time could potentially lead to something more than just an e-mail you should get them to answer the questions what, when and why. If you don’t get a response, the person is not really interested and you can put your time into more important things.

To finish off, we can establish that all leads are worth your time, only different amounts of it. Some deserve all of your attention, whilst some shouldn’t even get an e-mail. It depends on the companies’ sizes and how established they are, as well as how interested they are in your products and services. Make sure you have full control of your leads and how they interact with your company! Only then can you prioritise your to-do list.