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How to qualify B2B leads for better sales closing rates

Anastasia Belokopytova
Anastasia Belokopytova
Reading time:10 m

So, you’ve got 20, 50, 200 (or more) daily leads floating into your funnel. They’ve requested a demo and expect your sales reps to call and explain how your software or solution works. Say 13 are ready to buy right now and want to clarify a few things, but the other 50+ are just curious about what you do.

This is why sales managers should devise a lead qualification process — to spot hot, warm, and cold leads. In turn, sales reps will get a clear understanding of leads’ criteria they should pass on to sales executives.

Based on our 5+ years experience in B2B lead generation, including lead qualification service, we’ve compiled this guide to help you uncover:

  • How to set up a B2B lead qualification process with lead scoring
  • 3 modern lead qualification frameworks and their pros and cons
  • Examples of lead qualification questions
  • 3 must-have lead qualification tools

Let’s dive deep!

What is a sales-qualified lead?

A sales-qualified lead (SQL) exhibits the readiness and interest to buy your product. They match your ICP and buyer personas and can potentially convert into long-term and prospective customers. Put another way, SQLs have passed through the initial stages of your lead qualification process.

Why is it important to qualify leads?

Qualifying leads rather than hiring more salespeople and having them handle all clients from a demo request to closure is a better approach. Here’s why.

It improves sales efficiency

Account executives (AE) should work only with warm and hot leads to drive them to closure. When you have a great volume of inbound leads, it’s impossible and not sensible to dedicate one AE for each lead, as 79% of marketing leads (MQLs) never convert into sales.

Having sales development representatives (SDRs) for qualifying inbound leads will increase the efficiency and effectiveness of your sales department and translate into more revenue.

It increases closing rates

Why should your sales team chase after a company that doesn't need what you offer? Why invest time in preparing an extensive sales call only to discover the company isn't a good fit for your solution and they were just curious about your services?

Lead qualification ensures your sales reps focus on deals with the potential to generate revenue this month.

On top of that, B2B lead qualification will help you:

  • Build genuine connections and rapport with prospects, increasing the likelihood of securing higher-value deals and accelerating the closing process.
  • Collect invaluable customer data about competing solutions, jobs to be done, pain points, and even missing features. Use these insights to inform your product roadmap and tweak marketing strategies.

📚 Relevant article: Discover more tips on how to organize leads and streamline your pipeline visibility, as well as sales team performance.

Who is responsible for B2B lead qualification?

Marketing, pre-sales, and sales teams all play a role in the lead qualification process. They should collaborate to make timely updates to the scoring system, determine essential lead properties to capture, and more. If a sales team works in a silo, they might miss out on crucial information about their leads.

Roles-wise, sales reps are the ones in charge of discovery calls and advancing the lead down the sales funnel.

Note: If you don’t have capacity for lead qualification, you might consider outsourcing it to a sales development company. To make sure the vendor of your choice is a fit, check out their reviews on external platforms and case studies.

What does a B2B lead qualification process look like?

In a nutshell, the B2B lead qualification process includes 5 steps when building it from scratch:

  1. Defining your ICP and buyer personas.
  2. Laying out lead qualification criteria.
  3. Implementing lead qualification methods — CHAMP, SPIN, or MEDDIC.
  4. Sales reps conduct discovery calls and qualify leads.
  5. SDRs hand over leads to AE or disqualify and nurture them until they reach a tipping point.

Let’s break down the first two. Don’t worry, you’ll find the rest steps and how to put them into action later below.

1. Identify potential leads

Join forces with your marketing team and lay out your ICP and buyer personas. Think of traits your leads must have in common that indicate high-level interest and buying potential. Consider adding fields/objectives in your CRM lead records, such as:

  • Jobs to be done (JTBDs)
  • Company size
  • Company revenue
  • Country
  • Budget (for a solution/task they want to resolve, like ad budget, etc.)
  • Title
  • Competitors
  • Behaviors (e.g., pricing page views)
  • Lead source
  • Time frame (i.e., do they want to buy your product within a week, month, etc.?)

Choose properties wisely, as they can negatively impact your lead scoring if not well thought out.

2. Create a scoring and ranking system

A lead scoring system is a tool that assigns a particular score to each lead appearing in a CRM by a set of pre-defined criteria and their value. For example, if a record meets the criteria marked as positive, points are added to the score. 

CRMs like HubSpot, Salesforce, or Pipedrive allow users to create a scoring system and automatically prioritize leads in your pipeline. 

📌 Belkins tip: Create a lead scoring system that evaluates and assigns scores to each new lead based on criteria within reach of marketing and sales automation tools and your demo forms. For example, title, company size, lead source, tier, etc. This way, SDRs can see and contact high-value leads promptly. After that, sales reps discover missing information and fill out the rest of the fields in a record to get the final grade. 

After a lead is scored, SDRs can decide whether to move the lead further down the funnel and pass them on to account executives.

Lead scoring model example


3. Test your process on initial contact and discovery

The next step is to test your scoring system in the wild. You’ve got nothing specific to do here. Just let your SDRs contact prospects, fill out missing properties, and analyze whether the whole qualification process reflects the reality and the likelihood of leads converting into sales.

It might take one to three months to collect enough data before making any adjustments, so sit tight and rely on critical thinking and intuition when disqualifying leads.

With that, let’s delve into lead qualification tactics that help SDRs uncover prospects’ hidden pain points, objections, and more.

2 lead qualification frameworks for better closing rates

If you Google lead qualification methods, you’ll get an abundance of them —BANT, MEDDIC, SPIN, CHAMP,  and GPCTBA, to name a few. How do you know which method is the right choice for your company? These are the most flexible frameworks..


CHAMP is one of the most adaptable lead qualification frameworks, which stands for Challenges, Authority, Money, and Prioritization. It assists sales reps in building rapport and understanding a prospect's pain points, decision-makers, budget, and urgency. All that while maintaining a genuine, human-like approach instead of relying on template SDR tactics.

Let’s see how CHAMP works using a sophisticated example.

Imagine you're running a B2B company selling medical equipment — specifically, wound closure instruments. The prospect already knows which instruments they need and will share the full list of their properties right off the bat.

Your task is to test the water to see whether you can upsell them by offering more expensive brands, services, complementary stuff, etc.

Here's how you'd use the CHAMP framework:

  • Challenges: Discover your prospect’s pain points. If a client mentions the required instruments, ask politely why they decided to replace their supplier or prefer one brand over another. This way, you’ll uncover hidden needs and more profound concerns.
  • Authority: Figure out who has the power to make decisions. If it’s not that person, come up with a workaround to reach the decision-maker. You can ask directly, “Are you the person responsible for approving medical equipment purchases?” explaining that you can ship some samples of brand-new equipment right to the surgeons.
  • Money: Typically, you should find out the prospect's budget and whether they can afford your services here. With medical equipment, you can play around with budget-related questions to gauge the situation before offering more advanced and costly solutions.
  • Prioritization: Understand the prospect’s timeline with a question like, “Is it something you're looking into right now or more of a long-term plan?”

These questions serve as a lighthouse to navigate your discovery calls rather than a strict set of rules. Tweak and adapt them to impress a client by understanding their needs.


SPIN is a solution-focused sales technique that revolves around understanding a prospect's needs and engages a client in a dialogue full of empathy. It’s also the most agile lead qualification framework for enterprise sales and building long-lasting relationships.

Neil Rackham, a successful sales consultant and author, first introduced the term SPIN in his book SPIN Selling. If you’re not familiar with this method, we urge you to read the book. It's loaded with research and examples that show how different questions impact closing rates and check amounts.

Here’s an example of how to sell cold outreach automation tools by SPIN:

  • Situation: Begin by gathering information about the prospect's current situation. You could ask, “How are you currently managing your cold outreach efforts?” or “What tools or processes are you using for automating email campaigns?” or “Do you run only email campaigns or use LinkedIn for outreach too?”
  • Problem: Identify the challenges the prospect is facing with their current approach. “What is the most painful part in scaling your cold outreach?” or “Are you facing any issues with low response rates or high bounce rates?”
  • Implication: Help the potential client realize the repercussions of not addressing these concerns. For example, “How do these challenges impact your overall sales performance?”
  • Need-payoff: Show how your cold outreach automation tool can resolve their problems and the benefits it can bring. Here’s the trick. Instead of a direct sales pitch, you should make them consider the product by asking specific questions. “Apart from the tool, our customer agent can look through your outreach process and suggest improvements. If we manage to increase your appointment setting conversions by 10%, would it make a difference for your {{Client’s high-level need}}?”

Note how all questions are targeted to the desired outcome and current situation without much product selling.

Does BANT fail salespeople?

This wildly popular lead qualification framework offers to explore prospects’ Budget, Authority, Need, and Timing through pre-defined, forthright questions.

What’s your budget for the solution? Is it only you who is planning to use our product, or your colleagues too? When do you plan to implement this solution?

But when using the BANT method, personalization is not typically a priority. Given that 73% of customers seek empathy and expect companies to deeply understand their unique needs, the method might not be universal.

Also, knowing a prospect’s fixed budget limits salespeople to persuade higher tiers. To add insult to injury, companies often do have bigger budgets, but they don’t know that your solution can bring a high return on investment.

4 types and examples of lead-qualifying questions

This chapter goes over different lead-qualifying questions to get a feel for prospects’ budgets, urgency, and needs and understand who is responsible for making a purchase decision. Wave them naturally in your pitch so as not to come across as intrusive or annoying.

Budget-related questions

  • Do you already have a budget range in mind for this type of service?
  • Is there a specific price point you're trying to stay within?
  • If a higher tier potentially saves you X time and money in 3 months, would you go for it?
  • Are there any budgetary requirements we need to meet to be considered for this project?

📌 Example:

Salesperson: “Have you considered how much you're willing to spend on this project?”

Client: “Yeah, we've thought about it, but we're still trying to nail down the specifics.”

Salesperson: “That's totally understandable. I can help you with calculating ROI once we determine all the features to address your primary objectives.”

Authority-related questions

  • Who else might be interested in learning about our solution?
  • In case we need to get approval, who else should we loop in on our discussions?
  • Is there anyone else you'd like to invite to our next conversation?
  • Do you work with a committee or a specific individual for purchasing decisions?

📌 Example:

Salesperson: “Is there anyone else you'd like to invite to our following conversation? Maybe your boss or an entire team should see our solution in action too?”

Client: “Yeah, I think it'd be good to have our team lead join the call.”

Salesperson: “Deal! I'll be sure to send an invitation their way for our next meeting.”

Need-related questions

  • Can you tell me more about the specific goals you'd like to achieve with a new solution like ours?
  • What's motivating you to look for a solution like this?
  • Are there any features or capabilities that you consider a must-have for your team?
  • What aspects of your current setup are you looking to improve with our solution?
  • Is there anything that's been missing from other solutions you've tried or considered?

📌 Example:

Salesperson: “What aspects of your current setup are you looking to improve?”

Client: “We've noticed that our current system lacks the flexibility and integrations we need to automate some tasks, which costs us time and resources.”

Salesperson: “Got it. I'll be sure to focus on how our solution offers the flexibility and integrations your team needs to save time and work more efficiently.”

Timeline-related questions

  • Is there a specific deadline you're working toward for this project?
  • Is there an ideal time frame for you to decide on this?
  • When are you hoping to have a new solution in place?
  • Do you have any concerns about the implementation process and how it might impact your timeline?

📌 Example:

Salesperson: “When are you hoping to have a new solution in place?”

Client: “We're aiming to get something up and running within the next couple of months.”

Salesperson: “That sounds like a reasonable timeline. We have a decent onboarding process, including 2 hours of in-person training with our customer agent. Would it help you meet the goal?”

📚 Related post : Access 101 sales qualification questions by HubSpot.

Tools for lead qualification in B2B

Search for lead qualification tools online, and you’ll get exhausting articles with 14, 25, or more software. In reality, all you need is only 3 tools for inbound and outbound B2B lead qualification.

CRM — HubSpot

HubSpot CRM for lead qualification

HubSpot is the ultimate software for sales, marketing, and customer success teams, all in one place. As a CRM consulting agency, we recommend HubSpot to all our clients, as it allows you to set up and customize the lead scoring system, add unlimited properties to lead records, and display user behavior in a free plan.

By and large, HubSpot is a very versatile CRM with an abundance of customization options via API.

Alternatives: Salesforce, Pipedrive.

Marketing automation tools — Marketo

Marketto automation tool for lead qialification

Marketo is a popular marketing automation platform that offers a range of features for sales reps to streamline their lead qualification and lead nurturing processes. It comes with a lead scoring system and features for personalizing lead nurturing campaigns based on persona and buying stage. Marketo can track prospects’ interactions with your site, ad, email campaigns, etc. and qualify them based on those criteria.

Marketo also integrates with CRMs.

Alternatives: Pardot, ActiveCampaign

Prospecting — LinkedIn Sales Navigator

LinkedIn Sales Navigator for prospecting and lead qualification

Sales reps use LinkedIn Sales Navigator to qualify B2B leads for outbound campaigns. The tool comes with extensive 30+ filter options that let you create a super-detailed lead list:

  • Spotlights
  • Years of experience
  • Past lead activity
  • Seniority level
  • Posted content by keywords
  • Groups
  • Annual revenue
  • Headquarter location
  • Company headcount growth, to name a few.

Plus, you can sync LinkedIn Sales Navigator with HubSpot and see all the insights and update lead records directly from the CRM. 

Final thoughts

If you’re just developing your B2B lead qualification strategy, start small. Create as many properties in CRM records as possible to gather more data about your leads. After that, ask your sales reps what value they would assign to each property and why, considering deal closing rates. Now, roll out a lead scoring system and refine it over time.

Also, get your sales team to read SPIN Selling and try out new qualification methods. This will help you level up your discovery calls, increase revenue per lead, and shorten the sales cycle.

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Anastasia Belokopytova
Anastasia Belokopytova
BDR Lead at Belkins
Anastasia is an expert in B2B marketing with 6 years of experience specializing in lead generation, marketing automation, and sales enablement. She is a pro in international business communication. Anastasia's comprehensive approach to demand creation and empathy help her produce great outcomes and develop connection with customers.