Michael Maximoff
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Qualifying Leads For Appointment-Setting Success

MQL, SQL…Some people who are only starting with their B2B lead generation marketing efforts are probably thinking that appointment-setting involves complicated programming languages. Worry not, you won’t need lots of software to score at appointment setting. However, you do need a deeper knowledge of leads and how to ensure that only the most relevant sales leads are flowing through your pipeline.

We always mention taking pride in our sales leads and how thoroughly we qualify them. Now it’s high time to talk about qualified leads and the processes that help you generate those.

What is a qualified sales lead (SQL)?

Business leads are like mushrooms. Some of them are simply delicious and truly enriching, others are very specific and not necessarily good for you, and there are also ones that can poison your Sender Score, domain health, and reputation because you’re not careful. So, blindly gathering leads from pre-made databases is not the way to go. You need a sharp-eyed, quick-thinking expert to sift through your findings and say, which b2b leads can be processed further and which ones should be left alone.

So, let’s say, your marketing department finds a prospect, a very promising one. But instead of instantly launching an outreach campaign, you show that prospect to your sales team. Your sales team then does a little research to see if that lead has problems and pain points that are covered by your product.  In case there is a fit, the sales team adds this prospect to their “to contact” queue, and that lead becomes a qualified sales lead.

What are MQL and SQL?

With SQL sorted out, let’s talk about the next mysterious abbreviation. An MQL is a “marketing qualified lead,” meaning it’s a prospect that looks like a great sales opportunity but hasn’t been yet approved by sales reps. Every MQL is delivered by a marketing team via various channels but requires some research and fit-finding before it’s turned into an SQL and added to the sales queue.

How to Qualify Leads

Well, that was easy! Now, however, you might have a question — where do MQLs and SQLs come from? Do marketing teams and sales teams qualify leads differently? Why should it matter?

First of all, there is more than one way to qualify a lead. Each method is focused on a different set of metrics, providing different insights. So, if you want to be truly confident about the quality of leads you’re generating, you need to master lead scoring and several qualification frameworks.

Lead Scoring

Some leads work for you better than others. New business lead scoring allows you to find those leads by rating them from “soon-to-be customer” to “needs nurturing” and developing a scoring system, so your sales reps could remember their priorities.

How do you score your leads?

Figure out your metrics. What are the defining features that tell you “Yes, this lead is good”? Company size? Industry? Their profit levels? Location? Rate all components by value and start ticking boxes whenever you find a new lead.

Create a scoring system. Assign positive or negative scores based on your criteria and then assign points to the leads. Feel free to choose anything you and your teams are comfortable with, but we suggest using this model.

  • Create multiple buyer personas. You must know that your target audience is not a hivemind. Different buyer groups have different priorities and behaviors. To make sure that you get qualified sales leads from each segment, you have to include those buyer personas to your research.
  • Define the threshold. Following your system, define the number that means “ready for engagement”. It’ll let your sales reps and marketing teams stay on the same page and prevent them from pitching too early.

Qualification methods

Getting qualified b2b outside sales leads means getting in touch with your potential buyers and getting some more specific information about their business and troubles. When we send our introduction email, we invite our prospects to “meet and see if there is a fit.” It means that we want to meet our leads and ask several questions. The key to success is knowing what to ask. Luckily, there are multiple qualification methods to help us out.

BANT method

The BANT method is the baseline for your lead qualification because it lets you outline several points that will define the potential for a B2B relationship.

Each of those criteria let your sales reps define whether the prospect’s needs align with yours. For example, there is no point in nurturing a lead whose budget doesn’t match your pricing or a prospect who won’t be using your services this year.

How do sales reps qualify with BANT?

Once upon a time, they used to make cold calls and ask. However, such a strategy has aged poorly. Nowadays, it’s research and communication. The invention of the internet made it much easier for people to access information and connect through mutual interests. Therefore, modern sales pros start with exploring the lead’s LinkedIn page, then the company’s business site, Google MyBusiness profile, reviews, etc. Once they’re done, they continue with email outreach, inviting prospects to chat and find out if there is a fit. There are 2 most important things to remember regarding this approach:

Always make sure that your prospects expect your call and know you’ll be asking questions.

  1. Don’t be too direct with your questions. Asking “So, how big is your budget?” is extremely poor taste. Use your words with surgical precision.

SPIN method

Introduced in the 70s by Neil Rackham, the SPIN method is based on instantly jumping to discussing a very particular problem your prospects might be experiencing.

The obvious benefit of the SPIN method is that it allows you to avoid beating around the bush, avoid bothering your prospects with financial questions and start asking about what they care about — the problem and the solution. 

Additionally, you can never go wrong with asking your prospect what’s going on. Something is always going on in the busy world of B2B. Therefore, whenever you ask your prospects what’s up, they’re quite likely to have a story to tell.

Want to pick out the healthiest sales leads? You can’t do it without MEDDIC. This method is a lot more detailed than BANT or SPIN, but it pays off with tons of useful information.

The MEDDIC approach is great for the B2B sector since it lets you harvest massive amounts of business information thus correctly identifying your prospect’s place in your sales funnel and letting you map your course of action (nurture or sell). This approach is particularly important if your clients need some transformation and/or training before they can enjoy all the benefits of your solution.

CHAMP method

Much like SPIN, the champ method lets you skip long introductions and speak about the thing that is on the top of your prospects’ minds — their challenges. Within this framework, you reach out to your prospects to converse on the following matters:

Many sales experts consider CHAMP to be a better, improved go-to version of sales qualification because it addresses needs first and budget second. When you start your conversation with “What do you need right now?” your prospects will be more open to the idea of having more meetings with you, not to mention discussing such topics as budget and decision-making hierarchy.


Another unorthodox way to kick off the sales conversation, ANUM persuades you to start with exploring the authority of your sales lead. Only after establishing your lead’s position and influence in the decision-making process, can you proceed with clarifying other matters that affect your prospects’ purchase process.

Using ANUM can be awkward for some sales reps. After all, such questions as “Are you the boss here?” do sound odd. This is why phrasing is important though. By carefully asking around, you can outline the hierarchy within your prospect’s company and improve your targeting without wasting time on dead-ends.

Free Guide: How to Create an Effective Ideal Customer Profile

So, now you know how to diversify your BANT lead qualifications with SPIN, ANUM, and CHAMP. However, before you go out there and start asking qualification questions, you should know who you’ll be asking those questions to. No worries, though! Our comprehensive guide on building the perfect Ideal Customer Profile is here to help you out.

Michael Maximoff

Co-founder and Managing Partner at Belkins
Mike has more than 10 years of experience in the digital marketing and technology sector selling to SMB internationally. Michael leads Belkins' sales force and is responsible for biz development and new partnerships.
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