Qualified Lead: What’s it mean?

“Just give me a hot lead. Just give me two of the premium leads.”

All sales leads are not created equal. Who can forget Glengarry Glen Ross and the premium Glengarry leads?

Sales reps we’re willing to commit practically any [illegal] act to get their hands on the premium Glengarry leads. Glengarry leads spelled success.

Do you have premium sales leads? You know, the ones that are pre-wired for upside revenue?

If you’ve never seen a premium lead, go to a B2B tradeshow and watch sales reps work their booths. The garden-variety leads are the ones reps put into a box that gets shipped back to corporate for processing. (Think: the final scene of Indiana Jones and The Raiders of the Lost Ark).

The premium leads are the ones Sales Reps put in their pockets.

It takes sales reps just a few minutes to figure out if a contact is ready and able to become a customer. The “figuring out” part is a sales rep’s qualification process. They know the questions to ask and how deeply to probe. They’re masters at separating tire-kickers, stealth competitors and students from those who have the potential of becoming customers.

What makes a lead “premium?”

The difference between a sales lead and a premium sales lead (in Glengarry Glen Ross terms) is: Qualification. Premium leads are qualified leads.

Once qualified, a contact will be passed along to your sales reps or nurtured by your marketing department.

But can you take what a sales rep does naturally and teach it to others? Meet John Coe—Database Marketing Guru.

In John’s book, The Fundamentals of Business-to-Business Sales and Marketing—Sell More, Spend Less!, he shares the four factors of a qualified lead:

The BANT Process: Qualified Sales Leads


BANT: Budget, Authority, Need, Timing (or Timeline).

1. Need
What are the needs or conditions that have to exist BEFORE your product or service would valuable to a potential customer?

2. Budget
How much money must be available in the customer’s budget to buy your product or service?

3. Authority
Does this person have the authority or can they get approval to make a buying decision?

4. Timing
Does the timing of the purchase fall within the timeline of the sales rep’s commission plan? If it does not, sales reps will have little incentive to pursue the lead. [Go ahead and argue with me on this point…but you’ll lose.]

Definition: Qualified Lead

A qualified lead is a person:

  • With need, budget and buying authority.
  • Working for a company that meets your customer profile for being a customer.
  • With a buying timeline that falls within the time horizon of the sales rep’s commission plan.

It only takes a few minutes for a true sales professional to qualify a contact. And they can do it anywhere—at a busy tradeshow or on a golf course. The real trick is teaching the process to everyone in your company—especially your marketing team.

  • http://www.oneclickcommissions.com/mkp.html Michael

    Your BANT acronym gives a pretty clear evaluation when identifying leads. The only thing that threw me (well, my OCD) was that 5 grey bodies are on the BANT image while there should only be 4.

    Great article though!


  • John Fox

    @Michael: you have sharp eyes… you saw more detail than I intended. Next edit to this page, I’ll fix that image. Thanks for pointing that out.

  • Ben

    Yes, leads that want what you’re selling are better than ones that don’t. This is not information that warrants an acronym and a graphic. Your audience is adult professionals in the B2B marketing industry…Do you assume that a single member of your target audience needed an acronym to wrap their head around this elusive concept? Seriously, self evident posts like this are insulting.

  • John Fox

    Hi Ben, no insult intended…just purely for educational benefit for B2B marketers who may not yet have the field experience that you’ve had. So often these days, the marketing director (and team) are responsible for lead qualification and nurturing but yet may not know what they’re aiming for. Providing an acronym like BANT (which is a term coined by John Coe) is merely a worthwhile teaching aid.

  • http://www.BestOnlineShoppingWebsites.com Steve

    Well I have been in sales for 30 years and I like the acronym. I know it sounds simple but truth be told, I was one of those sales folks stuffing only the good leads in my pocket. I guess I should show this to my struggling young sales reps. But I still have 5 more years before retirement so I will add it to my calendar.

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  • Biz

    “Sales reps WE’RE willing…”?? “We’re” means “we are” so it doesn’t make sense!

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