9 Questions to Find Out How Serious a Sales Lead is

Who doesn't love the feeling after you just had an awesome call with a sales lead? Other than closing an exit deal, there's arguably no better feeling of validation for a startup. The trouble is, it can be hard to tell just how serious a sales lead actually is. Founders, myself included, have a tendency to look for confirmation bias. While overcoming this is certainly a challenge, it is imperative that you do so in order to close those first crucial sales. 

After the high-fives are over and the time comes to send a follow-up, you'll begin to wonder, "how legitimate a sales lead is this?" It's extremely hard to predict an answer definitively but, here are 9 key questions to ask yourself to help you find out:

Can you recreate their problem/need priority list? Are you addressing any of them?Do you know what the customer is currently doing to solve their problem/need? Are they using/considering any of your direct competitors?What's the budget they have for this?Who has the authority to say "yes" and were they involved in the conversation? If not, is there a concrete plan in place to bring them in?What remaining steps are needed to close? What is the expected timeline? When is the next meeting/call scheduled & what is on the agenda?What objections did they raise? Did they even raise any objections? (hint: if they didn't its most likely not a good thing. It usually means they aren't seriously considering buying.)Did the questions they asked reflect someone who is looking to buy or just someone who is looking to learn?What switching costs are you up against?Is there a sense of urgency to buy?

Some of these questions may be more difficult for you to answer than others depending on the circumstances. Similarly, many may require multiple conversations beyond the introductory call. By the end of the second call however, you should at least have a clear path to answering all 9 of these questions. Having an answer does not guarantee you have a strong sales lead but, it does provide you with a much better data set for you to make an informed judgement.

The other piece of good news is not only do these questions help you determine whether you had a productive call but, they also will help you prepare for the next one. Selling is a process and an iterative one at that. If you weren't able to answer these questions with your first few sales leads, it's okay. Use this list to help you form a baseline of information to get during the next one.

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James Shomar
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