What’s the Difference Between Qualified and Unqualified Leads?

Lead generation is critical to the sales process. Any business will struggle to sell, profit, and expand without leads.

Sales and marketing teams tend towards processes that generate a high quantity of leads rather than high-quality leads. However, it is imperative to know that not all leads are equal. Some leads have much higher chances of converting than others.

Lead qualification is the process of evaluating if a lead is ready, willing, and able to buy your offerings. But, it is worth knowing that the concept of lead qualification differs from industry to industry and company to company.

In this article, you will learn:

  • how leads are classified as unqualified or qualified,
  • to understand a prospect’s needs before drawing them into your sales efforts,
  • how to get answers to critical questions,
  • the right ways to qualify leads.

So let’s get started.


What's the Difference Between Qualified and Unqualified Leads?


What is a Qualified Lead?

Any company/individual deemed more likely to become your business’ customer than others is a qualified lead.

Qualified leads are those who are in the process of buying a product/service that mostly aligns with what you are selling. They have:

  • done all their research,
  • brainstormed and listed their exact needs,
  • know precisely what they are looking for,
  • a clearly defined budget allocated to them,
  • complete control over buying.

Based on their source of origin, qualified leads can be classified as

  • Sales qualified leads (SQL) – people who have spoken to a salesperson and identified as someone ready to buy
  • Marketing qualified leads (MQL) – people who have interacted with a marketing campaign in a way that identifies them as ready to buy

But how would you know whether you have a qualified lead? The first step to finding out if the prospect qualifies, based on their interest and fit, is that they show clear interest. They should be ready to invest their time to understand

  • what you have to say
  • how your solution can help address their needs.

A lead is most often disqualified during the exploration and discussion phase. Here are a few questions that should be answered to identify a qualified lead:

  • How well do they match your ideal customer profile?
  • What do they need?
  • What is the role of the prospect in the buying process? Are they just delegates or the final decision-maker?
  • Do they properly understand what your company is offering?
  • Can they afford your product or service?
  • Are they ready to have another meeting, attend a product demo, sign up for a trial, etc, to know better?
  • Do they firmly accept that your product/service will match their business well?
  • What other solutions are they considering?
  • For them, how does your solution compare to the competitors?

Having satisfactory answers to these questions can ensure a higher chance of converting the prospect. If the prospect qualifies, it is worth having your sales department follow up.


What is an Unqualified Lead?

An unqualified lead is an individual/business that is mostly unfamiliar with your business. They have not been fully nurtured through your sales funnel.

An unqualified lead may be unsure of your product, may not need it, or may not know if they need it. Sometimes, they don’t have the budget to make the purchase.

The three most common reasons why a lead is not ready to buy are:

  • Timing
  • Budget
  • Inability to see your product’s value

Too often, the buyer is just price-shopping or talking with a few other companies for research. People are often only looking for general information or trying to identify a problem in their company. An easy way to identify someone fully in the research phase is that they’ll refuse to bring their bosses or the decision-maker onto the scene before they are sure.

Unfortunately, no business runs on a boundless budget and assets. Spending your marketing expenditure on leads who don’t need, can’t buy, or are simply unsure about the product/services you are offering is a waste of time and resources.

Details of people who are not interested in buying right have less value to your sales team. But they aren’t without potential. These unqualified leads can be nurtured until they near the purchase window – and become qualified leads.


What to do with Unqualified Leads

The failure of B2B sales prospecting can be hurtful. Converting unqualified leads into paying customers may look like a lot of effort. But with the right tools and tactics, it isn’t the case.

Never knock off the unqualified leads entirely from your database. Even if they don’t qualify, get the maximum details out of them smoothly. Here are some smart ways to do so:

  • Use fun and engaging ways like quizzes to reach out to your target audience and gather more information about them.
  • Organize email marketing campaigns and send newsletters to share the company’s latest updates, new offers, prices, discounts, and valuable information with the prospects.
  • Guide them on how you can provide a solution to their needs and what benefits they will enjoy once they decide to invest in your offerings. For example, if the price is an obstacle, explain why your product costs more than that of competitors. Sooner or later, your product might fit their budget and requirements.


Lead qualification is a process.

Any company has to give a prospect time to engage, disengage, and re-engage with its business. Sales often don’t happen overnight.

To push the leads further down the sales funnel, you should conduct an efficient lead nurturing program. Take them through the stages of awareness, consideration, and decision-making. Watch how people interact with your site and services; you’ll find several lead-qualifying opportunities over time.

And to be on the safe side, be transparent with the product’s pricing on the website. You may think this can backfire – what if your solution is out of their price range, and you lose customers?

Big deal. At least you are left with those who are willing to spend.

And remember, lead qualification takes a combined effort from both the marketing AND sales teams. They have to agree on the lead lifecycle stages. The marketing team should listen to the demands of the sales team, and the sales team should understand who the marketing team is defining as a qualified lead.


About Samuel Alfie

Samuel Alfie is a blogger at ProProfs Discuss, the #1 Q&A website with millions of wisdom seekers collaborating to ask questions and get the best answers. He loves reading and writing about a variety of topics including technology, business, e-commerce, science, philosophy, Pop culture, digital media, and more. With a knack for writing, enthusiasm for research and an editorial mindset, he loves creating content that resonates with the audience.