How many times have you hopped on a discovery call, sold your heart out, thought that they were super interested… just to hear:
“I can’t start right now, but maybe in 3+ months!”
“I just don’t have the budget for it right now.”
“I see all of your current offers, but could you make a custom package just for me?”
“Oh, everything sounds great! I love it! Send me the info and I’ll get back to you!” (followed by crickets)
It definitely doesn’t feel good to have invested time and energy into a lead that didn’t end up being a good fit in the end. In my first year in business, I took in over 200 leads, spent a TON of time on discovery calls, and ended up hearing a lot of the statements above because I hadn’t qualified my leads before the call!
“Jasmin, you keep saying ‘qualify’ your leads… What does that mean?”
Qualifying leads means making sure they are a good fit for your services, they have the budget to invest in you, and they are ready to begin working with you. Basically, you are filtering out the leads that wouldn’t lead to clients for whichever various reason before you get on the discovery call with them.
So now that we know what we’re trying to do and why, let’s hop into the “how”!
Qualifying leads does not have to be a difficult or scary process! Making sure your leads are ready to work with you should only make your life easier, and the process to get there is no different. I use the BANT framework for qualifying my leads. The acronym stands for Budget, Authority, Need, and Time, each of which is a key part in making sure your leads are ready to hit the ground running by the time you get on that discovery call!
I use this framework within my application process. Essentially, before a lead can book a discovery call with me, they must first fill out an application!
Figuring out right away what the lead’s budget is can be really helpful in determining whether or not they are a qualified lead! Let’s say your prices begin at $297 and go all the way up to $3,000 for your largest package.
On the application form, you would ask something along the lines of:
“My services range from $297 to $2,000 are you ready for this level of investment?”
To which they can either check “Yes” and continue the application, or “No” and not complete the rest of the application. If someone has a budget lower than $297, they will know right away that your services fall outside of their price range, and you won’t be encountered with this objection as the discovery call is coming to an end!
This part of the framework mainly applies to services with high investment points. As a service provider, if your biggest packages don’t typically cost more than $2-3k, this may not be as important of a qualifying factor for you, but it is still good to keep in mind!
On the application form, you would ask something like this:
“Is there anyone other than yourself that needs to approve decisions like this?”
This question will be really important if you are working with high-level investments, or any kind of investment where there is typically more than just one person involved. (For example, if your “client” is actually a company, they may need approval from more than just one person in order to move forward!)
Next up in qualifying leads is identifying their needs, and making sure you have the services and packages that they need! I recommend starting out asking direct questions like:
“Which of my services are you interested in?” and having them check off the ones they would like to learn more about. This way, they know exactly what you offer and you know exactly what it is they may be looking for!
It could also include more open-ended questions like:
“What are you currently struggling with in managing your social media platforms?”
“How can I best support you in (insert your services here)?”
Asking these kinds of questions will help you to know if they are looking for the kinds of services you provide, as well as the level of support they need!
Last but definitely not least, asking questions related to your lead’s time expectations! Knowing when a potential client is willing to start working with you will be super helpful. For example, if a client knows they won’t be able to start working with you for another 3-6 months, you may not put as much time into their application as someone who wants to start immediately!
Here are a few simple ways to ask your leads about their expectations around time:
“When are you looking to begin working together?”
“Do you have a timeline in mind for working together?”
Sure, it can be great if someone knows they want to work with you in a few months’ time, which is a great time to have a “waitlist” ready to go! Unless you are also booked out for 3 months, saying that you will wait and save the spot for someone (without, let’s say, a deposit being paid) is tricky, if they end up deciding not to go through with it.
In my experience, offering them a spot on your waitlist is a great middle-ground! You aren’t turning them away, but you are also not investing too much time into a lead that may not end up becoming a client!
One of the most frequently asked questions I get about creating an application form is how to create the application form! Which makes total sense!
For my application form, I use a program called Dubsado. Along with using this platform to create my application form, I also use it for contracts, invoicing, and more, so that I have everything in one place.
Another option I have seen other service-based entrepreneurs use is Typeform! On there, you can create really high-quality-looking forms which you can adjust to your branding! This one will be especially helpful if you mainly run your business from Instagram/social media and don’t have a website yet.
Most websites that offer a “contact” form will also allow you to insert various questions into it! So if you have a website and aren’t already using Dubsado, this may be an easy alternative for you.
In addition to the questions I listed under each category above, here are a few additional questions you could consider asking on your application form! Obviously, each business is different and will have different needs, so just take what you need and use what works best for you! There’s no right or wrong way to do it, as long as it works well for you! It can also be helpful to switch up for questions every now and then and see if a different question works better.
“Have you ever worked with a ___ before?”
“What is your vision for the next 6 months?”
“What is your brand voice/tone?”
“Who do you admire or look up to within your niche?”
While setting up an application process may sound like some work at first, trust me, it pays off! Literally! By only spending time on leads that have the real potential to be great, new clients, you will be freeing up the time and energy you would’ve spent on countless (dead end) discovery calls! Your time is one of your most precious resources, and making sure you use it wisely will ensure that you avoid burnout, stay aligned, and enjoy showing up for your business each and every day!