How to Improve the B2B Lead Qualification Process in Niche Markets


One of the biggest challenges when it comes to B2B lead generation is increasing lead quantity without compromising lead quality

In the B2B growth marketing world, marketers of niche products and services simply don’t have a big pool of potential customers to draw from.

Which is why the golden rule of niche marketing strategy is marketing early and often. 

The idea is to build awareness through B2B content marketing before the customer shops. But what happens all too often, is marketing hands the lead over to sales before it’s qualified, and the prospect bounces.

“We all want a seamless customer experience. Yet our companies are full of interdepartmental seams. If you want to know how to improve the customer experience, stop handing leads off from one department to another,” says Roderick Jefferson when he answered the question, “what is sales enablement?” in a previous interview.

So deciding when, why, and how to move a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) to a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) is tricky business. If you’re a sales development rep, you must take the time to double-confirm that they’re qualified and ready to hear from a salesperson.

To solve for not just more but better, leads, I sat down with Greg Reeder, Director of Marketing at SAP National Security Services. Working in a niche market — the US government sector — he had plenty of intelligent insights on improving the B2B lead qualification process. And his insights are transferrable to any sector. 

3 ways to improve your lead qualification methods

At its core, lead gen is all about understanding your customer. The better you are able to do that, the less time you’ll spend having the wrong conversations — or missing out altogether on the ones you should be having.

For B2B marketers in a finite market, taking a few extra steps to build a reliable lead qualification process is the easiest way to increase conversion rates. 

If you want to learn how to generate leads, here’s the most important thing I can tell you:

Leads x Conversion Rate = Revenue

Nothing directly impacts the bottom line more than the number of leads you generate and the percentage of them that you close.

1. Audit your current lead gen process 

Take a look at your current leads. Are they:

  • A real person with the correct contact info so your sales team can quickly get in touch? To enrich lead data, check out services like ClearBit, Datanyze, and LeadGenius to help round out customer records and fill in missing data fields.
  • Are you genuinely interested in what you have to offer? If there’s no interest, and you qualify the lead to be contacted by your SDRs or salespeople, your team will lose confidence in lead quality across the board.
  • Experiencing a problem or challenge your company can solve? In smaller B2B markets, you can use problem-solution-oriented content marketing campaigns to build visibility and credibility.

If you can confidently check all these boxes, your leads are qualified. If you can’t, your lead qualification tools and techniques are not effectively optimized.

Your team must be able to answer all of the leads’ questions. To do this, you may need to…

2. Work on your sales scripts

…and ask better questions!

Your team needs to intimately understand the customers’ needs and challenges and be well-versed on how the different benefits and features of your product or service can solve those. 

To have meaningful conversations with your potential customers, empathize with their pain points. Use the sales script as talking points. 

Teach your SDRs how to be true problem solvers, offering your potential customers a positive experience with deep subject matter expertise, broader industry trends, and personalized anecdotes.

Have your SDRs specialize in different vertical industry sectors so they deliver value to prospects even if they’re not ready to buy.

3. Appeal to their emotions 

Buyers decide on emotion and rationalize their decision with the facts. Yes, even when it comes to content marketing. 

You need to connect emotionally to convince your customers that they should buy your product or service.  

Your sales team and marketing team should both be qualifying leads. But effective sales communication is KEY

To develop your SDRs’ communication skills quicker, check out conversation intelligence platforms like Chorus and Gong, which transcribe and analyze sales calls in real time. This allows winning sales tactics to be effectively shared throughout the organization. Don’t forget to subscribe for more tips and tricks to improve your B2B marketing.

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