what is lead qualification

Step-by-Step Guide to Lead Qualification: What Is Lead Qualification & How to Automate It to 10X Results

Today I’m going to show you how to automate lead qualification so you can improve prospecting, find ideal customers, and deliver more qualified leads to your sales team.

Let’s face it. You might have tons of prospects—but if your sales team doesn’t have enough resources or capacity to qualify leads, you’ve got a donkey situation on your hands.

With an automated lead generation tool like Customers.ai, you can pave the way to Unicorn Land much more efficiently. By automating lead qualification, you can set up a streamlined process to separate the unicorns from the donkeys—so your sales team can focus on closing deals with unicorn clients.

Let’s hit the road and take the fast lane to Unicorn Land. Here’s your map:

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What is lead qualification?

Lead qualification is the process of identifying the prospects who are the likeliest to purchase a product or service from your business. In other words, it picks out the serious prospects and separates them from the casual window shoppers.

To qualify potential customers, most sales reps use an established framework and a lead scoring system. They ask questions or conduct research, assigning a score based on each response or datapoint.

Then they use the total score to determine whether a prospect is a sales-qualified lead (SQL). That way they can make data-driven decisions about which prospects to pursue.

Why is lead qualification important?

The average sales funnel attracts a mix of prospects. You can’t expect to convert all of them—but you need to know where to allocate your lead nurturing efforts.

With a reliable, repeatable lead qualification workflow in place, your team can make smarter decisions and work more efficiently. With an automated workflow, you can streamline your process and reduce costs while delivering more sales leads. That’s where tools like a CRM or cloud call center can help with identifying and nurturing the right leads.

How to Automate Lead Qualification: Step-by-Step Guide

Let’s build a sample lead qualification process using Customers.ai. You can customize the steps below to fit your sales process and ideal customer profile.

How to Automate Lead Qualification Step #1: Create a lead magnet

To attract prospects and get them into your sales funnel, offer a valuable lead magnet.

Depending on your business type, your lead magnet might offer a:

  • Report featuring innovative research
  • Guide to solving a key customer pain point
  • Discount code for first-time customers

For this example, our lead magnet is a new webinar hosted by Customers.ai CEO Larry Kim. We designed it to attract leads seeking to 10x Instagram growth with messaging automation.

How to Automate Lead Qualification Step #2: Set up automated lead capture form

Next, give prospects a way to access your lead magnet. By using social media to automate lead generation, you can add prospects to your funnel and take them through your lead qualification process—without requiring your marketing team to handle requests manually.

With Customers.ai, you can set up an automated messaging workflow in just a few minutes. Go to the Automations interface and create a new Free E-book/Whitepaper Download Offer.

For this example, we’ll use Instagram as our messaging channel. You also have the option to choose Facebook or SMS—and you can configure multiple inputs after the initial setup.

Then click the Add input button to choose a trigger. You can automate messaging based on Instagram Live chat, post engagement, Story mentions, or DMs.

For this example, we’ll go with Instagram Keywords, which prompts automated DMs. By default, the automation template collects the prospect’s email and phone number before asking three qualifying questions—which is ideal for this example.

Next, designate a keyword to trigger the automation. Pick a relatively common keyword if you want the automation to engage a lot of people who DM you—or choose a unique keyword to set up a more exclusive funnel.

How to Automate Lead Qualification Step #3: Ask qualifying questions

After adding a keyword, set up a workflow to collect contact data from prospects. The template automatically asks for prospects’ email addresses and phone numbers—but you can add or remove contact widgets or reword them in your brand voice.

Then set up some qualifying questions to identify SQLs. Create a list of questions based on your ideal customer, asking for information like:

  • Business role or job title
  • Company size or industry
  • Budget for the product or service
  • Time frame for making a purchase decision

For this example, we’re looking for prospects who want to 10x Instagram growth using messaging automation. So we’ll ask about their company name and size, business role, and social media account size to determine if they’re a decision maker and if they’re the right fit.

After collecting all the data you need to qualify prospects, send them the lead magnet. You can send it via DM or use their email address or phone number to send it via SMS or email.

It’s also helpful to automatically tag prospects who have received your lead magnet. That way you can nurture leads automatically later on or avoid sending the same asset twice.

How to Automate Lead Qualification Step #4: Flag your high-quality unicorn leads

Now it’s time to process the leads you’ve collected and identify any unicorns. Open the Unicorn Detector settings to set up your own custom filters.

We consider qualified prospects unicorn leads, since they fit our ideal customer profile and are likely to buy. We consider all others donkey leads, since they aren’t an ideal fit for this opportunity,

For this example, assume we’re prospecting for bigger companies that have relatively large Instagram audiences. Using the attributes we set up in the qualifying questions, we can identify prospects who fit this profile.

How to Automate Lead Qualification Step #5: Deliver qualified leads to your sales team

Finally, you can loop in your sales team and automatically notify them when you’ve identified a qualified lead. To set up notifications, go back into your input trigger—in this case, Instagram Keywords.

At the end of the workflow, click to add a new widget. From the list, choose Notification.

Select Email and add a subject line and the email address for your sales team. Add relevant attributes in the body, such as the customer and company name. The widget automatically adds a link to the conversation.

To configure the conditions for the notification email, click the arrow icon in the upper right corner. Then click Attributes and choose the ones that align with your ideal customer. For this example, we’ll select the attributes we added as Unicorn Detector filters.

You can also add a re-engagement sequence to your workflow, enabling your team to nurture leads automatically. For example, you can use SMS marketing to reconnect with unicorn leads and follow up about their experience with your lead magnet.

Find Your Qualified Unicorn Prospects With Automated Lead Qualification

Hear that? It’s the sound of your sales team following up with all those unicorn prospects your automated lead qualification workflow identified.

Or it could be—if you follow the steps above to launch your own lead gen automation. Go get your free trial of Customers.ai and start streamlining your sales process today.

FAQs About Lead Qualification

What are the 5 requirements for a lead to be considered a qualified prospect?

Sales teams typically use a set of four, five, or six characteristics to assess leads. These frameworks help sales reps qualify leads based on a standard set of questions rather than objective evaluation.

What is a lead qualification framework?

Use one of the five frameworks below to collect data and qualify leads. Depending on who you’re selling to and what you’re selling, some work better than others.


The ANUM framework considers Authority, Need, Urgency, and Money. It prioritizes the prospect’s authority to make purchase decisions.


The BANT framework looks at Budget, Authority, Needs, and Timeline. Since it places the greatest emphasis on budget, it’s ideal for high-ticket products and services..


The CHAMP framework evaluates the prospect’s CHallenges, Authority, Money, and Prioritization. It focuses on whether the solution truly resolves the lead’s pain points and can be helpful for less aware prospects.


The FAINT framework reviews the prospect’s Funds, Authority, Interest, Need, and Timing. It’s the only technique that considers interest, making it ideal for cold leads and new prospects.


The MEDDIC framework tends to be the most complex and assesses the following characteristics:

  • Metrics, or what does the prospect aim to achieve with your product or service?
  • Economic buyer, or who is the decision maker for purchases?
  • Decision criteria, or what does the prospect consider when deciding on a purchase?
  • Decision process, or what techniques does the prospect use to decide?
  • Identification of pain points, or what problems does the prospect want to resolve?
  • Champion, or does the organization already have a person who believes in your product or service?

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