How to Qualify an Inbound Lead

How to qualify a lead and why inbound lead generation is much more effective than simply buying leads

This three-part blog series has previously looked at how to generate inbound leads, with a look at some specific strategies and tips to do so effectively. As we have covered in these posts, a lead is a person who has indicated interest in your organisation's product or service.

In this third and final post, we will talk about the ways in which someone can actually show that interest to then determine whether they are a fit for your organisation.


A sales lead is generated through information collection. Information collection can come as the result of a job seeker showing interest in a position via an application, a shopper sharing contact information in exchange for a coupon or a prospect filling out a form to download an educational piece of content.

In this section, as we have done throughout the series, we will use HubSpot's guide to assess those inbound leads.


Below are just a few of the many ways in which you could qualify someone as a lead. Each of these examples shows that the amount of collected information used to qualify a lead, as well as the lead level of interest, can vary.

Let's assess each scenario:

Job application: An individual that fills out an application form is willing to share a lot of personal information because he/she wants to be considered for a position. Filling out an application shows their true interest in the job, therefore qualifying the person as a lead for the organisation's recruiting team.

Coupon: Unlike a job application, know very little about someone who has stumbled upon one of your online coupons. But if they find the coupon valuable enough, they may be willing to give you their name and email address in exchange for it. Although it's not a lot of information, it's enough for an organisation to know that someone has an interest in them.

Content: While the download of a coupon shows an individual has a direct interest in your product or service, content (like an educational e-book or webinar) doesn’t. So to truly understand the nature of the person's interest in your business, you'll probably need to collect more information to decide whether the person is interested in your product or service and whether they're a good fit.

These three general examples highlight how lead generation differs from company to company, and from person to person. You'll need to collect enough information to gauge whether someone has a true, valid interest in your product or service — how much information is enough information will vary depending on your business.


Full Name: The most fundamental information needed to personalise your communication with each lead.

Email: This serves as a unique identifier and is how you will contact your lead.

Company: This will give you the ability to research your lead’s industry and company and how the lead might benefit from your product or service (mainly for B2B).

Role: Understanding an individual's role will help you understand how to communicate with them. Every brand stakeholder will have a different take and perspective on your offering (mainly for B2B).

Country: Location information can help you segment your contact by region and time zone, and help you qualify the lead depending on your service.

State: The more detailed information you can get without sacrificing conversions, the better. Knowing your leads state can help you further qualify them.


Lead scoring is a way to qualify leads quantitatively. Doing it this way, leads are assigned a numerical value (or score) to determine where they fall on the scale from “interested” to “ready for a sale”. The criteria for these actions is completely up to the organisation or the salesperson, but it must be consistent across your marketing and sales departments.

A lead’s score can be based on actions they’ve taken, the information they’ve shared, their level of engagement with your brand, or other criteria that your sales team determines. For instance, you may score someone higher if they regularly engage with you on social media or if their demographic information matches your target audience.

Borrowing from the examples above, you might give a lead a higher score if they used one of your coupons — an action that would signify this person is interested in your product.

The higher a lead’s score, the closer they are to becoming a sales-qualified lead (SQL), which is only a step away from becoming a customer. The score and criteria is something you may need to tweak along the way until you find the formula that works, but once you do, you’ll transform your lead generation into customer generation.


So, you are getting web traffic, generating leads and also converting and qualifying those leads. But how are you doing compared to other organisations in your industry? How many leads should you really be generating?

It's tough to figure out if your lead generation strategy is working if you aren't looking at industry data. HubSpot partnered with Qualtrics to survey over 900 marketers from all different industries in North America and Europe to create a demand generation report with data on website visitors, leads, opportunities, customers, and revenue.

74% of organisations that weren’t exceeding revenue goals didn't know their visitor, lead, MQL, or sales opportunities numbers. How about that over 70% of companies not achieving their revenue goals generate fewer than 100 leads per month, and only 5% generate more than 2,500 leads per month?

The following data is provided by HubSpot.


HubSpot found that 58% of organisations generated 500 leads per month or fewer, and 71% generated 1,000 or fewer. The organisations having the most success are also the ones generating the most leads.

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The media and publishing industries report the lowest cost per lead at $11 to $25. Software, information technology and services, marketing agencies, and financial services companies all report the highest average cost per lead at $51 to $100. The average cost per lead for the pharmaceutical, healthcare and medical industry is $26-$50.


Unsurprisingly, the more revenue a company has, the more leads they generate. The differences are most drastic at the highest and lowest end of the spectrum: 82% of companies with $250,000 or less in annual revenue report generating less than 100 leads per month, whereas only 8% of companies generating $1 billion in annual revenue report less than 100 leads per month.


HubSpot found that the most successful teams use a formal system to organise and store leads: 46% use Google Docs, 41% use marketing automation software, and 37% use CRM software.


This blog post series has looked at the basics of inbound lead generation, building on these basics with a number of inbound lead generation strategies and has concluded with some lead qualification ideas, as well as some benchmarking data. The core content, of which, has been provided by HubSpot.

Now, it's time to dive deeper into lead generation and make it happen for your organisation...