Jay Gaines, SiriusDecisions’ Group Director for Demand, has called sales accepted leads (SALs) the most important (but most overlooked) step in the demand creation process. So, what reasons do organizations commonly use to disqualify SALs from becoming sales qualified leads? To answer this question, I have listed the most common SAL disqualification reasons used in effective lead management processes. Please note that disqualification can only occur after qualification attempts have been made and that the number of reasons for disqualification should be limited, to ensure usability for sales. In addition, no values should be included that are not actionable for marketing to trigger active recycled nurturing or refine the lead management process.

SAL disqualification reasons you might consider using:

Unable to reach. The sales rep has attempted to engage the lead (e.g. left several messages), but has been unsuccessful. This option should only be selected if the rep has met the terms of the service-level agreement (SLA) for number of attempts over a specified period of time.

Inaccurate data. The lead’s data was found to be inaccurate (e.g. phone number did not work). This reason should be determined very early (per first-touch parameters in the SLA). If a significant percentage of leads are disqualified for this reason, consider modifying the process to verify contact information before passing a lead to sales as a marketing qualified lead.

No interest/need. The lead is not interested or has no need for your organization’s offering.

No budget. The lead does not have budget to purchase your organization’s offering.

No fit. There is a lack of fit between your offering and the lead’s requirements. When this option is selected, a conditional field should be triggered that captures the reason for the lack of fit. This data can be used later by product marketing to drive future product enhancements and positioning.

Not ready to buy within X months. The lead’s timeframe to purchase is beyond the point at which the sales rep is expected to engage. When this option is selected, the lead should be entered into a nurturing program that will automatically task the rep to re-engage with the lead.

No authority. The lead does not have purchase authority and is not considered to be the internal champion.

Other (reason not listed). The lead is disqualified by the receiving agent, but the reason does not fit one of the categories listed above. An example of this would be a lead “already engaged by another sales rep” or a lead whose organization “already owns the offering.” Both scenarios occur in organizations that lack rigor in lead tagging and/or lead assignment. If these occur frequently, add one or both as SAL disqualification reasons. When “other” is selected, the sales rep should be requested to identify the disqualification reason.