CRM Lead: How Do I Disqualify Thee? Let Me Count The Ways

Executed correctly, inbound marketing efforts can create quality CRM leads for salespeople to follow up with.

Inbound marketing leads are generally of higher quality than a list of visitors to a trade show booth. However, there will still be a percentage of leads that some salespeople affectionately refer to as “crap.”

Salesperson CRM Lead Disqualification

A bad lead should be changed to a status of ‘Disqualified’ in CRM. Although salespeople are among the less compliant CRM users, a bad lead can sometimes be left indefinitely in an ‘Open’ or ‘New’ status.

The more aggressively a salesperson disqualifies no-good leads, the more time they will have to spend on quality leads. But is it enough to just flag a lead as ‘Disqualified’ in CRM?

Most CRM systems can be easily configured such that the reason a lead has been disqualified must be selected from a list.

When to Disqualify a Lead

There are two good arguments for requiring a reason for a CRM lead status of ‘Disqualified.’

1. Selecting a reason gets salespeople into more of a disqualification mindset. If the CRM system is configured such that a salesperson must select why a lead was marked disqualified, there will be resulting “action taking momentum.”

2. The reasons that specific leads were disqualified can be important feedback for marketing. While marketing can never eliminate bad leads, there are strategies and tactics that can result in a higher percentage of leads that are worth salespeople’s time to pursue.

Just because a lead is disqualified from sales pursuit doesn’t mean the person shouldn’t be part of an email marketing campaign. There may be a few golden nuggets in a sea of disqualified leads.

Mechanically, ‘Reason Disqualified’ can be a dependent pick list that appears when a salesperson changes a lead’s status to ‘Disqualified’ in the CRM system.

Selecting a reason gets salespeople into more of a disqualification mindset.

Here are some hypothetical ‘Reason Disqualified’ picklist values with explanations of each. Some of these will not apply to your business. Conversely, you likely have several reasons that do not appear here.


The lead is either a direct competitor or a service provider for a competitor.

Too Small

There’s a deal value at your company below which it’s not worth the time to pursue a lead. When a lead falls below your threshold, this reason will be selected.

No Budget

You communicate with the lead, but they clarify that your price point is well above what they would consider paying for your product or service.

Out of Market

You only sell into certain regions or countries. Leads from outside those served areas are immediately disqualified. Using reverse IP lookup, out-of-market leads could be filtered from going into the CRM system in the first place.


The lead used a cryptic freemail address. The web form does not require a company name or phone number. There’s just not enough information to research the person in a sales intelligence system or on sites such as LinkedIn.


The salesperson has gathered intelligence on this person. Their company looks to be a fit for your product or service. However, the CRM lead does not respond to one-to-one emails or phone calls.

No Access to Decision Maker

The lead intentionally blocks access to the decision-maker. The deal is not going to progress.

Already Committed

The lead already bought from a competitor but still wanted to check out your product or service.

Not Interested

The lead may be interested in your content, but they have no interest in your product or service.

By ruthlessly disqualifying leads that would likely have been a waste of time — and indicating why those leads were disqualified — salespeople help themselves and help the marketing team.

Marketers can analyze the reasons leads were disqualified. Changes to content and offers can be tested to decrease the percentage of disqualified leads.

Salespeople can focus on the leads most likely to result in closed opportunities.

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