Specifically, let’s talk about how marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and sales qualified leads (SQLs) differ. In general, it is when there is not clarity between what is an MQL and what is an SQL that we see misaligned sales and marketing teams.
And misalignments here lead to a massive loss of productivity and performance.
So, MQL and SQL are not equal (EQL) – but if we can understand exactly how incorrectly qualifying leads affects our sales cycle, we can start to sell a lot more productively.
Which is to say that when marketing and sales agree upon a seamless hands-off process, they can start focussing on the leads that results in deals.
Despite the centrality of leads to any B2B business they remain a problem for many.
Recently HubSpot reported that 63% of marketers still found generating leads to be a number one challenge.
Interestingly, many of these went on to name qualifying their leads as ready for sales to be an equally pressing concern.
This qualification is, in effect, the difference between an MQL and a SQL.
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What is a Marketing Qualified Lead?
An MQL is a prospect that may eventually turn into a sale, but isn’t considered quite ready to buy yet. It is, in effect still an outlier,
In terms of engagement an MQL is likely to have:
Signed up for a newsletter
Completed an online form
Added shopping items to a cart
Spent periods of time on a site or visited certain pages
MQLs, then, are receptive to buying into the brand and receiving additional marketing or content, but they are engaging at present at one remove.
What is a Sales Qualified Lead?
An SQL is considerably further along the sales funnel – whether through requested information or voluntarily supplied details, they will have been qualified as a potential customer.
They meet existing criteria for a qualified lead
They have displayed an intention to buy
They have demonstrated behaviour or attributes that has earned them a qualifying lead score
Typically, they will no longer wish to engage through researching information but be ready to discuss their needs over a sales call.
How you can align your MQL to SQL handover
Collaboration between marketing and sales is key to successful prospecting. The goal is to have a seamless are transition from MQL to SQL.
Any misalignment in understanding this will greatly reduce your new revenue generation. Leads that are sent to sales without being properly qualified will waste time and resources.
Interest is not intent.
By correctly identifying leads that are ready for handover you allow your sales team to concentrate on closing with confidence.
To close, here are five ways you can improve this process.
Use Sales Development to approve leads
For a lead to proceed to the next phase, you can introduce a step know as becoming a sales accepted lead (SAL).
These are leads that have passed certain acceptance criteria – usually based on a lead scoring system – but still require further qualification.
This would usually be carried out by the engagement of someone from the Sales Development team who will assess whether the lead is ready to be accepted by a Sales Account Executive as a SQL.
Keep aligning your sales and marketing teams
It is important to ensure that the core values and key messages remain consistent all the way through the sales process. If one team is sharing inconsistent messaging, it can create confusion, reduce credibility, and reduce your conversion rate.
Don’t push too hard
It benefits no-one to try to sell to an unqualified prospect. Allow your prospect to go through the sales process naturally and not by force.
Remember, lead quality wins out over lead quantity every day.
Use a CRM system
CRM systems are essential for storing information and categorising your leads all in one place. They allow you to efficiently manage and track the progress of each prospect.
Regularly review your lead scoring metrics
Has the buying market changed? Are some attributes over-emphasised? Are there other factors that could play a role in leading to a more high-quality sales?
One sure-fire way to align sales and marketing is to work together on continually refining your lead score system.
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