What is a Sales Qualified Lead?

What is a Sales Qualified Lead?

Sales qualified leads. What are they and how are they different from a marketing qualified lead? How do these leads have anything to do with your marketing strategy?

These are common questions asked by new marketing professionals. If these are the same questions you’re asking, you’re not alone. We hope you’ll gain a better understanding of a sales qualified lead by the end of this post.

Let’s get started.

Sales Qualified Lead vs. Marketing Qualified Lead

Sometimes the term sales qualified leads and marketing qualified leads are used interchangeably. While they are related in that they represent two stops of the customer journey through a company’s sales funnel, they are different.

Marketing Qualified Leads

Marketing qualified leads (MQLs) are lead prospects that have been nurtured through the efforts of your marketing strategy. The goal of the marketing strategy is to boost brand awareness and credibility. Social media, newsletters, enewsletters, email marketing, mailings and mailers, blogging, SEO and signage are common marketing tactics to get the attention of marketing qualified leads.

Sales Qualified Leads

After the most promising marketing qualified leads make it through the marketing funnel and are vetted, they are handed off to the sales team to lead them through the sales funnel and into paying or converting customers. It is at this hand-off point that a marketing qualified lead becomes a sales qualified lead.

Unlike with a marketing qualified lead where the goal is to simply spread awareness and relationship building, a salesperson is to make a sales qualified lead into a converting customer who makes a purchase. Presentations, phone calling, text messaging, emailing, and meeting scheduling and follow up are common sales tactics.

What Makes a Good Sales Qualified Lead

Sales Funnel Stages

The typical sales funnel contains four to six or more stages.  The exact variation will be determined by your specific company. If you’re unsure what your company’s sale funnel looks like, you can likely bet that it has six stages as this is the most common type of sales funnel. These six sales funnel stages are as follows:

Awareness: At this first stage, sales leads know little or nothing (if the marketing department did a poor job at vetting the prospect) about  your brand, products or services. At this point, the sales qualified lead is far from making a purchasing decision. They are still learning about your company.

Discovery: During this stage, the SQL’s interest is piqued and they want to learn more about how your products or service can help solve their problem. This is a great time to set up initial meetings with the prospect.

Evaluation: At this stage, the sales qualified lead is evaluating his or her options. They have probably gotten quotes and proposals from other companies in addition to yours.

Intent: It is at this stage that negotiations take place. The SQL has made the decision to do business with you, but wants to be sure of the  accuracy of your proposal and that you’ll offer all you promised.

Purchase: Here, the SQL converts and makes a purchase. They are now a paying customer. However, the sales journey isn’t quite over yet. There is one important, final step.

Follow-Up: After a customer makes a purchase, it’s now time for the salesperson to follow up with the customer in an attempt to make him or her a loyal customer who will make repetitive, future purchases. This is only possible through continued interaction and communication with the customer.

A sales qualified leads is a marketing qualified lead that has been carefully vetted by the marketing department. Once the lead has been handed over to the sales department, it becomes a sales qualified lead.

In order to get a sales qualified lead to make a purchase, a relationship must be carefully nurtured. The nurturing of this relationship is visually represented in a sales funnel. The most common sales funnels have six stages encompassing awareness, evaluation, purchase and follow-up.

Sometimes your sales qualified leads can “fall through the cracks” while going through the sales funnel. Many people however, forget about these “dead” leads. At Aktify, we can help you revive these dead leads. Contact us today to learn more.

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