Whether you’re new to sales or you’re a busy CEO who doesn’t touch base with your sales and marketing teams, whenever you hear the word “qualified leads” you automatically think of sales and when you come across the terms marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and sales qualified leads (SQLs), you may think they are two words that say the same thing. If you think MQLs and SQLs are one and the same, you’re not alone. Many business people who work outside of marketing and sales come to this same conclusion.
The first thing you and your business need to know about marketing qualified leads and sales qualified leads is that they are similar, yet two different things. A marketing qualified lead may not turn into a sales qualified lead and a sales qualified lead may not have started as a marketing qualified lead.
To clear things up a little bit, it helps to define each one. A marketing qualified lead is a lead that the marketing department deems promising enough to hand over to the sales department to complete a sale or deal. A sales qualified lead is a lead that the sales department seems the most likely to convert into a paying customer.
What is a Qualified Lead?
Being uniformed about the difference between a MQLs and SQLs is not the only problem you and your organization should be aware of. There is a deeper issue within the company that leads to misunderstanding and missed sales opportunities. This internal issue is a misunderstanding of what a qualified lead is. While the sales and marketing departments have different roles, and think they can operate independently of each other, the reality is that both departments must work together in order to move leads through the sales funnel and get converting, paying customers.
Since this relationship between sales and marketing is often a distant, and sometimes strained one, it doesn’t come as a surprise that each department has a different definition of what a qualified lead is. By not having a unified, singular definition of a qualified lead, contention between the departments occur.
Many marketers have a liberal definition of what an MQL is. As they aren’t sales people, many marketers pass the vast majority of their leads onto the sales department. The problem with this is that many of these MQLs aren’t qualified enough for the sales team to follow-up on and move down the sales funnel.
Marketers think anyone who engages with the company either online via a newsletter subscription or on social media are interested in purchasing the company’s product or services. These leads, however, aren’t necessarily in the sales funnel stage to be considering a purchase. They are simply interested in the content and what the company has to offer. These leads are aware of their need but aren’t yet certain that your company has the best solution to meet their needs and solve their problems.
While it is great to get contact information from potential leads and have some interaction with them, marketers should be aware of what the business’ target audience and ideal customers are. Knowing this, marketers can dig down deeper into these potential leads to see if they match. If so, these potential leads may be MQLs that can be passed onto the sales team.
When it comes to sales, a SQL is a lead that is further along the sales funnel and are in a prime position to buy. When unvetted MQLs are passed onto the sales department there is often more time and energy wasted on leads that aren’t ready to make a purchasing decision. While the sales team is busy moving their own leads through the sales funnel, unqualified MQLs add extra work for the sales team as they are now bombarded with leads that are at the top of the funnel.
Additionally, when unqualified MQLs are handed off, the sales team has a harder time converting these leads because they get scared off. Think of a time when you clicked on a blog post and shared it on social media only to immediately get a sales email from the same company. Chances are you’d likely hit the unsubscribe button as you’re not interested in making a purchase.
Because these so called “vetted” MQLs are more difficult for sales to convert them into paying customers and the reality that the majority of MQLs don’t convert, strife between the two departments result.
As a business, you want as many prospective leads to become qualified leads that ultimately end up purchasing your product or service. You’ll end up with less sales if you don’t know the difference between an MQL and an SQL and have a sales and marketing team that don’t work together.
Here are some tips to try to get more leads down your sales funnel:
- Have everyone in the company, especially the sales and marketing personnel, know the difference between a SQL and an MQL
- Meet regularly with the sales and marketing team
- Make sure the sales and marketing departments regularly communicate with each other and are on the same page
- Set up a companywide definition for a qualified lead, marketing qualified lead and sales qualified lead
- Make sure that the marketing department knows what the company defines as an MQL and have a uniform vetting process instilled
- Encourage the marketing department to nurture relationships with prospective leads in order to transform them into MQLs that can be passed on to sales
- Have a unified, companywide sales funnel and sales funnel stages defined and make sure the sales and marketing departments know these stages
- Create a process for handing MQLs on to sales
Qualified leads are good to have and whether these qualified leads are in marketing or sales, they shouldn’t be ignored, but instead be taken through the sales funnel. Knowing the difference between a marketing qualified lead and a sales qualified lead is the first thing you and your business need to know. Secondly, you and your business need to realize that sales and marketing have their own definitions of what a qualified lead is and the problems it can cause. There are ways you can bridge these different definitions and unify the sales and marketing departments.
With Aktify, your marketing team can obtain leads to nurture into marketing qualified leads and your sales team can resurrect “dead” or stalled unqualified leads that the marketing team sent over.
If you need help bridging the gap between sales and marketing departments, contact us at Aktify today so your business can begin getting more qualified leads and sales.