We can all agree that when it comes to lead generation, the highest priority must be finding quality leads most relevant to your business. This can get a bit complicated when trying to define exactly what a quality lead looks like, especially because your marketing team and sales team most likely have different qualifications that leads must meet. When developing a lead generation strategy, it’s crucial to understand the difference between a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) and a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) and where they fall in your business funnel. Read on to learn what makes these two different and why your team should care.
MQL Should Fit Your Buyer Persona
When you start looking for leads to bring into your pipeline you must have a clear idea of the type of prospects you are looking to target. Part of doing this involves defining what characteristics make a lead worth reaching out to in your marketing efforts, a Marketing Qualified Lead. Generally speaking, a MQL will be a broad description of the people that could use your product or service. In your lead generation efforts it’s often best to cast a wider net in the beginning with the leads you are reaching out to because there may be several different types of professionals and businesses that could be interested in what you have to offer. By having a broader set of qualifications for your marketing team you can reduce the chances of overlooking entire groups of prospects that may be excluded by specific lead targeting.
For example, at Socedo we consider digital marketers to be a MQL for our business. But we also look for social sellers, B2B salespeople, and social media influencers as well because our product can be useful to a variety of professionals. It’s very useful to set a looser definitions and qualifications of leads at the top of the business funnel. This will ensure that your marketing reach touches as many prospects as possible before further qualifying them down the pipeline.
SQL Helps Prioritize Who Your Sales Team Should Be Focused On
Once you’re able to set the parameters of what makes a MQL and start bringing those leads into your pipeline, you can then start narrowing that pipeline into a sales “funnel”. Your sales team should have a separate set of qualifications that helps them determine which leads will be most valuable to them. There are only so many hours in the day for a salesperson to divvy up among their leads. And with the wide net cast by marketing, and subsequent leads flowing in, having a more specific list of attributes for your sales team to look out for will streamline your lead generation and keep sales cycles short. These attributes can be discussed and set in the beginning of lead gen, or they can sometimes become clear as the lead gen process takes off.
At Socedo, a sales qualification for our leads that often proves useful is geographic location. We have noticed that as more and more leads begin to flow into our pipeline, the most relevant and qualified leads for our product come from certain locations. Having this attribute to organize the leads our sales team is focusing on plays a huge role in making our business pipeline efficient and effective for generating revenue. It may not be geographic location for your business. Consider the companies many of your best customers come from, their specific positions, and even the specific activities and actions they take on social media. All of these can serve as great indicators of who a SQL is to you.
You may be wondering, why should I bother having a broader definition of a MQL if I plan on devoting sales time to those specific SQLs down the line? Well, just because a lead doesn’t match your specific SQL criteria doesn’t mean that they can’t still become a conversion for your business. Some prospects don’t need a sales pitch to jump on your bandwagon, what you offer is simply enough. By opening the funnel wider with your MQL search you increase the chances of reaching these outliers. A conversion is a conversion, even if they don’t fit an exact description you have in mind. Having distinct definitions of MQLs and SQLs will merely help you to focus your lead generation efforts where they will be most effective.