What Is A Qualified Lead?
A qualified lead, simply put, is anyone who could potentially become a customer of your organization. The definition of what makes a qualified lead, however, varies from business to business.
Generally, defining what makes a qualified lead will be based on:
- Their engagement with your organization
- The type of identifying information someone provides during their interaction with your business
For some companies, a qualified lead might envelop anyone who has visited their website more than once. Other organizations may have stricter qualifications, like only calling someone a lead if they’ve taken an action beyond casually looking at the website.
Despite varying definitions of what makes a qualified lead, there are two major buckets your leads will fall into, which will indicate how far along the buying journey they are.
What are Marketing Qualified Leads?
A Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) has met the minimum standard requirements for marketing to a lead. An MQL can show expressed interest in your product or service through a number of activities like:
- Voluntarily submitting their contact information from a form on your website
- Opted into an email campaign
- Visiting your company's social media pages
- Added items to a shopping cart
- Downloaded an ebook or white paper
- Or has visited your website more than once
These activities show that the lead is likely interested in your service, but they haven’t quite made the step into a sales conversation yet.
When it comes to MQLs, it’s best practice to continue marketing to them in the hopes of pushing them down further down the sales funnel.
Sales Qualified Leads
Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) are usually deemed more valuable than MQLs because they appear ready to make a decision.
Usually SQLs are a result of well-nurtured MQLs. Leads in the SQL phase have likely indicated they are ready or a personalized one-to-one follow-up conversation because they’ve:
- Requesting a demo on your website
- Achieved a high lead score based on MQL interactions
- Answered qualifying questions that indicate they’re a good fit for your product or service
When Does an MQL Turn Into A SQL?
Most businesses use the BANT system (Budget, Authority, Needs, and Timeline) to understand when a lead is most likely to buy:
They Have the Budget
Before you spend your marketing efforts and resources on a client, make sure you know that the client is willing and able to invest in your products. For example, if your service costs $5,000 per month, but the lead’s budget is only $5,000 a quarter, they are not likely to move into the SQL category.
They Have the Authority to Make the Purchasing Decision
SQLs will also be the decision-makers, or at least the champions that can influence the decision-maker’s process. While garnering interest from other company advocates is important, ultimately SQLs will be the point of contact who can actually write the check.
Their Needs Align With Your Service
It’s also important for your organization to ask qualifying questions during the MQL process to ensure your product or service is a strong fit for your leads. If your lead’s pain points don’t align with your product or service’s solution, then moving MQLs through to SQL will be all for naught.
They are Looking to Make a Decision Sooner Rather Than Later
Nothing stings worse than going through the sales process, and thinking you’ve found a qualified lead, only to learn they won’t be ready to make a purchasing decision for another year. These leads, while still very valuable, are still in the MQL phase, and require continuous reminders of your brand as they become ready to make their ultimate decision.
Looking for a better way to qualify leads at your organization? Learn how Scuba Analytics can help!