MQL vs SQL Leads : What’s the Difference?

Marketing is a process with a very clear start and endpoints. However, MQL vs. SQL is a common area of disagreement between marketing and sales. Both Marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and Sales qualified leads (SQLs) have specific positions in the buying cycle. While marketing teams want to generate maximum leads, they still want to earn as much money as possible for the company. Getting more sales qualified leads will help accomplish that.

To generate revenue, marketing and sales teams must work closely and together to decide what develops an MQL and an SQL. 

What’s the difference between MQL and SQL?

First, let’s understand what is ‘Marketing Qualified Leads‘ (MQL). MQL is the actual result of marketing activities and investments. These are people who express their interest in the company’s products and services, making them more easily changeable into proper sales leads. The data which we rely upon to determine MQL is generally based on measurable behavior and degrees of participation. These behavioral actions trigger changing a prospect to MQL status. 

Generally, these actions would include interaction with products positioned at the very bottom of the funnel such as demos, free trials, buying guides, etc. MQL represents a greater depth of engagement with the brand than ordinary leads, but they have not reached the buying process. 

When a salesperson starts following up with an MQL and learns that the prospect has reached a certain lead scoring, the MQL becomes a sales qualified lead ( SQL). SQL is the next stage in the sales process that shows that the sales department now officially views the prospect as a sales lead. In simple language, MQL has not entered the buying phase, while SQL is actively shopping. Therefore, turning MQLs into SQLs is a major KPI shared between marketing and sales.

How are MQLs are qualified?

MQL is a lead, who reads a few blogs, signs up for the newsletter, engages on social media, or downloads an email- gated eBook. In other words, marketing can tell that leads are interested in the brand and the content on your website. But they haven’t yet done anything to suggest that they’re interested in actually entering the buying stage.

How are SQLs are qualified? 

SQL on the other hand is a lead who not only reads but shares their contact information. They show their interest in buying the product and might sign up for a demo of the product, or even put an item into their virtual cart. They may have a word with a sales rep through the chatbox and expressed a direct interest in buying the product or something similar. In other words, the salesperson can say they are on the path to purchasing.

Why are MQLs and SQLs are important

The main purpose of MQL and SQL is to make your marketing and sales processes more efficient. Lead generation and nurturing need a lot of time, money, and effort – so you want to make sure you’re bringing in high-quality leads that are likely to buy from you.

At the same time, there’s a limit to how much you can automate on the sales side of things. Your sales team should only be spending time on leads that are almost guaranteed to turn into customers and the rest of their efforts should focus on boosting existing customers to make further purchases. Here, having the right MQL and SQL will help you in every stage of your sales funnel. Not only that, you can turn lead qualification into an advanced lead nurturing strategy that delivers targeted messages to prospects based on how they interact with your brand.

Handing off MQL to sales

Till now, you must have understood the MQL and SQL definitions, you know which leads fit where — but now you must decide when and how to pass qualified sales leads to the sales team.

First, both marketing and sales teams must understand the entire customer lifecycle:

  • The company generates subscribers and leads through content and social media marketing. The customer subscribes to the blog or downloads an ebook but doesn’t provide any sales-closing information yet (only a name and email address, for example)
  • The prospect reads through the ebook and visits your site to learn more about your products, services, and prices. At this stage, the lead is considered an MQL and requires additional nurturing by the marketing team.
  • The marketing team follows and retargets with a demo ad in several locations. After converting on a demo request post-click landing page that asks for more qualifying information (job title, ad spend, software used, etc.), the lead is more likely an SQL at this point.

This smooth transition from an MQL to an SQL depends on how well sales teams and marketing teams work together and share data. Discuss what information is required to pass along, and what the follow-up will look like based on lead intelligence and behavior. The more aligned the two teams’ goals are — and the better their communication — the more productive lead generation will be.

Now that you have an understanding of how MQL and SQL criteria can vary, you can look into your leads and customers to see how you can better define what an MQL and SQL means for you, so you can pass better leads along to sales and work together to find and convert more ideal customers.

Need help to generate sales qualified leads?

Let the experts at FunnL help you generate sales qualified meetings directly. With an experience of generating 10,000+ sales qualified meetings (SQMs), FunnL provides you with an all-in-one Inside Sales Platform that permits you to design, manage, measure, and optimize your inside sales campaigns. If you wish to increase your productivity and generate a higher number of sales qualified meetings contact us and book your appointment.


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