What is an MQL and Why Is It So Important in the Sales Process?
MQL stands for marketing qualified lead; a lead or prospect whose engagement levels indicate that they are likely to become a customer.
An MQL is a prospect that has demonstrated interest in a product or service, most likely as a result of receiving an email and visiting a website. For example, the prospect might have clicked on a call to action, filled in a web form, downloaded content, or signed up for a newsletter. They have shown a higher level of interest beyond just sharing contact data. Each of these interactions is assigned a lead score. These metrics are intended to help sales and marketing department to determine where the visitor is in the buying cycle. It is then the marketing department’s job to nurture the lead.
You are probably also familiar with SQLs. Sales qualified leads indicate immediate interest in a product, whereas MQLs suggest more general interest that will require significant nurturing and education to convert into SQLs.
If you think of it like a sales funnel, an MQL prospect will be at the widest part at the top of the funnel and an SQL at the narrowest part at the bottom. For an MQL to become and SQL it needs to be nurtured though a clever mix of multi-touch marketing activities, which gently coax the prospect from top to bottom of the funnel. Lead scoring along this journey enables sales team to prioritise sales activities and opportunities.
How does an MQL become and SQL?
At the stage in the process highlighted above, MQLs are generally sent more information about your company/products/services. Alternatively, you might choose to send them promotions and offers that will push this prospect along the route to becoming an SQL. For example, free product trials, or consultations. If the MQL accepts these offers, then they become an SQL and are passed on to sales for follow up.
It’s important to respect the sales process and how prospects move from MQL to SQL, this phase is important and should not be rushed. Anything labelled as an SQL needs to be a real opportunity so as not to waste precious sales and marketing funds and resources.
Understanding the difference between MQLs and SQLs will help you get the right leads, and only the right leads, from marketing to sales. It helps to have a qualification strategy that sorts the ready from the not-ready into the correct silos. Your development and handling of MQLs and SQLs could be the difference between making or losing a sale. Sales and marketing need to work closely with to determine the best way to bridge communication and move the relationship forwards to conversion.