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Leads: MQLs and SQLs

June 27, 2018

What kind of lead do you have and how do you know when marketing should pass the lead to sales for follow-up?

Lead generation in B2B marketing is critical. If you have a marketing team or work with a marketing agency, hopefully leads are coming in – but what happens when the quantity of leads surpasses the quality of leads? What it boils down to is knowing if your lead is an MQL (marketing qualified lead) or an SQL (sales qualified lead).

The New Customer Lifecyclemarketing qualified lead, mql, smarketing

The traditional way of handling leads started when a lead came in through a marketing channel. The marketing team would pass the lead to sales, and sales would follow up to close the deal. This model has changed in the B2B space as digital technologies and marketing channels evolved. For a B2B company with a sales cycle between 4-18 months, the customer lifecycle looks more like this:

Sales and Marketing Alignmentsales qualified lead, sql, smarketing

This model doesn’t fit every B2B company, but the basics remain the same. To move prospects successfully through these stages, you need marketing and sales alignment with set expectations set early on. Problems arise when marketing sends sales every lead that comes through the door because sales then wastes time qualifying leads that don’t belong in the database, leading to discouragement and eventually no longer following up on leads that come from marketing.

It’s not an easy task for companies who have kept sales and marketing separate, but it’s time to call a meeting to set ground rules. With sales, marketing, and upper management accounted for, determine what qualifies an MQL and an SQL. Set expectations for both the quality and quantity of MQLs marketing must bring in – with realistic expectations based on your industry and budget. Also, set up a communication plan so sales and marketing can comfortably talk to each other if needs change.

Document Your Processes

While you define these roles and expectations, you’ll need to document the information in a service-level agreement (SLA). An SLA documents goals, expectations, definitions of MQLs and SQLs, and the processes of handling leads that come in. Revisit the SLA monthly, or even weekly, to review the customer lifecycle and goals.

By documenting processes and expectations, you’re in a better position to turn leads into delighted customers. If you need help, look at some of our services here to get on the right path to generating better-qualified leads.

Sales and Marketing Collaboration Case Study

Topics: Leads-Sales

Claire Motz
Written by Claire Motz

As an account manager at Leading Results, Claire’s job is to tackle the day-to-day marketing efforts of her clients so they can focus on their business – not worry about marketing. Her creative, data-driven approach to inbound marketing sets her apart and gives clients the leading results they need. Claire works from her home in Cincinnati, so don’t be surprised if you spot her cat, Rue, walking across her desk during a video chat!

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