Everything You Need to Know About Mqls and Sqls and Why They Still Matter

The goal for most B2B companies is to make money by creating a revenue stream that allows them to grow, expand and achieve their business goals. This is usually achieved by generating leads that are passed from the marketing team to the sales team. 

This transfer requires that marketing and sales teams work together to create a streamlined and efficient process. The timing of the transfer is essential because it can have a big impact on whether a lead becomes a qualified lead and converts into a loyal customer. Handed over too early and the lead isn’t ready to buy, too late and they can be lost to competitors. 

This is where an understanding of MQLs and SQLs is essential because it helps your marketing and sales teams spend their time wisely. 

What are MQLs?

MQLs (Marketing Qualified Leads) have indicated their interest in your products or services. They may have requested a free demo, downloaded a product or signed up for a webinar. They are also someone who can actively purchase your products or services (a decision maker) and are happy to receive further information from your company. 

Essentially, MQLs are a step up from regular, non-qualified leads, because they have shown interest in your products or services. However, they are at least 12 months away from making a purchase, so there’s no guarantee of actually making a sale.

What are SQLs?

SQLs (Sales Qualified Leads) are MQLs that have been identified by the marketing team as being ready to make a purchase. In other words, they have entered the decision-making stage of the customer journey. They have made an appointment to speak with a member of your sales team, they intend to purchase within the next 12 months and they have already discussed their budget with the marketing team. 

To identify when MQLs are ready to make a purchase, marketing teams often use the BANT framework (Budget, Authority, Need and Timeline). This framework ensures that the MQL has the budget and the authority to make a purchase and intends to buy within a 2-month timeframe.

MQLs vs SQLs and why is this important?

Understanding the differences between MQLs and SQLs is important because it prevents your sales team from wasting precious time speaking to unqualified leads. Once the marketing team has identified an MQL, they can be passed on to your sales team for a more meaningful conversation resulting in a sale.

SALs vs SQLs vs HQLs

Companies often use additional acronyms that help define the different stages of the customer journey.  One of these terms is SALs (Sales Accepted Lead) which is an SQL that has been transferred to and accepted by the sales team. Remember that an SQL is a lead that has been identified by the marketing team as ready to buy, becoming a SAL when they are transferred to the sales team. Another term is HQLs (High Qualified Leads) which is an SQL that has been accepted by the sales team and is equivalent to a SAL.  

Key questions for qualifying leads

Identifying MQLs is the first step in the customer journey that hopefully ends in a sale. However, successful lead generation depends on several factors including the maturity of the market and whether your products or services are newly launched or well-established. 

It also depends on the ability of your sales team to know the difference between a regular lead and an MQL, because not every lead is a good fit for your products or services. Persisting with a lead that hasn’t been qualified and most likely won’t ever make a purchase from your company is simply a waste of time and resources.

So here are three key questions that help your marketing team identify MQLs, manage them effectively and pass them on to your sales team. 

  1. Is the potential lead interested in buying your services or products?
  2. Is there a current or upcoming project that requires your products or services?
  3. Is the lead able to make the buying decision for their company?

Types of sales methodologies

Sales methodologies are important because pursuing qualified leads is more cost-effective than pursuing potential leads. So it’s the quality of the leads rather than the volume that’s crucial to your sales and revenue. This means that you need a lead generation strategy that works for your marketing team and improves your chances of identifying MQLs for your company. 

Four popular lead generation strategies are commonly used by B2B companies: BANT is commonly used by inside marketing teams that operate remotely and communicate with potential leads via phone, email, chat, Zoom and so on. The other three methods are used from the discovery calls onward.

  1. BANT: We’ve mentioned BANT (Budget, Authority, Need and Timeline ) earlier but essentially it’s based on the belief that the budget is the priority in qualifying a lead. It’s a simple strategy that qualifies leads quickly, saving time and shortening the sales cycle.  
  2. MEDICC: This strategy (Metrics, Economic Buyer, Decision criteria, Decision process, Identify pain and Champion), is more complicated than BANT because it’s not only a lead generation tool but also provides insights into the company that can increase your chances of a sale.
  3. SPIN: This strategy (Situation, Problem, Implication and Need/Payoff) is based on the belief that identifying pain points or challenges is the priority in qualifying a lead. You’re seeking to understand the lead’s current situation, allowing them to realise that your product or service is the solution.
  4. GPCT: This strategy (Goals, Plans, Challenges and Timeline) is a modified version of BANT and is based on the belief that goals are the priority in qualifying leads. You’re exploring their plans, goals and challenges and discovering what they need as a solution. 

Get quality leads with SalesPond

Are you struggling to get MQLs for your company? SalesPond offers SDR-As-A-Service which involves hiring our experienced SDRs to work full-time or part-time on one or more of your campaigns. It’s a cost-effective strategy that uses the BANT methodology to get your lead generation activities established quickly. We even nurture these leads so they are ready to be handed to your sales team. 

There’s also our Catch & Release Program where we provide the training and mentoring required for top-level SDRs who, following an onboarding process, join your team and fast-track your lead generation activities. 

If you want to know how to bridge the gap between marketing and sales, don’t hesitate to contact us – We look forward to helping you create many new growth opportunities!

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