Marketing Qualified versus Sales Qualified Leads

Get marketing and sales speaking the same language about leads and your sales will grow.

Anyone who has spent time in sales, marketing or managing teams in these areas has heard this tale. Honestly, it’s one as old as time. Sales says the marketing leads are worthless. Marketing says sales isn’t working the records enough to determine if they are any good. And the argument plays on in a constant loop. Well, now is the time to set the parameters to make the teams accountable and get them working together.

The terms we will use are “marketing qualified leads” or “MQL” and “sales qualified leads” or “SQL”. This effort is the foundational building block of everything we do at Sales Surge. Marketing, whether its direct mail, targeted email campaigns, cold call qualification efforts, or social media selling efforts, pulls a wide list. A landscaping company wants all homeowners in a three town area. A payroll services company looks for companies in their service area with over 100 employees. Lists like this are easy to pull. And they are perfect to market to. These are marketing qualified leads (MQL’s).

Your marketing efforts against the MQL’s should drive engagement. This could be driving inquiries to a landing page with a call to action as simple as a contact submission form. This is the exact point where we have the disconnect for most marketing and sales teams we work with. Marketing team says: “They filled out the contact us form so call them and close the sale!” The Sales team gets the contact information and finds out the company who filled out the form is too small to be a prospects. We then start the “these leads are garbage/sales doesn’t try hard enough” cycle again.

So what can we do to correct that disconnect?

It’s easier than you think. Your marketing and sales leaders need to get on the same page around ideal targets and sales roles. If the sales team is to focus on sales of a certain revenue size, the call to action contact form should require the collection of that data. Getting that information, along with full contact information allows the sales team to size and prioritize incoming prospects. The full contact information allows the team to research the point of contact on sites like Hoovers and LinkedIn.

This slight change in the information collected in the “call to action” process can give your sales team a number of ways to connect with a prospect interested in connecting with your business. Additionally, the information collected can be aggregated and reported on so the marketing team can improve their data requested for list pulls.

In the simplest terms, an MQL is a prospect that might need or want to receive messaging about your product or services. They meet high level demographic criteria that matches your customer base.

Any MQL interacting with your business after receiving marketing messaging becomes an SQL only if qualification criteria, agreed upon by the sales and marketing teams, is collected. This data could include opportunity sizing, level of buying interested, etc. but at the very least, it should include full contact information for the individual filling out the “call to action” contact form.

The premise is not to fully qualify a prospect or “make the sale” for the sales team prior to the sales team contacting the prospect. The idea here is to change the entry point of your sales efforts and shorten your sales cycle.

Another way to look at it is through the lens of the initial conversation:

Calling on an MQL:

“Hello. I’m calling from ABC Payroll Company. Can you tell me who in your office handles payroll distribution?”

“Great. Would they be available to answer a couple of quick questions about the size of your business and how payroll is currently handled?”

“Sure. I can leave them a voice mail.”

Calling on a SQL:

“Hello. I’m calling from ABC Payroll Company. I’m calling for Sally Jones, the HR Benefits and Payroll Manager. She asked me to speak to her about payroll services for your 200 employees. Is she currently available?”

In the conversation with the MQL, we have no idea who to speak to (so we are cold calling), how large the company is (size of opportunity) or how they handle payroll (need for product or services). If the MQL here turns out to be a prospect, all we did is lengthen the sales cycle, delaying revenue coming into your business. If the MQL turned out to not be a qualified prospect, your sales resource is wasting time on a contact record that will never deliver revenue for your business… ever.

By simply having the conversation between marketing and sales and then setting up the systems to collect the agreed upon data, you’ll dramatically reduce the friction between marketing and sales. You’ll also gain a new level of insight to your marketing prospect data. Lastly, this small change can increase close rates and shorten sales cycles for your sales team.

This effort is all part of the Marketing Surge we offer as part of our engagement program at Sales Surge.


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