What Are Marketing Qualified Leads And Why Do They Matter?

How are you handling your marketing qualified leads? Once you have a lead at the top of the sales funnel, you can’t just stop marketing and hope that initial lead turns into a sales-qualified lead (SQL). You need to keep your eye on your marketing qualified leads (MQLs) as well.

Don’t Forget the Lead in the Middle

Prospects, also known as contacts and leads, are the consumers at the top of your sales funnel. They have an initial interest in your product or service and might provide an email address or first name, in exchange for a report or other premium offer. However, they are only at the browsing stage and are definitely not ready to make a purchase yet.

At the bottom of your sales funnel are your sales qualified leads, also known as SQLs. These leads are ready to make a purchase. This is when your sales people need to be in contact, ready to provide additional information and incentives to finalize the sale.

Now there is plenty of room between the prospect and the SQL. This is where the marketing qualified lead (MQL) sits.

An MQL has moved beyond the browsing stage and is seriously evaluating whether your product or service meets certain criteria. They are looking at your competition as well. This is when your marketing needs to shift. An MQL needs more detailed information on your products and services, and needs to know how you differ from the competition. This information will help the MQL move towards the decision-making point.

[Read here to find out how to nurture leads with email marketing]

How Can You Tell if a Lead is Marketing Qualified?

To tell when a lead is moving towards the MQL stage, you need to gather pertinent data from the lead and monitor his/her activity on your website. Then, compare this information to past sales opportunities to determine what direction the prospect is moving towards.

  • Demographic data from the lead, like location, industry, and business size makes a difference. Also, how much do they want to spend? Is your product within their budget needs?
  • What types of actions are they taking on your website? Frequent visits added with downloading whitepapers or other detailed information is a good sign they are in this stage.
  • How similar are they to your past sales opportunities? If your typical customers are established companies with a large budget, a start-up with a limited budget may not be a good fit. That doesn’t mean that start-up won’t make a purchase, it is just less likely to happen.

The exact definition of what an MQL means to your company is something only you can define. But, no matter how you define MQLs, you cannot forget them in your marketing process. Forgetting them means less SQLs which means less final sales. And that defeats the purpose of marketing in the first place. The next step is learning how to engage marketing qualified leads until they move to being an SQL.

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