Businesses need buyers, that much is simple. Part of building your business is to ensure you have a solid sales and marketing plan. In particular, understanding how you handle the steps between marketing and sales. One process used is to leverage lead nurturing to build a rapport with consumers. This will lead to increasing the likelihood that they will buy what you’re selling. In this post, we are going to explore the difference between a Marketing Qualified Lead vs Sales Accepted Lead vs Sales Qualified Lead.
In a vast majority of cases, business owners will see better ROI (Return on Investment) from sales and marketing if their teams can focus on which consumers are the most interested in buying their company’s products. If you know exactly where these consumers are on the customer journey, you will be able to generate more revenue with fewer leads.
So how can this be done? Through lead qualification strategies, of course! The best way to sort through your leads for potential customers is to put them into three categories. These categories are marketing qualified leads, sales accepted leads, and sales qualified leads.
Let’s break down what these terms mean and the handoff between marketing and sales.
What is Lead Qualification?
Lead qualification is the process of putting a prospect into different categories, mainly as a consumer who has been contacted by and connected with your sales and marketing teams. Such leads would be further along in the customer journey than leads who, say, have just signed up for an email newsletter or clicked on a banner ad.
Lead generation funnels typically follow a very specific pattern that will change depending on the business in question. However, it can be broken down into different layers that are common across most businesses and industries:
- Engagement: These can include search engines, webinars, blogs, ads, social media posts, printed or physical advertisements, mail, trade shows, etc.
- Acquisition: This is the art of acquiring an email address (Either via a content upgrade, contest, newsletter signup, or some other form of gated content)
- Nurture: Generally, via email, but can be anonymously done with display advertisements and cooking users.
- Conversion: This is a general bucket which in this blog post we breakdown the handoff between sales and marketing
- Marketing qualified leads
- Sales accepted leads
- Sales qualified leads
- The actual customer conversion.
What is a Marketing Qualified Lead?
A marketing qualified lead (or MQL) is a consumer who is way more likely to make a purchase than a normal lead. A “normal” lead could refer to someone who viewed your business’s website or submitted a question to customer service. In many cases, those actions do not indicate that they are very interested in making a purchase. A MQL isn’t quite ready to buy. They need a bit more interaction before your sales team tries to make contact.
An MQL may be someone who has requested specific information or guides, signed up via a landing page for free content, or has viewed your product pricing page.
What is a Sales Accepted Lead?
A sales accepted lead (or SAL) is the spot where the first handoff happens between the marketing and the sales sides of your business. Essentially, the SAL is the “glue” that holds marketing and sales together when it comes to lead generation. This step also acts as a feedback spot where the sales team can help inform marketers on lead quality. It’s important for the sales and marketing teams to work together and have a steady collaborative plan in place when the consumer has arrived at this spot on the customer journey.
What is a Sales Qualified Lead?
A sales qualified lead (or SQL) is a lead who has shown significant interest in your product or service. One would be able to tell because these leads are asking a lot of specific questions. They want to speak to a representative and are waiting for that call. At this point, it’s up to your sales team to figure out how to effectively convert them into a paying (and possibly recurring) customer. This is the last stop on the lead generation funnel before the user ideally becomes a customer.
So the difference between a sales accepted lead vs sales qualified lead is the qualification by your sales team.
Why Do All of These Lead Types Matter?
Each type of lead is important in that they all must be treated differently to get to an end goal– a sale. Knowing where your leads are in the purchasing process could make the difference in landing the sale. The right piece of content, the right helpful hint, or the well-timed call are all going to be based on knowing where your prospects are in the buyers’ journey. Most CRMs allow you to track users through this process. The CRM can even provide automated ways of helping prospects along in their journey. HubSpot is one of the most popular platforms and does this really well.
You can do so much better at picking up your conversion rate by leveraging lead qualification to organize your leads. You might be surprised at how your ROI changes when you take this kind of approach.