B2B Marketing Blog

What's A Marketing Qualified Lead? Lead Stages Defined.

By Dave Rigotti
Sep 4, 2014
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As any great pipeline marketer will tell you, it's important to deeply understand all stages of the sales and marketing pipeline. In fact, it's a core component of pipeline marketing.

For sites with a short conversion path and decision journey, it's a fairly straightforward process. For companies with a sales cycles, it becomes a bit more tricky. Questions like "When is a lead ready for sales?" or "How do I get a lead ready for sales?" come up often. In fact, here's one from Quora:

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The best way to get started is to understand the terminology and the goal of lead nurturing.

New qualified leads (NQL) are new contacts in your system that have the potential to become a customers. They have not yet shown an interest in your offering however. For example, if you sell manufacturing equipment, a new qualified lead might be one for a business -- personal or consumer leads are not counted. Qualified leads can come from a number of sources, including paid media, organic, social media, referrals, and so forth.

Marketing qualified leads (MQL) are leads that have shown some initial interest in your product. For example, viewing specific feature pages on your website or opening a certain percentage of your nurturing emails. Marketing qualified leads are not yet ready to buy however.

Sales qualified leads (SQL) are leads that are ripe for sales interaction. They've not only shown an interest in your product, but have shown interest in getting your product. For example, they've requested more information (or a demo). This is typically where the handoff between marketing and sales happens or at least is started. Some companies place SQL after sales has accepted the leads and it's sales that determines the qualification.

Sales accepted leads (SAL) are leads that sales has placed into their process, based on agreed-upon criteria established between marketing and sales. Most often a sales qualified lead will become sales accepted, but in rare cases, such as the lead could not be contacted, they will not make it into this stage. This is arguably the most important transition in the funnel.

Once in the sales cycle, leads will, at least hopefully, then be converted into an opportunity and a closed won (customer).

The job of a lead nurturing program is to help move new qualified leads to marketing qualified and then to sales qualified. Sometimes this will happen over a span of one day and sometimes it will be many months and this is where lead nurturing and lead scoring can help. Bizible's advanded B2B marketing attribution solution helps you build a strong pipeline marketing campaigns that convert clicks into revenue.  If you're running AdWords, we make optimizing campaigns a snap with our AdWords Salesforce integration that matches revenue and cost so you can make decisions by ROI and profit, instead of leads.

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