MQL to SQL: Qualify your leads in 4 steps

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Posted by Intentify Demand

In sales, timing is everything. In fact, 76 percent of sales professionals consider timing to have “an extreme or substantial impact on converting a prospect to a customer.”

Indeed, timing is the difference between converting a lead and losing a sale. But how do you strike the balance between reaching out too early, or leaving it too late?

Understanding where a lead sits in the buyer’s journey will be key. Then you can target your messaging to them with the information they want to know, when they want to know it.

Marketing Qualified Leads vs Sales Qualified Leads

A marketing-qualified lead (MQL) is a lead who shows interest in your brand. For instance, they may have downloaded marketing resources or repeatedly visited your website.

These are curious, promising leads. They’re considering your services and are open to additional resources from your company.

On the other hand, a sales-qualified lead (SQL), is someone who is ready to make a purchase. As such, they’re primed for direct, personal attention from the sales team.

The question is, how do you convert an MQL to SQL?

Moving an MQL to an SQL

Not every MQL will become an SQL.

If you move leads to sales too early, they may not be ready for a conversation yet. If you move them along too late, you might lose them to your competitors.

So, before you make any sudden moves, you’ll need to consider what steps to take—and when you should take them.

1. Make sure your leads are ready for attention

Lead scoring metrics will allow you to determine how close leads are to converting. Some metrics you’ll want to consider are:

  • Source. Some lead channels will produce leads who are further along in the buyer’s journey. For example, an MQL who came through your site using a relevant search term is more qualified than one who clicked a link on a social media post.
  • Firmographics. This data will tell you about the company the MQL works for, with information on industry, company size, location, as well as things like annual revenue.
  • Behaviour. How long did your MQL spend on a particular web page? How quickly did they scroll through it? This can tell you what interests them in particular, and what their pain points are. Similarly, the resources they download from your site can be a good indication of where they are in the sales funnel. For instance, downloading a software comparison guide suggests they’re in the consideration stage.

2. Reach out with personalised communications

You understand why a lead visited your site. You also know valuable information about their company.

So why not use this information in your communications?

After all, personalisation pays off. It can reduce acquisition costs by as much as 50 percent and increase marketing spend efficiency by 10–30 percent.

Armed with the right data, you can target leads with email campaigns specific to their goals and challenges.

3. Share case studies and testimonials

You’ve piqued your lead’s interest. Now, it’s time to provide proof. Customer success stories will go some way in showing you’re a good fit.

Your data will serve you well here. For instance, if you know a lead works in a certain industry, choose a case study of a customer in the same field. Essentially, it should mirror what their journey will look like as closely as possible.

4. Continuously improve

If your lead isn’t ready to move down the funnel, that’s okay. After every rejection, brush yourself off and evaluate your approach.

Where did you go wrong? Was it the timing? The messaging? Was it the data backing up your insights?

Pinpoint what you could do better next time around. Then, get back on the horse and improve until you get it right.

Perfect your timing with purchase intent data

Thirty-four percent of sales professionals say that prospecting and lead qualification is their biggest challenge. But timing can make all the difference. It can help you qualify your MQLs to SQLs, because you’ll target your leads with the right messaging when they want to hear from you.

That said, knowing when to hang back or make your move isn’t easy. If you’re struggling to determine the right time to target your leads, it may be time to dive into purchase intent data. It can tell you where they are in the sales funnel, and remove the likelihood of you reaching out too early, or too late.

At Intentify Demand, we use 1st party data to find the best-fit leads for you. And, we assign each lead a numerical value. So, you can easily determine where they are in the pipeline, and when they’re ready to make that all important step from marketing to sales.

If you’d like help in moving your MQLs further down your sales funnel, get in touch.