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From MQL to SQL

Vicki O'Neill Cincinnati Marketing and Sales

Tip 4: Identifying the criteria and hand-off from MQL to SQL.

The above funnel should be familiar as you've probably seen multiple versions of the process from a Marketing and/or Sales perspective. I've combined both and included a definition for each step - most importantly and what this article is particularly focused on: MQL and SQL.

But first, a quick review of the definitions:

MQL: Marketing Qualified Leads refer to leads who have demonstrated enough interest and/or engagement with gated content such as downloading white paper, eBook or had multiple interactions across platforms such as emails, website and social channels. After a lead has been qualified by marketing, the lead is handed-off to Sales.

SQL: Sales Qualified Leads are MQLs who have decided they are interested in your particular brand's solutions and are ready to have a conversation about their specific pain point and your solution.

The reason this article is holistically on MQL and SQL is two-fold:

  1. These are pivotal points in the process and need to be identified separately.

  2. This is a "gray" area of the funnel because when the hand-off occurs, it will vary by company and existing processes already in place. It is critical, however, to have both teams included in this process to identify the criteria for the hand-off from Marketing to Sales.

As noted in the image with a triple asterisk ***, establishing the criteria is extremely important. Below are ideas on when and how this hand-off may occur:

  • Number of interactions overall

  • Engagement on 3 or more platforms, i.e. email, download, follow on a social channel

  • Number of visits to the solutions/pricing page of your website

  • Uses website chat for Q&A

  • Time between engagements, i.e. visits site on Day 1, Day 3 visits again but multiple web pages, Day 4 returns to download a white paper or eBook (determine the touch points and time between)

Two important points:

  1. If only Marketing is involved to develop the criteria - without any input or direction from Sales on their experiences and what type of customer is ideal from an inbound source - consider the value of those prospects as they enter Step #1. How valuable are they if they don't meet any criteria of the ideal customer (and the time and resources involved to try and convert them)?

  2. Now consider involving Marketing and Sales before the process even begins - and the value of each prospect, how quickly each can be moved through the funnel - when there's communication, internal team engagement and alignment on the criteria.

Consider the processes you currently have in place. Are Marketing and Sales involved in determining the criteria? If not, why? How can you take the lead on bringing the two teams together and have a refined and inclusive process in place?

More importantly, which do you think is more important: Point #1 or point #2? Comment below!

NEXT on the reading list: Who Owns the End Result?


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