How to Tell If your Lead is Sales Qualified?

The marketing and sales team are active players in a blame game. While the sales team thinks the team responsible for marketing shared only contacts (read, un-qualified leads), the marketing team blames the sales people for not being able to convert all the excellent qualified leads they handoff.

Sound familiar?

According to Marketing Sherpa, 61 percent of B2B marketers send all of their leads to sales even though only 27 percent are actually qualified. Not only this, but sales reps also ignore 50 percent of the marketing qualified leads according to a study by the TAS Group.

Are you wondering why the percentages are so high?

This is because there is a lack of understanding of what a qualified lead is. Each team works on their own terms and definitions, which not only creates confusion in the long run but results in frustration and lost revenues.

In this blog, we will cover what makes a sales qualified lead, how a lead fit into the buyer’s journey, how to score leads, how many sales qualified leads do you need, and much more.

Customer Qualification Cycles: MQL vs. SQL

Not understanding the difference between the two is one of the primary reasons marketers endup spending time on unqualified leads who are not interested and don’t want to be sold anything.

MQLs show repeated interest in your content (not necessarily your product or services) and are likely to become your customers. Simply put, they have become the handraisers from your potential customer pool. However, remember that MQLs are not really ready to buy, but they will respond to your strategic nurturing.

SQLs, on the other hand, are much further along in their buyer journey and are ready for sale. They fit perfectly into your buyer persona and are likely to talk with a sales representative.

One of the defining differences amongst them is the readiness to buy. An MQL is likely NOT ready to buy your product today, but SQL is a qualified lead that can be approached by your sales rep immediately.

If we had to sum it up in one line, we would say:

The primary difference between an MQL and SQL is that MQL is a visitor who is aware of their problem. At the same time, SQL is a lead who knows that your product or service may be the solution to their problem.

Keep in mind:

Moving from MQL to SQL is timesensitive, and as a digital marketer, you do not want to miss that window. By having a sound understanding of the buyer’s journey and their qualification cycle, you can determine where leads are and pass it on to the sales team.

How Does it Really Fit Into Your Buyer’s Journey

The buyer’s journey is usually made up of three stages: awareness, consideration, and decision.

Each of these stages also represents the qualification of leads.

At the (first) awareness stage, you are dealing with a particular lead. When the lead starts considering your product or service, your potential buyers have transitioned to MQLs status. Finally, when the leads start showing interest in your product or service as a solution to their pain points, they have become a qualified sales lead. They are ready to be approached by your sales rep.

So, what is your very first step towards knowing when to tell your salespeople if the lead is qualified?

Align your Sales and Marketing Teams

To analyze conversion from MQL to SQL, you need a strong relationship between the two departments. Knowledge about customer profiles, target markets, and behavior shared between marketing and sales will help you in pinpointing, which leads still need to be nurtured and which are ready to go through the sales process.

So You are looking out for answers to:

  • What does the ideal lead looks like?
  • Why are some of the leads disqualified at the end?
  • Which content type or how many of these pieces have successful leads used?
  • Which referral source has the highest closing rates?

This logically brings us to next question: how do you combine this information to skyrocket conversion rates to ensure you maximize revenue?

Lead Scoring Metrics

Let’s get one thing straight. Not every lead is salesready. But, leads can be nurtured, you know?

If your marketing department starts sending every inquiry to the sales department, you will only waste your sales team’s time, which makes for not-so-great customer experiences. At times, those leads are just students who want to read your e-book for an assignment or to study for a course test. Sometimes they can be job-seekers who are frantically looking to gather as much info as they can.

Hence, it is important to analyze the intent of every lead carefully. And, to interpret this intent, you should have an effective behavioral yardstick—you require detailed lead scoring metrics.

As discussed earlier, MQLs are the hand-raisers among the leads. Meaning, they are more engaged with you but not ready to buy or talk to a salesperson yet. Therefore, you have to be very careful in selecting the basis, and only high interest activities should trigger a transition from a lead to MQLs. For instance: revisiting product and services spec page, the pricing page, reading most of your mails, leaving items in the cart, etc.

While most of your time is spent creating accurate metrics around MQLs, the transition from MQL to SQL is rather simple to identify. It might look like signing-up for free trials or setting up a discovery call with the sales staff, or any other similar activity.

You need to sit down with both teams and draw the lead scoring metrics to eliminate any “guesswork” from the cycle. You can also make use of your marketing automation software (if any) to set up a lead scoring system that assigns a value to each of your action. These actions might involve email activity, website activity, the number of downloads, or social media interactions.

Take a look at SnapApp’s example of a lead scoring system:

Once a lead reaches a decided threshold, it should be automatically assigned to the sales department.

While deciding a threshold is so obvious, 46 percent of B2B marketers have NOT setup a lead scoring threshold that will auto alert or route leads to sales.

While your lead scoring system will consist of adding up scores, you will benefit if you include negative scoring for particular actions. For instance, if a qualified lead has all of a sudden stopped interacting with your products after signing up for a free trial and does not respond to any mails.

When qualifying your leads, here are the essential things to think about at each level:

Organization level: At this particular level, you are asking fundamental questions like whether or not the lead fits into the buyer persona you have set up.

Opportunity level: This is a very critical level to qualify leads .

At this stage, you are asking:

  • If the potential lead requires your product or services
  • Whether the lead can purchase and use
  • Whether your product can solve their pain point

Stakeholder level: At this level, you ask BANT (budget, authority, need, and time) relevant questions.

If your lead:

  • Has enough authority to make the purchase
  • Has the budget
  • Requires your solution ASAP or they have the time to shop around.

That is all!

Now, you know when to tell your sales reps if the lead is sales qualified.

When the leads are qualified strategically and properly, everyone is happy. Customers feel you understand their needs. Marketing teams feel appreciated that their leads were approached nicely, and the sales team is happy with the lead quality because they sealed the deal.

Finally, it keeps you away from selling to those who don’t want to buy.

When do you tell your sales reps that the lead is sales qualified? Which is one of the most crucial lead metrics? Let’s us know in the comments section.