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IQL, MQL, SQL: What does it all mean?

IQL, MQL, SQL What does it all

79% marketing leads never convert to sales.

Picture this:

Your marketing team generates vast quantities of leads while operating under a set of ambiguous and vague lead qualification procedures. Thus, keeping the quality of their generated leads a mystery.

The marketing team then keeps sending these new leads to the sales team for follow-ups and conversions even though only a small percentage of those leads actually want to make a purchase.

It doesn’t matter how perfect your sales team’s tactics are or how charming their pitch is, they would not be able to sell anything to the majority of those leads. The sales team puts all their hard work in calling and corresponding with hundreds of unqualified leads, wasting their precious time and your precious money.

This will lead to an inevitable conflict between the sales team and the marketing.

All these problems could have been averted if both the teams took time out to clearly define their lead qualification parameters.

Sending all new leads into the sales funnel without qualifying them screams disaster! Qualifying is gathering all insights necessary to make better judgments and only after properly qualifying a lead can a marketer know whether the lead is worth the time and effort it will take to sell to them.

Qualified Leads

There are three levels that all leads must be funneled through before getting considered as a “sales qualified” lead.

To increase the chances of leads becoming potential paying customers and increasing the customer base, a sufficient supply of quality leads need to be generated. Access to quality leads is one of the fundamental essentials that lead to business growth.

Information Qualified Lead (IQL)

A lead that provides their contact information in return for useful information can be categorized as an Information Qualified Lead. This prospect is at the beginning of their research process and usually doesn’t know your company or the solutions you provide.

Once the IQL provides their contact, your marketing automation platform will direct them to a thank you page that holds a link to download the offer and then they receive a follow-up email with the same download link. As the days go by, the lead will receive additional information that is related to the information they initially downloaded.

These leads are cold leads and have a very low priority when it comes to sales follow-ups. The marketing team can offer the lead the opportunity to learn more about your company and how you can help solve their problem.

Many IQLs will not move onto the next stage once they get their initial information.

Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)

If the marketing team is successful in piquing the interest of the IQL in solving the problem they were researching for and they proceed to download company product information, then congratulations you have a Marketing Qualified Lead also known as a warm lead.

The marketer can either continue marketing to this lead providing more information about your company or he could guide the MQL to the decision stage by offering things like free trials, demos, free consultations, estimates/quotes or coupons.

In order to develop a proper definition to Marketing Qualified lead, the sales and marketing teams must work in alignment. Without a clear definition and a buy-in from both sides, the MQL stage won’t work out too well for your organization. To know whether your lead is sales-ready, the marketing and sales teams need to create a proper lead scoring system. Once it is deemed as sales opportunities, marketers need to properly qualify leads for sales, by using the right lead qualification framework.

Even though the alignment of the sales and marketing team is the hardest part of the process, it is a wise investment of time that will result in better-qualified leads, shorter sales cycles, and more sales quotas met.

Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)

The Sales Qualified Lead is also called a hot lead as the faster the sales team follows up with the lead, the higher is the closing rate. The salesperson has a conversation with the lead that helps them determine whether it is an actual opportunity, even if it is not an immediate one then at least a potential one.

This gives the sales team more power as they are now aware of a real pain and an actual fit that they can address. This makes the lead sales qualified. Content needs to help your sales team close, drive home your organizational strengths and how they can best take advantage of those strengths to solve their problems. The content can include testimonials, product demos, free trials or coupons, case studies, and product or pricing sheets.

Managing MQLs and SQLs

In order to effectively manage all marketing qualified leads and Sales Qualified Leads, it is imperative that both the sales and marketing teams are well aligned. Both the teams need to be on the same page on their definition of a qualified lead and the path the visitor must take on your website in order to move from being an MQL and SQL to the final customer. They must also agree on a proper content strategy plan that gives different types of content to customers based on the stage they are at in the buying journey.

Productive sales reps, successful customers, time to close, and good forecasting are things that you can look at in your business that are indicators of a good qualifying process.

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