Sales Qualified Leads: The Definitive Guide (2024)


Vikas Bhatt

sales qualified lead

Sales Qualified Leads: The Definitive Guide (2024)

We all need to understand 4 things right away:

  • Not every lead is sales-ready
  • This means that your sales team just wasted time in finding a needle in a hay stack
  • If your sales team aim at increasing your quality leads constantly (and focus only on that), your team will find more customers but also more and more stacks of hay
  • By doing this, you are making them less effective and productive

Each one of your lead is at a different stage of customer journey and you need to know it before your teams take ANY action.

Understanding Sales Qualified Lead is easier, if you know what Marketing Qualified Lead is. If you don’t, you need to read this first and then come back to SQL.

Sales Qualified Lead is vetted by both the marketing and the sales team. It has moved from being a Marketing Qualified Lead to a Sales Qualified Lead and indicates that the teams consider the lead ready for the next step in the sales funnel i.e. direct sales.

The companies generally follow a lead scoring metrics to lay out guidelines for defining Marketing Qualified Lead and Sales Qualified Lead. This helps the marketing team to hand over the lead to sales team on the lead attaining certain scores.

It is as simple as watering a plant after sowing the seeds (Marketing qualified lead to Sales Qualified Lead journey) before it could give you fruits (by becoming a customer).
You can know more about the MQL processes here.

What Exactly is Sales Qualified Lead

Sales qualified lead is defined as prospective customer or lead who has been researched and vetted by the organizations marketing department first and then by the sales team of the company and is deemed ready to move ahead for the next stage in the sales process.

Ideally, this lead is someone who is interested in your brand and has come to you either by organic way or through outreach by showing interest in your products up to a certain degree.

After your leads have expressed interest in your product, the details are shown to the sales team who will then vet the quality leads to further study the leads readiness to buy. At the final stage, the lead is cleared and then made to enter the next stage of the sales process.

The overall process of the sales qualified lead generation looks similar in almost all organizations with both the sales as well as the marketing team.

Must Read: MQL to SQL conversion rate

What is the basic difference between MQL and SQL?

The readiness to buy differentiate SQL from MQL. While your marketing team has to still nurture Marketing Qualified Lead and track their growing interest, Sales Qualified Lead is already ready to receive a sales calls.

SQLs are at a stage where they are weighing their options and could turn into your customers within the next 24 hours if provided with right incentives and information.

Think of it this way:

There is obviously some difference between SQL and MQL generation.

If you are the only one talking you are simply giving a lecture. When you lecture an audience to attract them to learn more about your product, you are giving out a grand image of a world which can be created with the products you sell.

Marketing is nothing but giving out a grand lecture, and when your prospects begin to ask questions, you begin to converse with them, fostering a connection that can lead to a sale without resorting to cold calling.

The biggest indicator and difference that your marketing qualified leads might be sales ready is their desire and willingness to convert your lecture into a conversation. It’s not that marketing does not involve any interaction.

Email responses, social media, opt-in forms, etc, are the types of communications that can happen during a marketing phase. These conversations are more commonly known as engagement.

These are the things, amongst others, that help a marketing team to score a prospect to study their sales-readiness.

However, the biggest difference between the engagement within the marketing lead and a funnel is when they are looking to start a conversation and who or what they are interacting to. This again will be different for each company.

The Step in the Middle

As per the definition, the layout of both marketing and sales teams are involved before the lead is moved officially in status to SQL.

In a lot of companies, this is done through a separate step called a sales accepted lead. Let’s see a quick break down of this usually speedy step. Once the scoring of the lead reaches a certain level, after which the marketing team alerts the sales team about it.

A sales rep then schedules a call with the lead to ask other information required for some qualifying questions.

This means that we have moved from the initial lecture to engagement and beyond to a conversation. Also, you may not necessarily pitch them in this call. It will be more of a direct call to learn if they are fit for your product.

You aren’t establishing a club through the exclusion of prospects but you are trying to avoid the customers that don’t really need your product and may not buy it anytime soon or ever for that matter.

Once the sales re-establishes, as per the sales qualified lead definition, that it is indeed qualified for the sales team it becomes an SQL. This means that they have not only accepted the fact that they want to buy your product but are also moving forward with the sales process.

What’s Next?

Now that you have landed the leads, what now, how do you go ahead with this?

The best thing about setting a sales funnel process can also be if only sometimes, a traditional sales rep’s biggest nightmare. In case your company has moved the process online to focus on how to generate leads for b2b sales more effectively, you can still use the reps to be all in one with marketing, customer service, and sales team. Your newly established SQL’s can come to a rep who thinks that the leads know nothing.

If you repeat the information and treat the leads as though they are uneducated, this can be a big problem for you.

The opposite of this can also be true. If the reps think that only people who say yes are going to make it through, they can get lazy and will not be able to close all that they could, fully.

If this happens, the sales team can get irritated with the marketing team for not sending proper leads their way. Sales Qualified Lead definition explains that the key to having a great lead generation process is the ability to differentiate between the SQLs and MQLs while handling the transfer of leads from the marketing team to the sales team.

But how do we know if your leads are Sales Qualified Leads?

Simple, we analyze their behavior closely.

  • Not every lead is sales-ready
  • Number of page views and the time spent on your web page
  • The specific page they have spent their time on
  • The downloadable material they have accessed
  • How many times have they opened your e-mails or clicked on CTAs
  • Returning to your website time and again

Read More – How to Know Whether Your Sales Qualified Leads Enough to be a Sales Ready Lead?

We also help you identify a Sales Qualified Lead by establishing a Lead Score System (LSS) – numerical sales qualified lead criteria which help to define Sales Qualified Leads thereby indicating the stage at which marketing hands it over to sales. LSS is a scoring system which assigns a value to each step of progress.

Why choose ONLY B2B?

  • We use BANT systems (Budget, Authority, Needs, Timeline) when qualifying leads. Basically, we see
    • Does your prospect have the budget to buy?
    • Does your prospect have the authority to buy?
    • Does your prospect have a need for your product/services?
    • When is your prospect looking to buy?
  • We also use several other behavior signals to score leads. For example, responding to e-mails, registering for a webinar, revisiting your page several times etc.
  • We deliver 100% High Quality Leads using multiple Lead Generation techniques.
  • We can also help your sales team in incentivizing SQLs to buy right away

We also ensure that –

The most legitimate leads are handed over to the sales. After all, only 25% leads are legitimate according to Gleanster

We nurture the leads carefully and ensure that they convert into sales. According to VentureBeat, Buyers can be as much as 90% of the way through buying process before they reach out to the salesperson which make nurturing all the more important

We follow up regularly with the leads because we know that a lead requires 8- 10 marketing-driven “touches” to convert from the top of the funnel into a paying customer.

Read this insightful article about MQL criteria.

Once your lead enters into the Sales Qualified Lead stage, we ensure conversion by using a few strategies like

  • Prepping work: A journey from being a visitor to SQL weaves a story around their needs. We use it to make a compelling and personalized marketing move
  • Seek to understand: We make a conversation with the leads so they know we aim to solve a problem and not just sell
  • Follow up: This is a very important step. Sometimes people are busy or forget about your calls. A Harvard Business Review found that 71% of qualified leads are never followed up with.

Must Read: How the lead generation strategies in USA market differ from the rest of the world

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