Why Your Sales Team Need to Know the Difference Between Marketing and Sales-Qualified Leads

Despite the fact that sales leads are the lifeblood of any company, focusing on quantity over quality, and having a funnel filled with cold and unqualified leads, can waste time and harm your business, while a focus on generating fewer, high-quality leads can improve overall ROI. While it may seem counterintuitive, having fewer leads can actually help sales teams to be more productive, by allowing them to focus only on qualified leads.

Though the definition of “qualified” varies from business to business, a qualified lead is usually a lead that has been vetted and deemed ready to move on in the sales process. Demographics, activities and behaviours, as well attributes such as industry, website and marketing technology, geography, and number of employees and sales, are usually used to determine whether a lead is qualified.

The BANT Test for Leads

A marketing-qualified lead (MQL) will be different from a sales-qualified lead (SQL), and will be vetted by different parameters.

MQLs will usually be leads who have spent time on your website, filled in forms or signed up for newsletters, while a SQL will often be a lead that has indicated initial interest in the company’s products or services.

Most leads should at least pass the basic BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeline) test: (1) do they have the budget for the product or service you provide? (2) do they have the authority to make purchasing decisions? (3) do they have a problem your product or service can solve? (4) can it be delivered in a timeline that suits both parties?

Nurturing Marketing Qualified Leads

Four ways to improve the lead quality of marketing qualified leads, and generate sales-ready leads include:

Qualifying Questions

Though shorter forms can improve the conversion rate, sometimes it can be necessary to compromise. Adding qualifying questions that help to identify pain points can help sales reps to create relevancy in conversations, while questions about decision-making time frames can help reps to prioritize which leads should be followed-up on immediately and which should be nurtured further.

Scoring Leads

Assigning your leads a score based on data gathered from forms will allow the sales team to focus on the highest quality leads, and also avoid conversations with leads that are unlikely to convert.

Alternatively, a blended scoring and grading system can rank leads based on their numerical score (indicating their level of interest in your product or service) and a letter grade (indicating how well they would fit your business.) This can also help to ensure that only the highest quality leads are passed to the sales team.

Splitting the Lead Funnel

In many companies, the lead funnel is simple, leading from visitors, to leads, to customers. Splitting the lead funnel by analyzing close-rates of different types of leads will give your reps the ability to focus most of their energy on the highest quality leads.

Nurturing Leads

Not every lead is sales-ready and leads who aren’t should be separated into a “nurturing” funnel where they can kept engaged and educated until they become sales ready.

Separating leads who aren’t quite ready to close will improve productivity by making sure that sales aren’t wasting their time and energy on a lead who isn’t ready to make a deal

While marketing automation can assist in lead qualification, allowing marketing teams to screen any leads  before the sales team even sees them, a human touch is necessary. Understanding the difference between a warm lead and a good lead is also important, as a warm lead should be nurtured, while a good lead should be passed directly to the sales team.

A warm lead will show interest in your company’s offerings such as white papers, blog posts, or other educational content, while a good lead will show intent – such as visiting the pricing page or requesting a trial or contact.

Ke Poyurs
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