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Lead Generation

MQLs and SQLs and the difference between them

Helen Bailey

Lead generation is a hot topic in the B2B realm and, although the outcomes can differ among companies, the aim of it is always to cultivate and collect information about prospects so that it can be used for commercial gain.

But when it comes to lead generation, not all leads are considered equal. Serious marketers and business professionals often categorise them into two: Marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and sales qualified leads (SQL’s).

Here is the difference between the two:

Marketing qualified leads (MQLs)

An MQL is the contact information of a prospect who’s shown a real interest in what a company has to offer. They’ve engaged with the company’s marketing efforts, like visiting the website, downloading content, or interacting on social media.

Once the marketing team identifies an MQL, they pass them to the sales team for further nurturing. Not all MQLs will turn into paying customers, but they’re leads with a lot of potential. Ideally, a proportion of them will get passed to the sales department so that they can be ‘warmed up’ and converted further down the sales pipeline.

At this point the MQL becomes an ‘SQL’ – or a Sales Qualified Lead.

Sales qualified leads (SQLs)

An SQL takes the form of a potential customer that has taken significant steps towards becoming a paying customer. They’ve gone beyond just showing interest and have engaged in actions that indicate a higher level of readiness to make a purchase. This could include requesting a quote, scheduling a demo, or expressing specific buying intent.

SQLs are identified by the sales team based on predefined criteria and are prioritised for direct sales outreach. While not all SQLs will convert, they are the leads that sales teams focus on to close deals and drive revenue.

However your business categorises leads, you know that you want as many as you can of them.

In our blog ‘Search marketing as a lead generation tool’ we look at how digital marketing can be used to collate them.