What is a Qualified Lead?
A sales-qualified lead (SQL) is a prospect created by the marketing department and vetted by the sales team. After the potential customer’s initial contact from marketing, sales continue the interaction exploring their interest and capability to purchase. If sales adds them in their queue, the lead is deemed “qualified” as a viable prospect, with problems that fit the solution being offered by the seller. Now let’s explore how to compare that to an unqualified sales lead.
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How do We Compare Qualified and Unqualified Leads?
We know with digital and outbound marketing and sales, our goal is to segment potential leads into one of two categories – qualified leads and unqualified leads. Leads can switch from one category to the other with help from nurture campaigns. But really, what’s the difference? Why isn’t a lead just a lead? Below are ways in which we typically compare unqualified and qualified leads.
❌ Unqualified Leads:
- Have not been nurtured enough to close their sales cycle.
- Are often unsure of what your company offers.
- Don’t know what they’re looking for in a solution yet.
- Your product or service is out of their price range.
- While it is possible to convert unqualified leads into customers, the churn rate is sky-high.
✅ Qualified Leads:
- Have completed or are in the process of completing your nurture campaign cycle.
- Are in control of their own buying cycle, completing their own educational research.
- Have brainstormed and listed their exact needs in a solution.
- Have a clearly defined budget to work with and are researching solutions within their means.
- Customers that come from qualified leads typically have low churn rates because they close on their own terms.
How do You Define Sales-Qualified Leads?
While generating new business and increasing the conversion rate is the ultimate goal, qualified sales leads are a major step in the sales process. So how do you define qualified sales leads? Internally, your company’s sales and marketing departments can work together to define your own parameters for both types of leads. Get customer service involved in the process too, since they have experience training customers and are knowledgeable about churn rates and reasons.
Is coming up with your own definitions tougher than you thought? It doesn’t have to be. Start by brainstorming your ideal buyer – their background, industry, size, everything. This will help you discover the experience and problem-solving skills you need to build off of. After your buyer personas are defined, you’ll need to determine your marketing-qualified and sales-qualified leads.
Make sure that your website and blog are filled with content that can be consumed for each stage in the sales cycle. This ensures that unqualified leads can learn more about your company and, in turn, learn more about their needs. Qualified and successful leads can also continue their educational processes, and since you’re already monitoring and scoring their website activity, simultaneously push themselves through the sales funnel.
Want to learn more about the ins and outs of lead generation? Download “The Lead Generation Strategy Guide” for more insider information.