The Hand Off: From a Marketing Qualified Lead To a Sales Qualified Lead

by | Sales Enablement

When on the ice, Chicago Blackhawks Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane know just how to connect. They read each other, they know their plays, and they work together to turn assists into game-winning goals. With just a little less ice and without the shoulder pads, your Sales and Marketing Teams can work together to turn leads into sales in a similar manner.
But, just as Toews and Kane have to read one another and internalize their plays, both Sales and Marketing have to work together in establishing how and when a lead gets passed from Marketing to Sales.
So when should Marketing make the pass to Sales to score a goal? How can you tell if you’re handing off leads too early? The answer lies in the establishment of what it means to be a Marketing Qualified Lead or a Sales Qualified Lead, rather than just a website visitor. And it takes both players, Sales and Marketing, to establish these meanings.
As we all know, the last thing we want to do is pass an unqualified lead onto Sales. This results in wasting both the lead’s and your Sales Team’s time. Therefore, knowing when to pass a lead and what determines a Marketing Qualified Lead and a Sales Qualified Lead is essential.
First, let’s take a quick step back to define Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) and Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs). A MQL is a website visitor, usually a repeat visitor, who has shown interest in some way, whether that be reading your blogs, downloading an eBook, or subscribing to an email list. Typically, MQLs are ready for some human contact from your Marketing Team—hence, they are Marketing Qualified.
Similarly, a SQL is a lead that is ready to be handed off to Sales. Either that, or they have already had some level of engagement with a member of the Sales Team. Unlike a MQL, a SQL is further along in the buyer’s journey.
But how will your Sales and Marketing Teams know which website visitors are MQLs, and know which MQLs are SQLs? Well, this is just another area where these teams can work together. As every salesperson knows, the highest priority of a lead generation strategy is to find qualified leads, leads who are likely to become customers. To do this, Sales and Marketing must agree first on what qualifies an MQL, and then what qualifies an SQL. Though the criteria for an MQL and SQL will undoubtedly vary from company to company, the following are samples of criteria your teams might use:

  • How many times has this visitor visited your website?
  • How many times has this visitor filled out forms to download content?
  • Which blogs has this visitor read?
  • Has this visitor downloaded eBooks, white papers, or other content?
  • Based on these questions, where do you think this visitor is in the buyer’s journey?
  • Based on the forms this visitor filled out, which of your buyer personas does he or she fit into?
  • Has this visitor interacted with you on any other platforms, like email, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.?

By answering questions like these, Sales and Marketing can agree on a set of characteristics to determine if a visitor is indeed an MQL.
Then, to determine if a lead is an SQL, Sales and Marketing should ask similar questions again and determine what level of engagement will characterize an SQL. Will it be after a lead downloads a certain eBook? A certain number of eBooks? Fills out a specific field on a form? Requests pricing information or a consultation?
Just as Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are always in sync when turning an assist into a goal, having these criteria established and in mind will help your Sales and Marketing Teams work together to convert a lead into a sale at just the right time.
Once you’ve got that sorted out and Sales and Marketing are on the same page, uncover some LeadGen tips to bring the MQLs in. Download the eBook below.

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