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What Are Sales Qualified Leads and Why Do They Matter?

September 6, 2017

By Sarah Hecker

What Are Sales Qualified Leads and Why Do They Matter-1.jpg

In a recent article, we discussed the importance of marketing qualified leads and why they matter to your organization. We’ve also discussed how you can turn your MQLs into SQLs through lead nurturing. This article will take the next step and take a look at the definition of sales qualified leads and specific advice for engaging with these contacts.

What Are Sales Qualified Leads?

SQLs are contacts whom your team has accepted as worthy of a direct sales follow-up. These contacts will have been more engaged with your content, requesting sales info or other bottom of the funnel offers, such as a demo request or free trial. These contacts would subsequently be qualified and deemed ready to move further down the sales funnel.

Now that you have a definition for SQLs, what does this mean for your marketing and sales strategy?

Deliver the Right Message

Have you ever given your contact information to a business, only to immediately regret it when salespeople begin to bombard you with emails? Nothing turns someone off faster than a poorly timed sales pitch. If the most I’ve done on your website is subscribe to your blog, chances are I’m not ready or willing to participate in a demo of your product.

You might also like our guide: Busy Inbound Marketer's Guide to Generating  Leads Online

Categorizing your contacts by a lifecycle stage, and further segmenting your emails and content by these stages, can ensure that you aren’t bombarding brand new contacts with requests to see a demo, or other sales pitches. It can also prevent you from bombarding contacts who are already engaged in conversations with sales. By creating an organization-wide definition of your lifecycle stages, you’ll be able to have better marketing/sales alignment; every employee at your organization can gain a better understanding of when it’s appropriate to send which types of content to a contact.

Prioritize Your Time

Having a universal definition for sales qualified leads can also help your organization focus its resources by having sales follow up with only the most ready leads in your database. Instead of wasting valuable time prospecting unqualified leads, focusing on SQLs allows your sales team to hone their pitch only to contacts who have proverbially raised their hands through actions on your website. For example, following up with which contact would be a better use of time for a sales rep?

Contact #1: Subscribed to your blog yesterday evening.

Contact #2: Downloaded one of your e-books 3 months ago. Has since subscribed to your blog and engaged with other content on your website. This contact has also been viewing the pricing page for your product or services.

Contact #2 seems like the obvious choice, but if you don’t have a framework for lead qualification then these details might slip through the cracks.

One of the common frameworks for further qualifying SQLs is referred to by the easy-to-remember acronym “BANT.”

  • Budget - Can the contact afford your product or services?
  • Authority - Does your contact have purchasing power?
  • Need - Does the contact company need your product or services?
  • Timeline - When is the contact looking to purchase?

By qualifying SQLs with BANT, or another similar framework, you’ll be able to get a better idea on whether or not the contact is worth pursuing further.

Why SQLs Matter

Having clear definitions for the different lifecycle stages and a framework for lead qualification enables your organization to sell and market more strategically to contacts, regardless of how many names and email addresses populate your database.  This strategic alignment between marketing and sales can increase the number of successful deals closed from incoming sales qualified leads as well, as it enables you to better customize your messaging depending on how interested contacts are. Your organization will also have greater success in nurturing contacts into SQLs if you personalize the messaging and content to align with their lifecycle stage.


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Topics: Inbound Marketing, Lead Nurturing