From the Blog

What is a Marketing Qualified Lead?

You’ve probably been bored by someone going over the semantics of the differences between suspects, prospects and leads…but what does it really matter? When it comes to marketing, we are constantly looking for ways to identify people that we can take the credit for having brought into the sales pipeline. It comes down to proving our worth – we added value, we brought cash in! Woot!

So, what’s the value in creating yet another set of criteria to add into your CRM? The value is for Marketers seeking quantifiable means for identifying marketing successes. Until companies begin to revamp their understanding and definition for how Marketing and Sales should work together, it is crucial for successful companies to make the process for receiving proper credit as painless as possible for their marketers.

Here’s one suggestion…

Create two more groups for segmenting your prospects and leads… Marketing Qualified Prospect (MQP) and Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL).

The concept of a “Marketing Qualified Prospect” is very new. In fact, if you were to type it into Google, you’d come up with almost nothing. So here’s where I’m going to brazenly define what I think it is (or, should be).

“A person inside your target demographic, in your target market/industry, who has not yet expressed a need or interest, whose business is large enough to support the costs associated with your product/service, who belongs to a targeted campaign, whose contact information has been thoroughly researched for validity.”

In short – they should be part of your active outreach. These people would be ideal candidates for targeted outbound marketing campaigns and sales cold calling.

Next, we come to the “Marketing Qualified Lead”. There’s far more data on this, and if you’re interested, I recommend reading about HubSpot’s Closed Loop Analytics for more information on how to successfully implement a tracking system.

To classify a Marketing Qualified Lead is to identify to Sales any persons from any demographic, any market and any size business, who express an interest in your product/service as a result some type of Marketing bait (email, advertisement, eblast, blog post, event attendance, press release – and so on). Note, I didn’t say that these people had to be valid customer prospects, but these people were interested in your product and enticed by your Marketing.

This does not mean that spam and robots should be considered MQLs should they fill out forms, but it does mean that some MQLs will not become SQLs (Sales Qualified Leads) and that doesn’t mean that your marketing is bad, or that they shouldn’t count in terms of marketing effort.

Think of it this way: you’re out fishing and when you cast your line it gets snagged on a branch under water. That’s your robots and spammers – the snaggers of bait that have zero value to your company. Now, you cast your line again and you reel in a sunfish. You wanted to reel in a big mouth bass, but a sunfish is still a fish even if it isn’t what you were hoping for. So you need to throw it back and keep trying for a bass.

At some point, if you keep pulling back sunfish, you will need to change your bait. The same goes for marketing – if the messaging is wrong, you’ll get the wrong leads. But to the same point, if you’re constantly changing your bait, you’ll waste all of your time switching lures and miss out on other fish who might have preferred your first bait. Also, sunfish and bass may actually be attracted to the same type of bait, but you may be in a lake where there’s an overabundance of sunfish or one that has been overfished for bass.

Being proactive and aware of what is happening to your bait will help you be strategic and less reactionary. Understanding how your bait is performing and whether you need to change fishing spots will help you plan your next move.

Marketing is the gatekeeper working to keep spam out and bring quality people in. As I mentioned, not every MQL will become a Sales Qualified Lead. Make sure as you work these new terms into your funnel phases that you help your Sales teams to be attentive to interested parties. Nothing’s better than someone self-identifying a need for your service.

To summarize, look at ways of broadening your definitions for your sales funnel pipeline. Find ways to utilize Marketing’s research to develop MQP lists for outreach and reduce any friction associated with MQLs for Sales follow up.

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