MQL And SQL – 3 Unique Ways To Differentiate
Samuel Darwin
Posted in: Tips

MQL and SQL – 3 Unique Ways to Differentiate

The success of a business depends on effective marketing and sales. MQL and SQL classifications play an important role in maximizing sales by utilizing time wisely and dedicating proper resources only to the qualified leads that will most likely be converted. Categorizing potential customers in the sales funnel is the most critical factor in determining which leads can be converted.

The marketing and sales teams indicate the probability of a lead’s conversion by deeming them qualified leads or unqualified leads. So, MQL and SQL classifications are 

What Are MQL and SQL?

MQL – Marketing Qualified Leads

SQL – Sales Qualified Leads

A lead is an individual or an organization who has shown interest in your product or service, and with proper nurturing can become a lead. This classification of MQL and SQL helps the salesperson determine where they need to focus next.

What Is MQL?

The marketing-qualified lead is before the stage of the sales-qualified lead. MQL has been qualified by your marketing team as the leads have engaged with your marketing efforts or have shown interest in your product or service. You don’t know the pain points or any in-depth information about the MQLs yet.

So, in the context of your sales funnel, the leads that come under the marketing qualified leads category can be seen as leads that have the potential to become customers if nurtured properly.

What Is SQL?

The stage after MQL is SQL in the sales process. If the leads are classified as SQL by the sales team, it means the leads have been assessed and determined as needing direct follow-ups or assistance. A lead can graduate to sales qualified lead when:

  • The lead has enough information to make a decision.
  • The lead should have the resources and budget to make the purchase.

When a lead qualifies as an SQL in the sales funnel, it can be turned into opportunities by conducting one-on-one consultations. This means in the MQL vs. SQL lifecycle, SQL should always be given higher priority.

How To Differentiate MQL and SQL?

It is in the marketing and sales efforts to determine where each MQL and SQL stands in the buyer’s journey. According to a source from LinkedIn, the reason that 90% of MQLs are not converted into SQLs due to misunderstandings in the lead behavior, and the leads being falsely identified early in the stage of the buyer’s journey as MQLs.

In order to identify the leads correctly and attend to them at each stage with proper information, and also to know when a lead needs to be graduated to the next stage of the sales funnel, you need to know the following differences between MQL and SQL.

1. Lead Behavior

Analyzing the behavior of a visitor on your website and how they engage with your brand online can help determine whether the lead is MQL or SQL. So, these are some general lead characteristics you should monitor.

MQL and SQL - 5 Factors That Determine Lead Behavior
MQL and SQL – Factors Determining Lead Behavior

Regular Visitors

The sales team can identify leads as MQL or SQL based on their online activities. First-time visitors should be considered MQL, and leads who visit three to four times to look for a relevant product or service can be considered SQL.

Engagement Count

Also known as conversion count. You probably have multiple landing pages with plenty of useful and relevant content. If a lead is ready to be converted from MQL to SQL, they have engaged with most of your landing pages and downloaded many contents from your website.

Stage of Conversion

From the actions of the leads on your website, a sales team can determine the stage of the lead in the sales funnel. For example, if a lead downloads helpful content from your website, like a white paper, then it is an MQL. If a lead is willing to attend a demo for your latest product or has requested it, then they can be categorized as SQL.

Referral Channels

Any successful business can definitely have multiple marketing channels. Few of the select channels might generate the majority of your leads, such as paid marketing or emails. Moving on further, you should be able to define what channels can help you successfully convert your leads into paying customers.

Every engagement you have with your lead is an opportunity for sales, but you must know the effectiveness of your referral channels to prioritize them. You can determine if your leads are worth investing in, you should know which channel they come from and which channel leads have more quality.

Requests for Contact

A sales team can qualify a SQL if the lead is asking to be contacted, and, while MQLs may be interested to receive more information, they won’t likely ask to be contacted directly.

2. Lead Scoring

Lead scoring can be based on lead demographics, lead behavior, interactions with your business, and information about the leads, assigning value to each lead. This prevents your sales team from identifying a lead falsely and reaching out to them before a lead is converted to SQL.

3. Lead Demographics

One of the most important aspects of lead scoring is the demographic information of leads. If a lead matches your ideal customer profile, the marketing team must send it to the sales team for a direct and quick follow-up.

Here is some of the demographic information of the leads when considering MQL and SQL:

  • Lead Source
  • Industry
  • Job title of the lead
  • Company location
  • Annual revenue of the company
  • Company size
  • The engagement level of the lead

How To Transition from an MQL to a SQL?

After defining the MQL and SQL leads and which lead fits where it is finally time for the marketing team to hand over sales-qualified leads to the sales team. Before doing so, the sales and marketing teams must analyze the entire customer lifecycle.

A mistake the sales and marketing teams make is moving a lead from MQL to SQL too soon, based on the number of interactions and engagements they have with the lead. But, the leads are not yet ready for sale if most of the touchpoints the leads are having are just answering questions in the early stage of the buyer’s journey.

If the lead is looking for the price of the product or service they are not ready for the sales yet. the sales and marketing teams must have a bigger picture of the lead’s total behavior before deciding on the stage of the lead.

Read this blog to understand MQL to SQL Conversion Rate

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What comes first, MQL or SQL?

MQL is the primary contact as a lead, but not yet ready for sales. SQL, on the other hand, is ready for direct contact and follow-ups and should be given priority.

2. What is SQL vs. MQL?

MQL is a marketing-qualified lead, someone who is interested in your product or services. SQL is a sales-qualified lead, who is interested in your product or services, and intends to buy them.

2. What is SQL vs. MQL?

MQLs are qualified prospects that engage and interact with your content and marketing efforts. An SQL is identified as a potential customer by the sales team.

Related Reads

Marketing to Sales Funnel – 6 Best Ways To Improve

Tips To Generate B2B Sales Leads

Bottom Of Funnel

Understanding MQL and SQL, and determining the right time to move an MQL to a SQL is crucial as tons of resources are being spent by businesses worldwide trying to attract new leads to their businesses.

Ensuring your company’s marketing and sales teams are on the same page, the leads can be converted to customers of your brand. A business should be careful and effective from the stage of identifying leads and categorizing them as either an MQL or a SQL, moving the leads through each stage of the sales funnel, and finally converting them into customers of the business. If you are looking for a service that can assist you with the MQL to SQL conversion rate, try out


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