The underlying principle of every successful sales strategy is the quality of the leads rather than the quantity.
In as much as several sales reps and leaders love to emphasize getting many leads to sell their company’s product or service, having a large lead contact bank is not a sure guarantee of your success.
I am sure you have heard of the new school workplace phrase “work smart not hard.”
Why waste time on 100 unqualified leads when you can channel your sales effort on 20 sales qualified leads that can help you hit your target faster.
Thus, this blog will cover;
- Definition of a sales qualified lead (SQL).
- Difference between sales qualified leads (SQL and Marketing qualified leads (MQL).
- Difference between SQL and SAL
- Seven (7) proven ways of generating SQL.
Definition of a sales qualified lead (SQL)
A sales qualified lead (SQL) is a lead who has the potential of becoming a prospective customer. Essentially, these leads have been vetted and confirmed ready for direct follow-up from your sales team.
In simple words, they are prospects that have indicated enough interest and engagement with your company – commenting on your social media posts, sending you an email inquiry, or calling your reps for more information and are considering making a purchase.
The marketing teams generate SQLs through a lead qualification process – the process of assessing a lead’s purchasing potential to separate prospective customers from the invalid ones.
Generating SQLs helps the sales team improve their productivity and generate revenue for the company.
Consider asking the following questions to guide your SQL generation process;
- Is the person truly interested in what I am selling?
- Do they have a use for my product?
- Do they have enough money to buy what I am selling?
- Is now the best time for them to buy what I am selling?
- Are they the ultimate decision-maker?
Difference between SQL and a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL).
The main difference between a sales qualified lead (SQL) and a marketing qualified lead (MQL) lies in the sales funnel.
A marketing qualified lead is a lead that is still relatively new in the sales pipeline. They are people who are aware of the product or service but have not necessarily shown interest in it or indicated any plan to buy from you.
They are passive leads that have interacted with your product/service and engaged in discussions around your product or service industry.
For example, if you guest post your new product on a popular blog or youtube page, the readers or subscribers who interacted with that post could make up your MQL – they have seen and made a comment on the post or product but didn’t indicate interest to buy.
SQls, on the other hand, are leads that are ready to buy from you (whether immediately or later). They are active leads that either requested a consultation or showed interest in buying your products.
You must understand that MQLs are not invalid or useless but are simply indifferent leads that require more intense and targeted marketing efforts to become SQLs.
As leads at the starting point of the pipeline, the use of the right lead nurturing tactics can convert an MQL into a revenue-generating customer. Also, you can explore SaaS sales and tech sales.
SQL vs SAL
Sales accepted leads (SAL) are leads that a sales team accepts officially from the marketing team to nurture and move down the funnel – convert to a customer.
In a nutshell, a SAL is an MQL that a sales team accepts.
So how exactly does this work?
When your marketing team compiles the list of leads that have demonstrated any form of interest in your product or service based on the set criteria, that lead becomes an MQL. Once completed, the marketing team will transfer the list of MQLs to the sales team for acceptance.
The MQLs become SAL when they are accepted by the sales team.
For a sales accepted lead (SAL) to become a sales qualified lead, it must meet all the pre-requisites of a potential customer.
An MQL, SAL, and SQL are all part of the trajectory. They all follow a direct process – MQL to SAL to SQL to customer. The sales and marketing teams work hand in hand to create a seamless and efficient sales process.
Although several organizations omit the SAL step in their sales process, here are some reasons why SAL is crucial in B2B organizations;
Benefits of SAL to a Sales Team
1. Boost the Follow-up process
When your sales team documents and keeps track of their accepted leads, this will enable them to follow up accordingly with the clients.
Sales teams that keep records of the SAL can target the leads that need more push to achieve their target.
2. Reduce chances of losing promising leads
There has always been the concern of sales reps missing out on promising clients.
Sales reps can resolve this by regularly updating the MQLs that have the potential of buying a product. In sales, there is no telling which particular lead would eventually buy from you, so you have to target every promising lead you have.
By using the right nurturing strategies, an MQL could bring you the biggest sales in your career.
3. Ensure Timely Follow up
Keeping a record of your SAL will help you develop a follow-up schedule and strategy for your MQLs. Set a time frame to reach out to the MQLs, and actively follow up on them.
4. Identify and Address Problems
Your SAL record should help you identify lapses in your communication and strategy and develop a timely solution to the problem.
If you notice that you have been sending emails and calling some of your leads with little result, you can always check your SAL record to confirm if you are reaching out to the right people. If not, you work on getting your sales process right.
5. Organize the sales and marketing teams
The sales and marketing teams are interconnected. There is only a thin line between the responsibilities of the two departments.
If you have a SAL step in your sales process, you can eliminate all forms of disagreements between the two teams.
Seven (7) proven ways of generating Sales Qualified Leads
To increase revenue and save salespeople time, we have identified the following proven ways of generating a qualified lead.
1. Use Lead Scoring Technique
Lead scoring is the process of identifying quality leads from unqualified leads based on some pre-set attributes. It is the process of moving pre-qualified leads (prospective customers) from an MQL to SQL based on some organizational values and factors.
Lead scoring involves the use of different company-related attributes to assign values to leads sometimes in the form of numerical values and move them down the funnel.
The attributes could be how(Frequency of time) they expressed interest in your company – on social media, emails, or your website, the information they give while subscribing to your offer reminders, or direct messages/emails they send you for inquiries.
By using some lead scoring models like explicit scoring, negative scoring, regular refinement, etc., your sales and marketing department can prioritize leads, target them, sell to them and increase your chances of converting them to customers.
2. Automate your sales and marketing process
So much goes into the lead generation and qualification process that the marketing and sales department have to collaborate sometimes to achieve the company’s goals.
The marketing team is mainly responsible for creating content, improving its web optimization, and developing a marketing strategy to help generate leads from several touchpoints, while the sales team is responsible for calling and constantly following up with the prospects to make them customers.
Consider using sales and marketing automation tools or software to make this process seamless and productive.
Sales automation tools like Sloovi Outreach can help you track your daily workflow, create customized and intuitive reports, schedule more meetings, and prioritize leads with dynamic Smart Views.
3. Invest in data-gathering
We cannot overemphasize the significance of data in sales and marketing operations.
To understand your sales qualified lead qualification process, consider getting previous data on leads that converted to customers, what techniques and strategies worked on the past leads, and the approach used.
This data will help identify a strategy that works and discard redundant ones.
4. Develop a buyer persona
A buyer persona is a research-based profile of a potential customer. It describes your envision of your prospective customer – their demographic information, work history, pain points, and journey.
Creating a buyer persona will give you customer insights and lays a foundation for a sales conversation. Essentially, a buyer persona will help qualify your leads.
5. Create a niched long-tail Keywords
Long-tail keywords are longer and specific keywords that prospective customers use when searching for a thing of interest on the web.
Create a long-tail keyword to target your prospects on your website, social media, and the internet. You can easily track and work on people who visit your keyword touch point.
6. Leverage Social Media to discover prospects
When it comes to prospect research, social media is your best friend when it comes to finding highly interested leads.
You can discover more about your prospects through their social media platforms. Social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn can give you timely updates on your prospect’s career, achievements, and projects.
Aside from this, you can encourage engagement on your social media platforms by using lead magnets and creating content that will interest your potential customer.
This information will help you generate pre qualified leads.
7. Run Google Ads
Google ads is an online advertising platform that a company or business uses to reach more potential customers.
When you implement a cost-effective bidding strategy with your Google Ads, it will generate more valuable leads for your company. You can also check out the related guides sales analysis report and what is gross revenue.
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