A lead is someone who has interacted with your company. A qualified lead is someone who your marketing or sales team has deemed worthy of pursuing further and trying to convert into a customer.
Qualified leads are typically divided into marketing qualified leads (MQL) and sales qualified leads (SQL) based on their location within the sales funnel.
Your marketing team will often generate a large number of leads, but not all of those are worth pursuing, as many will not convert. Your marketing team will establish a baseline set of criteria to determine which leads are worth pursuing and therefore count as an MQL. MQLs are not quite ready to buy, but they’ve shown enough interest and have provided enough information for your marketing team to pass them on to the sales team.
Once a lead has been deemed qualified by your marketing team, the sales team will try to make contact. Sales have a more stringent set of criteria to determine what qualifies as an SQL and which leads they should focus on converting. The go-to set of criteria for an SQL is BANT:
- Budget (do they have the funds to buy your product/service?)
- Authority (are they in a position in their company where they can decide to work with you or not?)
- Needs (does your product/service address their pain points?)
- Timeline (how long will they need to decide and are they working to a deadline?).
If a lead qualifies as an SQL, they move down the sales funnel, and your sales team will conduct follow-ups to try and convert them.