What Is a Sales Qualified Lead

This is the blog transcript of our video “What Is a Sales Qualified Lead”. If you’d like to see more of our videos, you can subscribe to our YouTube channel here.

In my last video, we did a deep dive into marketing qualified leads – what are they, how do you get them, and what do you do with them…

But marketing qualified leads are only going to get you so far. Eventually you’ve gotta sell something to stay in business, right? 

Well, that’s where sales qualified leads come into play. But what is a sales qualified lead?

Hey everyone, I’m Ian Campbell, CEO of Mission Suite. Before we jump into today’s video, do me a favor and hit the subscribe button and ring the bell so that you’re notified whenever we post new videos.

Creating sales qualified leads is usually what people are talking about when they say “I want more leads”

They’re much harder to create, and usually cost more to do so, which is why we start with marketing qualified leads and refine that group over time

You might remember hearing about SQL in previous episodes, but here, we’re going to take a deeper dive into what an SQL is, what info you need to collect, identify, and qualify those leads, how to create those leads. 

Last time we talked about SQLs, we established that you need information to be able first to qualify this as an SQL and further qualify them so your sales team can hit the ground running. And we also determined that your primary goal for an SQL is to get them to buy. But not by pushing too hard. 

Let’s dive into it. 

Before you can do anything with any lead, you need to be sure you have checked all the right boxes and can confidently put them in the SQL category. Once this is done – and done correctly – you’ll be able to serve that lead best. 

Your SQL has shown interest in your product or service. They have signaled that they want to know more about you. I wouldn’t necessarily qualify them as a ‘hot’ lead – yet, but they are potentially on that path. 

This could mean that they are shopping around, or someone has given them a recommendation for your company, product, or service. 

Most of the time, we’ll see a lead go from an MQL to an SQL, meaning they have interacted with your company in some way – a positive response to your marketing efforts or content. 

In the larger picture, this lead is squarely in between a ‘lead’ and an opportunity. They are more than a stranger and just a contact, but we haven’t quite been able to move them to the opportunity column yet. 

We need to gather more information, but what exactly do we need to know about this lead to turn them into a full-fledged client? 

The good news is that as a warmer lead, they are likely to want to give you this information. The bad news is that there is no one set of information that will work for every lead and every company. So, before we can really work on this lead, let’s talk homework. 

Think ahead about what your ideal client would look like and start making a checklist: 

  • What is your target demographic? 
  • What type of client would your company most benefit from having? 
  • What about my company does this lead need to know? 

Next, think about the things that your sales team needs to know about this lead

  • Where is this lead on your Lead Scoring Model, and how did they get there? Yes, we will talk a little more about the lead scoring model in a bit. 
  • What is this leads budget?
  • When are they looking to buy? 
  • What are the compelling problems that our team can solve?
  • Have I answered any early objections for this lead?

Knowing what info your sales team needs is critical. Not only will this determine the next steps for the lead, but this will make an excellent handoff to your sales team, and they will appreciate that. Most of all, this educated handoff can go a long way to building confidence. 

Think about it: if you can hand off your lead to a sales team with continuity, they can act more intuitively, they may be able to close the lead faster, reinforce answers to objections you’ve countered and be able to secure your company as a leader over your competition. 

I know homework is a drag, but it will pay off for you and your team if you can do the work and build this kind of confidence. 

Let’s talk a little more about moving this lead from MQL to SQ L.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out our episode about MQL s or Marketing Qualified Leads, please do. There is a lot of great information in there. And if some of what we are discussing here doesn’t make sense, that will give you some context. 

Since it’s unlikely you have leads calling you and begging to give you money, let’s assume this lead started as an MQL. So, we can assume that they know a little about your company, products, brand, or service. More good news: your marketing is working!

They’ve read your content; they’ve seen your social media posts and maybe even like or follow you. Now is the time we can apply a little more pressure and prepare for the move to SQL. Which means, you guessed it: more homework.

Just a minute ago, I mentioned the Lead Scoring Model. To best move this lead through your funnel to your sales team should make some intentional notes on how you can use the leads’ journey so far to score their likelihood of becoming a client. 

If you don’t have an existing Lead Scoring Model, you need one. Get your sales and marketing team in the same room and start talking about this. If you don’t know where to start, please reach out because I would be happy to help. And, while you might think, “oh, my company isn’t that big” or “our sales process is not that complicated,” I’m here to tell you that you need to consider this for many reasons. 

A Lead Scoring Model – however informal or short – is an essential piece for the lead as much as it is for you. For example, if you are tracking and scoring how your lead has interacted with your company so far, you can offer better, smarter, safer next steps for your lead. This builds confidence and makes a more pleasant journey to client-hood. If they have read all of your blogs and updates but not interacted with you on social media, you should ask why – are they not a social media person? Do they not know about your social media? Etc.

Yes, the Lead Scoring Model is an excellent tool for you and your sales team, but it can also be a jumping-off point for your CRM with this lead, even as they become a client. Use every tool you have in your toolbox to get to know your lead – it will pay off big time, especially when a client considers the care you’ve taken with them against your competition, who might not have been so thoughtful. 

Just as the Lead Scoring Model can help you qualify, it can help you disqualify too. One of the most critical thresholds might be determining a lead is qualified but just not ready to buy. Make some allowances in your funnel to back up a lead like this and send some educational and non-salses-focused materials so you can keep them on your radar and not scare them off with a premature sales pitch. 

Additionally, the Lead Scoring Model can also effectively help you determine if this will never be qualified. Determine who is a looky-loo, a competition scout just doing some casual poking around and save yourself and your team time and money. 

Again, if you’d like to know more about a Lead Scoring Model, please get in touch; I’d be happy to help you put something together, make some recommendations and help you. 

Once your SQL has reached a certain threshold, you can safely and confidently send them along to your sales team, whether through your Lead Scoring Model or your internal criteria. 

Data has been your best ally up to this point and will continue to be. A healthy CRM will give your sales team helpful information about this lead, making it more likely to succeed with this qualified lead. 

“Qualified” being the most important term. So, let’s chat about that next. 

How can you know for sure that your SQL is truly qualified? 

You already know the answer – it’s homework. Just like passing a test – you have to have done your homework and a little studying to know for sure. 

The best advice I can offer here is to get your sales team and your marketing team together and take a long hard look at your funnel from top to bottom. The absolute best way to make this ride efficient and effective for you and the client is to – you guessed it – do the homework and plan your funnel carefully. 

Successful collaboration is vital. Since everyone in your company will benefit from this lead becoming a client, their input is important. Talk to your sales and marketing – and fulfillment – teams about some of the key things that will make you successful:

  • What is possible from a marketing standpoint? 
  • How can we best capture interested parties? 
  • What is NOT possible? 
  • What is going to make the most leads the most successful?

So, let’s say it’s day one, and your bright, shiny new funnel is ready for action. Cut to day 35, and you see too many unqualified leads making their way to your sales team – or – worse, you don’t see ANY qualified leads. You have to be open to working out the kinks. 

Of course, even the best-laid plans can have missteps, so don’t be reluctant to make changes if you find something isn’t working. Often what we think should work doesn’t, and we have to make some adjustments. This is not a failure; getting it right the first time every time is a fluke, so don’t count on that. And, if you do get it right the first time and every time, let’s talk because I have so many questions for you. 

Look at your Lead Scoring Model, your funnel and all associated qualifying techniques and find out where the glitch might be. And then, think of how you can alter your threshold for a better fit. Again, get input from your sales and marketing teams as they might see some things you’re missing or haven’t thought of. 

Some of your best skills here are patience and flexibility. The most competent person in the room knows when and how to be either or both of these. 

Be patient with your lead. Very rarely will a sale happen on your timeline. Your lead needs time to feel confident in their decision, so give them that. Ask questions, find out how your product or service can solve their problems, offer education and be ready to wait. Think about this: what if you lose the sale because you have a specific timeline in your mind and that lead doesn’t even know about. It’s about them, not you. They’ll buy when they are ready; you just need to hang in there sometimes. 

And, of course, flexibility. Every lead will need something different, and understand where you may have the flexibility and where you have a rigid boundary. A client’s shifting needs and wants are not necessarily a disqualifying event – you can’t sell ball bearings if you’re a flower shop, but if you’ve done your homework, you can best serve a leads’ changing needs. 

Let’s recap: 

Your SQLs are an incredibly special distinctive set of leads that you have some data on but aren’t quite ready to be closed just yet. They are some of the hottest leads you have, and, just like your MQLs, they need some special attention. 

Do your homework, know your boundaries and act with intention, and you’ll be able to move to the next step with this lead. Your client and your team will thank you. 

I hope you got something out of this video.

And if you did, go ahead and give it a thumbs up and maybe a share so that others can see it too. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our channel and ring the bell so that you’re notified whenever we post new videos and while you’re at it, check out these videos too!

We’ll see you next time around!

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