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The Basics of MQLs & How to Identify Them in 5 Simple Steps

mqls explained

Identifying your marketing qualified leads (MQLs) is key to refining your sales process. Without this prospect data, your marketing team may waste time, resources, and effort on prospects that aren’t worth pursuing, passing low-quality leads to your sales team.

So, what are MQLs, anyway? MQLs are prospects that have passed the marketing department’s lead screening process and are likely to become paying customers if more effort is expended to cultivate and convert them.

In this post, we’ll discuss what MQLs are, how to vet a lead for MQLs, and how to identify them in three simple steps. Let’s get going!

What are MQLs?

MQLs are prospective clients that have passed the marketing team’s vetting process and have a high likelihood of becoming paying customers with the help of the sales team’s nurturing and persuasion efforts.

MQLs often take proactive steps to interact with your business, such as freely providing contact information, enrolling in a program, adding e-commerce products to a shopping cart, downloading documents, or frequently visiting your website.

How does vetting a lead for MQLs work?

Your marketing team uses the generated interaction statistics and provided contact information to easily sort through prospects and discover the highest-quality leads based on the standards established by your company.

When your marketing team has determined MQLs for your company, they hand them over to the sales team. This step provides sales access to high-quality leads to help them with the first steps of the sales process, such as prospecting.

Your sales team then conducts its qualifying process on the MQLs and filters the best prospects for further engagement. This lead vetting process saves time and guarantees that marketing and sales are on the same page about your customer personas and the marketing material that attracts the ideal clients.

How to identify MQLs in 5 simple steps

Now that you know the answer to the question, “What are MQLs?” we can get you all set with steps to identify them for your sales team.

While the methods for identifying and nurturing MQLs and advancing them through the sales funnel may vary depending on the nature of the business, there are some valuable tips you can apply regardless of the scale of your operation.

Identifying MQLs requires establishing transparent criteria, fostering collaboration across departments, and employing effective customer relationship management (CRM) tools.

Here are five steps to help you identify MQLs:

  1. Get your sales and marketing departments in sync
  2. Establish guiding lead definitions
  3. Set precise MQL criteria
  4. Incorporate a CRM
  5. Regularly review and revise your guiding lead definitions

1. Get your sales and marketing departments in sync

In reality, your sales department can only identify high-quality MQLs with assistance from the sales department. In the same way, your sales team can only convert MQLs with the aid of the marketing team. That’s why both departments need to collaborate, share the same vision, and regularly update one another on progress.

Your company’s marketers and salespeople must reach a consensus on the MQL criteria and work together to develop a consistent lead-nurturing method at all sales funnel stages. They also have to assign responsibilities for each step to a designated team, so the timing of tasks like handoffs and follow-up emails is precise.

Furthermore, it’s also essential for salespeople and marketers to exchange information about what makes a lead valuable. For example, suppose your sales team has found that leads generated through Facebook have a high conversion rate. In that case, they’ll pass this information on to the marketing department.

Meanwhile, your marketing team can reveal that a campaign highlighting a particular product feature was successful, allowing sales representatives to tailor their presentations to the target audience’s wants and needs.

2. Establish guiding lead definitions

Now that your marketing team and sales force are on the same page, it’s time for them to collaborate on creating guiding lead definitions for the company. It’s essential for marketing to communicate with sales to define what makes someone an MQL. This procedure may be similar to the one you used to create customer profiles.

Some sample query-based MQL definition questions are as follows:

  • What problems or difficulties must a prospect face to qualify as an MQL?
  • What marketing material should a prospect interact with to qualify them as an MQL?
  • What are the essential demographics to identify a prospect as an MQL?

By establishing these lead definitions, you can guarantee that your sales team is continually fed with well-organized, high-quality leads that will allow them to maintain maximum output.

3. Set precise MQL criteria

Next, your marketing department determines what constitutes a “high-quality lead” and establishes the MQL criteria. They can decide that it’s anyone who engages with your company online, such as by reading your emails, submitting contact forms, responding to several calls-to-actions (CTAs), or commenting on social networking platforms.

After establishing the criteria, you can develop a lead scoring method to identify which leads are MQLs. You can also use lead scoring software to rank leads numerically based on criteria, such as actions taken or information provided.

This step will help your marketing team gauge the efficacy of their efforts and make adjustments as needed. They’ll know their outreach is successful if a lead keeps progressing through the sales funnel after receiving marketing materials.

4. Incorporate a CRM

Now that you have your guiding lead definitions, a clear set of MQL criteria, and your marketing and sales departments are in sync, you’re ready to incorporate a suitable CRM system to reduce ambiguity and boost conversions.

With robust CRM software like Nutshell, you can significantly improve your company’s lead management capabilities, making it simpler for your teams to handle many projects at once, keep tabs on multiple MQLs, and advance leads along the sales funnel.

For instance, it may facilitate the following for your sales and marketing teams:

  • Getting real-time updates whenever a prospect engages with your business or advances in the sales funnel. A CRM system ensures no leads are leaking, allowing salespeople to make the most of their time.
  • Assigning leads to the most suitable marketer or sales representative based on criteria like geography, field, and hobbies.
  • Storing lead engagement data, including who they spoke with and what was discussed. By backing up this background information in your CRM, you can ensure that an MQL is heard and understood at all times.
  • Identifying the transition from MQL to sales-qualified lead (SQL). A good CRM will alert your team whenever a lead matches your preset MQL criteria.

Using a CRM platform will allow you to keep track of your contacts with MQLs and gain insight into their pipeline progress, successful tactics, and priority for continued communication.

5. Regularly review and revise your guiding lead definitions

Customer profiles, leads, and MQLs develop and change as your business, departments, and clientele expand. That’s why it’s crucial to consistently revisit your guiding lead definitions and make any necessary adjustments.

A common practice is for the marketing department to examine the lead definitions they’ve established quarterly, discuss any modifications they think are required with the sales department, and then implement those changes based on the input they get. 

You could also host a joint meeting between the marketing and sales teams to review and revise the definitions as necessary.

Elevate your lead screening process with Nutshell

Nutshell Pro’s Forecast report is the best data-driven tool for reviewing and analyzing the factual data you need for reliable forecasting.

Try our simple, affordable CRM free for 14 days and see how Nutshell can assist your sales and marketing teams to analyze past closed sales, manage a significant number of MQLs, move leads along in the sales funnel and monitor the efficacy of marketing campaigns.Got any questions? Contact us online to speak with a knowledgeable consultant.

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