What Are SALs & What Are the Best Criteria for Qualifying Sales Accepted Leads?

Coordinating sales and marketing efforts is key to shaping the buyer’s journey from the top to the bottom of the sales funnel.

The marketing team toils to capture marketing-qualified leads (MQLs)—leads the marketing team determines are likely to become customers—and hand them off to the sales force. Sales is then responsible for vetting those MQLs to ensure they meet the requirements for sales accepted leads (SALs), nurturing them to become sales-qualified leads (SQLs), and finally converting them into customers.

But what are SALs? SALs are MQLs that have been through a standardized lead acceptance procedure, meet the approved criteria for sales readiness, and are accepted by the sales team for nurturing.

In this post, we’ll discuss what SALs are, the benefits of qualifying MQLs as SALs, and the best criteria for a SAL. Let’s get started!

What are SALs?

SALs are MQLs accepted by the sales team after going through a formal lead acceptance process and meeting the established criteria for sales-readiness.

Most businesses design a lead acceptance procedure where the sales team must qualify MQLs as SALs before they’re approved as sales-ready. This process guarantees harmony between marketing and sales during the lead hand-off. Usually, this entails:

  1. Reaching a marketing and sales agreement on what constitutes a SAL and how they will score it.
  2. Establishing a service-level agreement (SLA) outlining the sales team’s expected follow-up actions following the acceptance of a new lead and the timeframe within which they will complete those actions.

In most cases, SALs are vetted based on factors such as the nature of the lead’s position, the organization’s size, the type of industry they work in, and the availability and quality of lead data.

Why are SALs important?

With well-defined criteria for what constitutes a SAL, you can direct your sales team’s efforts to where they will provide the greatest return. As a result, you can be confident that the leads you send to sales are already familiar with your company and its products or services.

Furthermore, SALs can assist your teams in the following:

  • Spotting prospective customers who will respond well to specific or customized follow-up
  • Knowing when to hand over a prospect from marketing to sales
  • Boosting sales efforts by focusing on the most promising prospects
  • Reducing the number of time sales spend on general prospecting
  • Estimating potential income by spotting promising leads in the bottom stage of a sales pipeline

Simply put, SALs help you avoid endlessly walking about in search of your next client. They point the way to untapped sources of income that can help your company expand. When you take the time to cultivate your SALs, you open up a valuable channel for bringing in new clients.

What are the best criteria for a SAL?

We’ve already established that SALs aid in directing your sales team’s efforts into the areas that will yield the highest return on investment (ROI). However, not all prospects that express interest in your business qualify as SALs. How do you determine which leads warrant your sales team’s attention, then?

Well, many businesses employ the budget, authority, need, and timeframe (BANT) method to identify sales-ready prospects. Here’s how it works:

  1. Budget: An ideal SAL has a budget available and can afford to buy from you. Occasionally, your sales team may need to assist management with budgetary problems or resource acquisition.
  2. Authority: The SAL has the authority to approve a sale or at least gain the necessary support to close the deal. This problem can arise in any commercial transaction, including business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) sales.
  3. Need: The right SAL genuinely needs what you’re offering. They’re likely experiencing a difficulty that your offering can alleviate.
  4. Timeframe: The SAL wants to purchase within a specific period. B2B sales cycles may last six months to a year or more. However, B2C acquisitions are often made in a much shorter time.

When everyone involved in the sales process uses the same definition of SAL, you can streamline your sales operations. Your sales team will be more productive if they pursue high-quality leads instead of a broad range of possible customers.

Create a roadmap to guide your sales team to success

This free worksheet will help you create a custom sales process for your business including pipeline stages, key activities for each stage, and more. Download it below.


The benefits of qualifying MQLs as SALs

Qualifying MQLs as SALs can save time, effort, and resources by directing your sales and marketing efforts on leads that are more likely to convert into paying customers. It also allows you to fine-tune and expand your offering to satisfy your niche market’s requirements more closely.

But that’s not all. Take a look at a few other benefits of qualifying MQLs as SALs for your business:

  • Coordinates efforts between marketing and sales
  • Minimizes the number of leads leaking through the cracks of the sales funnel
  • Tailors your follow-up promptly
  • Facilitates rapid problem diagnosis and resolution

Coordinates efforts between marketing and sales

We previously mentioned that synchronizing marketing and sales activities is vital to influencing the customer journey from the beginning to the end of the sales funnel and increasing revenue. By incorporating a SAL step into your sales process, you can ensure that your teams are on the same page about the lead qualification process and criteria.

Minimizes the number of leads leaking through the cracks of the sales funnel

Since the sales and marketing departments need to be on the same page regarding lead scoring and qualification, most leads can sometimes stay within the MQL stage. A SAL step in the sales process facilitates the flow of leads and lessens the likelihood of losing a valuable prospect.

Tailors your follow-up promptly

The marketing and sales departments typically have a SLA to guarantee a timely follow-up. When a lead is in SAL status, sales has 24 hours to contact them. As a result, incorporating a SAL step into your sales process can help tailor your follow-up effectively and promptly.

Facilitates rapid problem diagnosis and resolution

If your sales lead acceptance rate is lower than 90%, it’s evident there was some ambiguity between the sales and marketing departments. The SAL method will guide you through locating the problem’s source and rectifying it efficiently.

Keep track of your MQLs, SALs, and SQLs with Nutshell

As a marketing or sales manager, you know that it’s essential that you track every lead meticulously so that you can monitor their progression through the sales funnel. However, without the proper equipment, this might be challenging. That’s where a customer relationship management (CRM) platform like Nutshell comes into play.

With Nutshell, you can automatically import leads and sort them into different buckets depending on various criteria, such as whether they are MQLs, SALs, or SQLs. Sorting things out in this way will undoubtedly upgrade the quality of your work.

We don’t expect you to dive headfirst into our CRM without getting a feel for how it operates. That’s why we offer a no-risk, 14-day free trial of Nutshell for your convenience. Get started right away!


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