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What Are SQLs? Sales Qualified Leads Explained

What Are SQLs? Sales Qualified Leads Explained

7 Min Read

When it comes to sales, it isn’t always about the number of leads–it’s about the quality of those leads. If you’re not reaching the right people, your efforts could be wasted no matter how much time you spend on outreach.

That’s where sales-qualified leads, or SQLs, can change how you approach marketing. Focusing on filling your pipeline with SQLs can boost your chances of converting more people into customers. 

So what exactly are sales-qualified leads? And how can you attract more of them to boost the success of your inbound sales process? Let’s start with some basic definitions.

SQLs Definition

In marketing, SQL stands for Sales-Qualified Lead.

A sales-qualified lead is a lead–or a prospective customer–who has moved through the pipeline to a point where they can be nurtured and converted into an active customer. It doesn’t guarantee a sale, but this stage is an important milestone in the life cycle of a lead.

The criteria of an SQL depends on how each business defines it according to the industry, the size of the company, and the services offered, but an SQL will generally meet a certain set of requirements set by your sales team.

Difference Between SQL and MQL

A sales-qualified lead (SQL) is often compared to its counterpart, the marketing-qualified lead (MQL). The main factor that sets these two apart is their place in the sales funnel. 

An MQL starts early in the pipeline. A lead in this stage may know about the product or service but hasn’t expressed interest. An SQL, on the other hand, is further down the funnel and ready to buy. While they may not be actively adding anything to their cart, they’ve shown significant interest, like requesting a demo or viewing product pricing.

Difference Between SQL and SAL

While you may have heard of MQLs and SQLs, SALs are more often overlooked. SAL stands for sales-accepted lead, and this stage is a bridge between MQLs and SQLs.

SALs are leads that your sales team chooses for further development. If all goes well, they could become SQLs–and, eventually, turn into customers. 

Why Are SQLs Important?

Understanding the different stages of the sales funnel is a critical part of your marketing and demand generation strategy. Once you know how to define a sales-qualified lead, you can focus on the right leads at the right time. 

Tracking your SQLs can also give your sales team insight into what strategies are working and which ones aren’t. How many qualified prospects are coming in? How often is your team closing SQLs to make a sale?

How Are Sales Qualified Leads Measured?

In order to nurture sales-qualified leads, you have to qualify them first. Every sales team will have different criteria to define the right leads for their demand generation and lead generation initiatives. There’s no one “right answer,” but there are some common strategies to measure your SQLs. 

  • Lead Scoring: Lead scoring is the process of assigning a value to each lead. For example, you can score leads based on the actions they’ve taken, like submitting contact information or requesting a quote. This tactic can make the process of lead nurturing more efficient, allowing salespeople to focus on the most valuable leads. 
  • Lead Behavior: Another way to measure an SQL is by analyzing lead behavior. Think about what actions might indicate that a lead is ready to move on in the sales process — for example, submitting a contact form, responding to an email, or taking part in a demo. 
  • Likelihood To Buy: For a lead to move from MQL to SQL, there must be intent to buy. One way to determine which leads are SQLs is to see if they check off the boxes. Here are some indicators that a lead is likely to buy: 
    • They need your product or service
    • They have a pain point your product or service can solve
    • They have the budget to purchase your product or service
    • They have the infrastructure to use your product or service 

10 Ways To Produce More SQLs

There are a few different ways you can generate more SQLs for your business. Depending on your business, different tactics might be more successful than others. It may take some experimentation to find what brings you the best results. 

To get you started, here are 10 ways you can produce more SQLs.

1. Segment Your Leads

Get specific and nurture your leads by dividing and conquering. Try segmenting them by their type of business or their level of interest in what you offer. Then, you can target your outreach more effectively based on what category they belong to.

2. Make a Contact Form

A great way to capture new leads is by creating a contact form. While a separate contact form on your website can work, making it a pop-up can be even more effective. 

3. Offer a Valuable Lead Magnet

To bring in more engaged prospective leads, try offering a lead magnet, like an e-book or a pdf, in exchange for contact information. If you provide some form of value, you’re making it worth the prospect’s time to engage with you. 

4. Leverage Social Media Automation

Social media is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to generate leads. Engaging with people on social media is completely organic, which helps build more trust with your brand–at no cost to you. Try using social media automation to bring even more people into your sales funnel. 

5. Make Things Personal

One of the best ways to turn new prospects into SQLs is to engage with them personally. Whether you contact them via email or social media, be sure to offer value first. Focus on building trust before you start asking for things in return.

6. Use the Right SEO Strategies

Use long-tail keywords to attract more leads to your landing page. These phrases have a lower search volume but a higher conversion rate. They also tend to be more specific, like “digital marketing for lawyers” instead of just “marketing” or “digital marketing.” 

7. Implement Marketing Automation

A marketing automation tool can help you move a prospective lead to an SQL with much less effort from your sales team. The right software can reduce manual labor by automating goals like lead scoring or lead nurturing to move customers along the pipeline. 

8. Create Content With Purchase Intent

Generating content early on in the sales funnel can help attract new prospects. But if you fail to keep engaging them as they move down the pipeline, you might lose out on potential SQLs. By creating content with purchase intent–like e-books on what you offer, blog posts covering pain points, or case studies to back up your results–you can drive more SQLs through the pipeline. 

9. Use Google Ads

Google Ads can be a cost-effective way of capturing high-quality leads. Many prospects turn to Google when they’re ready to make a purchase–if your ad stands out, SQLs will engage. 

10. Leverage Connected TV

While Google Ads is a great way at capturing self-identifying potential customers, Connected TV is highly effective for demand generation. Reach people who may need your service, but not yet know about it, moving them through the funnel. Plus, CTV advertising creates a halo-effect for other performance channels, so adding CTV can help boost the Google Ads strategy mentioned above.

How Performance TV Can Help You Generate SQLs

MNTN Performance TV can help you create and nurture your SQLs. With access to Oracle Data Cloud’s thousands of audiences, you can get specific and target your audience across the content they are watching. As you create SQLs and look to segment them further, Performance TV makes it easy to create and manage multiple campaigns. With Performance TV’s auto-optimization, you can select your main KPIs and allow the system to do the work for you, optimizing thousands of times throughout the campaign.

Performance TV’s reporting dashboard allows you to easily track your campaigns, so you can measure what strategies are working to create and convert SQLs. Plus, with Performance TV’s integration with Google Analytics, you can import your data into the Google Analytics account you’re already using to seamlessly track all of your performance campaigns across channels. 

Final Thoughts on Sales Qualified Leads

Getting sales-qualified leads is the key to a successful business. After all, it’s not just about getting leads through the door. It takes careful outreach and lead nurturing to drive real results.