A Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) is a lead that has been processed using marketing tools to ensure that the lead is ready to move forward in the sales pipeline. MQL’s are commonly groomed using e-mail marketing tools, branded content, survey forms and behavioral analysis. MQL’s convert at 3x the speed and 25% of the cost of a non-qualified lead because the qualification process is carried out largely using marketing automation.
Building a lead qualification process requires you to look at your sales process and identify inflection points where marketing tools like e-mail, branded content, surveys, chats and page performance can help identify a lead as qualified and ready to buy. The easiest tool to perform the analysis in is the sales pipeline and if your business does not have one, you are at a disadvantage to managing points where clients get stuck and using marketing tools to continue them through the pipeline to conversion. Let’s take a look…
Every business has a different sales pipeline for a reason – the pipeline reflects the business process to convert visitors to buyers and every business is different. In our example, the sales pipeline identifies steps where a sales opportunity might stall out and never reach close all the way from visitor to buyer. Advertising, Marketing and Sales play roles to build the sales funnel and run customers through the sales pipeline. Note that the funnel begins with a broad universe and then narrows to the final customers. Understanding attrition in the pipeline enable sales, marketing and advertising to change tactics to convert more customers and to identify which function provides which service in qualifying leads and making the pipeline more productive (e.g higher close rates) and more profitable (e.g. closing better deals).
Customers enter the pipeline anonymously (Visitors) and become known through data tracking (Prospects) and when they become identifiable (Leads) then it is time to qualify them. Marketing Qualification commonly begins with a Lead being processed to understand their ability to traverse the sales pipeline. That could include the use of Forms to complete the buyer profile, Surveys to collect details on buyer needs, and Content to Educate and Stimulate Demand. The MQL process is reliant on the SQL process; does Sales determine if the lead has a budget or is that a marketing function? Depending on your business and products and services you sell, that role falls to either function and should be tracked to determine where it performs the best.
Sales Qualified Leads are the third and final step in the sales pipeline process where Sales will take the lead and finish verifying customer needs and aligning them against products and services and a known budget or propensity to buy. Sales know the lead is the buyer and if not, they are the gatekeeper and the buyer has been added to the sales process. Once all elements of sale qualification are known and pain points understood, sales provide a proposal. The proposal and acceptance stages move quickly because the businesses are already aligned. That alignment, when done properly, accelerates contracts and closes. During the SQL process, marketing may provide brand reputation management content that reinforces the company as the right choice and nurtures the deal to close.
Many small businesses often simplify the sales pipeline process if it is used at all. Lack of resources and a feeling to go after every single lead not knowing where the next one will come from can lead to chasing opportunities that do not exist. The qualification process confirms buyer intent, buyer ability to purchase, buyer willingness to purchase, and buyer timeframes. The sales pipeline is an invaluable tool and easy to set up in any of a number of platforms including Pipedrive, HubSpot, Hatchbuck and others. Applying marketing automation to the qualification process enables a small business where the owner of the company may be sales, marketing, operations, finance, and HR to shift the burden to the customer to qualify for service and put the owner to work on more higher-value components like the proposal and closing process.
According to Salesforce.com fewer than 10% of small businesses use CRM in their business today. If you are tired of chasing leads that go nowhere but consume your time and money to chase, build a sales pipeline that will help you manage your time and resources to greater profitability, faster close times, and higher productivity.
TBG Marketing is a Pipedrive partner and can help you build your sales pipeline and marketing qualification process using marketing automation services. Get your sales under control – the extra time you save not chasing unqualified leads gives you more time to hit the beach.