When there is a user on your site, and they engage with your content/site/brand, when do you send them to your SDR team? How are they supposed to interact with them and when do they send them to Sales? An MQL, or Marketing Qualified Lead, is a threshold where a prospect has "raised their hand high enough" to be passed to Sales.
It's normal for companies to grow quickly and invest in their tech stack only to realize... we aren't all on the same page and the problem is too big to solve alone.
Why are there problems with MQL communication in so many companies?
It's an old trope that Sales and Marketing don't like working together and there is a simple reason.
Marketing is incentivized to produce a high volume of leads while sales wants high quality leads, without sacrificing a high volume.
Additionally, building this is hard! It involves a Marketing Automation System integration to your CRM, functioning across Leads and Contacts, complex campaign associations, and depends on end users to mark status/stages accurately (which takes a lot of management time and focus). This is not an "on-top of your normal job" type of project for an admin, which is why we get called into help so often.
3 Questions to ask your team
When is an MQL an MQL?
Many companies will pass any quality of lead to the Sales Team, but that's often because they don't have a way to pass enough leads to for sales to work. Sales starts clamoring for more, but the only way to do that is to drive down the quality until it's almost non-existent.
When a lead is passed to Sales, Marketing should be saying "This lead is qualified enough to be worth your time." Here are some examples of what isn't an MQL:
A lead that was downloaded from ZoomInfo.
A lead that was on that list of conference attendees.
A lead that was sent a drip email, and hasn't responded.
First step is creating a Lead Scoring model which adds and subtracts points based on interactions with your business. Visited the site? Boom -> +5 points. Downloaded a webinar? Wowza -> +20 points... When a lead reaches threshold (I like to use 50 and adjust from there), you would call that an MQL.
Second step is creating a Lead Grading model which looks at the Department, Location, Seniority, Company Fit etc... and determines if your company actually wants to do business with theirs? For instance, if an SMB Account Executive at ZoomInfo downloaded a white paper on Heavy Industrial Machinery Safety Glasses, you wouldn't want to send them to an SDR.
How should SDR's/Sales work leads?
Parallel to the quality conversation on leads coming in, the way they are worked by the Sales and SDR teams are equally as important. Nothing will piss off a Marketing person more than them sending 100 high quality leads and the Sales Team not doing anything with them.
Almost every company uses some version of SalesLoft or an Outreach, so the first step is often putting them into a cadence and letting it ride! (In general, we don't see this part automated, as it's helpful to have human eyes direct the right content towards this qualified prospect.) You should know the answers to:
How fast should they reach out to the leads?
What should their messaging be (and if possible automate it)?
When should they move a lead to Recycling or Unqualified?
When should they promote it to be an Opportunity?
How do we keep the teams accountable?
Instead of talking here about management... build it into your Revenue plan. Executives love aligning goals/incentives, so there it is.
Define your KPIs including the thresholds to define your funnel steps.
MQL -> Lead Score Threshold Met
SAL -> Contact made, light qualification
SQL -> Sales confirmed, there is an Opportunity
Opportunity -> Product Value Fit confirmed, there are $$ on the Opportunity
Won -> Closed Won Business
Secure commitments on departmental goals. Marketing will have the # of MQL's delivered (quantity) and MQL to SAL conversion rates (quality), and Sales will commit to expected funnel conversion rates and activity metrics (Time to first Call, Activities before Recycled/Unqualified).
Build into your Revenue Plan and meet on it regularly. You'll now be able to see where the hole is (if there is one). If there aren't enough MQL's, marketing isn't able to produce the quantity and quality of leads with the budget they were allocated - look at tactics. If MQL to SAL conversion is low, then Marketing and Sales need alignment. If the SAL to SQL conversion is low, then SDR's and AE's need alignment. If SQL to Opportunity or Opportunity to Won is low, it's either value proposition or closing which is the driving pain.
When to bring someone in?
Having these conversations can be difficult as there are many stakeholders involved. Thresholds and KPI's for every business vary. If having a guide to this difficult process would help you get to a win faster then a consulting firm might be a good fit. Additionally, the integration and methodology to pass MQL's across both Leads and Contacts while Managing SLA's is very complex. This is a large project for an Admin with other responsibilities unless they are very experienced.
At The Sales Nerd, we are experts in leading groups to build these definitions. We also have best practices to facilitate the MAS and SFDC communications necessary to pass leads effectively while tracking the KPI's to report on your funnel. We can help you develop the strategy and execute the Salesforce work to let you analyze your funnel.