Are MQLs Still Relevant in the Sales Funnel?

are mqls still relevant

What is the value of a lead if it cannot be converted into a sale? One of the biggest challenges in sales is converting potential customers to actual customers. In the past, a “lead” was defined as someone willing to pay for something you have. 

It was that simple. 

But in today’s highly digitized world, competition is fierce, and leads are practically a dime a dozen. It is no longer about getting a lead, it’s about getting the right lead

Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) are defined as leads that have expressed interest in a product or service and have a high likelihood of becoming a customer. The challenge most teams encounter in getting MQLs to sales development representatives (SDR)and then having these leads cycle through the sales funnel. Without the right strategy for handling MQLs, firms find it difficult to achieve return on investment (ROI) within the desired timeframe. 

According to Ascend2, 40% of marketing, sales, and business professionals admit that a lack of an effective strategy is the most challenging obstacle in lead generation success.

Strategically managing MQLs is critical to being able to generate the right ROI. What separates MQLs from other leads is behavior; MQLs often take action toward your organization and/or services. For example, they will have taken advantage of introductory items such as free e-books, filled out a form, added items to their website shopping cart, or repeatedly visited your website. 

Enter intent data. Intent data is the lifeblood of sales and marketing because it offers insights into online actions that indicate potential to purchase. Intent data removes the guesswork in lead analysis and helps shorten the lead to sale conversion cycle. Intent data allows firms to focus more time, resources, and energy on active consumers. 

Challenges Associated with MQL

According to MarketingSherpa, more than 79% of marketing leads don’t convert to sales, most likely due to the lack of lead nurturing. 

Like most technologies and strategies, MQL standards need to be evaluated. Some of the common challenges associated with MQL that makes conversion of leads a tall order include:

Getting Lost in the Lead System

Without the right system in place and the right combination of technology and human resource, viable MQLs become irrelevant because they get lost in the process. Unfortunately, it’s common for leads to languish in the customer relationship management (CRM) system. 

Overwhelming Lead Volume

Balancing quality and quantity has been an age-old debate: Do we go after fewer personalized leads, or should we get as many leads as possible but with fewer touchpoints with the customers? MQLs could fall through the cracks if teams are not able to find the sweet spot for optimization and scale. 

Different Approaches to Sales

Each SDR has their own personality and way of doing business. They utilize different approaches, which makes it all the more important that a universal approach, message, and tone is echoed throughout the sales and marketing teams. 

MQLs Have Evolved

Many companies undoubtedly face these common challenges. Fortunately, there are many tools available to aid in the process. It’s important to note that MQL is not dead—it has just transformed and companies must also evolve to keep pace with the competition.

MQL remains relevant in today’s client acquisition process. Marketing is the take-off point that leads to ROI. Lead generation is vital and remains a critical part of the business process that should be maximized. 

Likewise, it produces trends with regard to the effectiveness of marketing campaigns and identifies opportunities for growth. 

MQLs have evolved, but the strategies for converting them to paying customers may still be catching up. MQL has expanded from the confines of Budget Authority Need Timeline (BANT) lead quality assessment to becoming more targeted with the use of intent data. MQL coupled with the powerful predictions of intent data allows sales teams to determine who is ready to buy. Having relevant, accurate, and near real-time intent data provides a richer understanding of prospects and their needs. These insights allow marketers to develop a more targeted approach and narrow down what products or services can be offered to them. 

To create a sustainable sales pipeline, MQL with intent data paired with databases and sources allows for a more holistic scoring model that reflects an accurate picture of each lead and which are most likely to buy. 

Take back ownership of the sales and marketing pipeline, increase demand generation ROI, and achieve your sales and marketing demand generation goals.