UQL, MQL, SQL: Take Me to Your LEADer
Sales leads are contact information from people interested in a specific product or service. Fragile as an egg and perishable as a yogurt smoothie on a hot summer day, leads are generated through a variety of activities. They can be actively generated through outbound marketing activities such as trade shows, advertising, email marketing, direct contact, or telemarketing. They can also be generated passively through inbound marketing activities such as content marketing, videos, social media, websites, and eCommerce.
The importance of inbound/digital marketing was uncovered in a 2015 study by Forrester Research which found that “74% of business buyers told us they conduct more than half of their research online before making an offline purchase.”
Before the advent of digital marketing, sales leads were generated, logged for tracking in spreadsheets or databases by Marketing, and then turned over to Sales for follow-up as an unqualified lead, or UQL. Comparatively speaking, all unqualified leads had equal value, and Sales took the leads to either successfully close a sale, or to earn a consolation prize of a set of steak knives at the Annual Sales Awards Banquet. Under this system, there was no way to measure the quality of unqualified leads.
WIth digital marketing, leads are nurtured with content from Marketing until they reach a certain level of interest, or point score, and are then turned over to Sales as a Marketing Qualified Lead or MQL. When Sales qualifies a lead it becomes an SQL, which engenders a higher level of confidence than an MQL, and the salesperson then works on closing the lead to a sale.
Tracking leads manually is a tiresome, tedious, and time-consuming process. While the lead is working its way through the tracking system, the prospect is either waiting for information or is evaluating the competition. Leads are rated on a heat index, much like peppers (though Scoville Units aren’t used). The goal of all lead management is to get the lead quickly through the process — from contact to a close or sale.
|Lead Temperature||Lead Characteristics||New Paradigm|
|Warm||Prospect is aware of your product. They may be in contact with you. There is a budget for purchase, but the purchase may not be approved.||Nurture.|
|Hot||Prospect is ready or almost ready to make a purchase. They have authority to purchase.||Bring to Close.|
|Cold||Prospect has lost interest or lost funding.||Nurture or move to maintenance mode.|
Leads and Marketing Automation
If the purpose of marketing is to generate demand in the market for your product or service, the currency of marketing is the sales lead. Many marketing departments are graded not only on the number of leads generated but also on the quality of leads. To be sure, it would be irresponsible to simply focus on unqualified leads.
For many years, the marketing function has been looked at as a cost center, while Sales has been viewed as the profit-generating group, because the ability to connect a marketing effort to a sale has always been inferred — a tenuous tie at best. Because of the tracking functions embedded in the digital marketing process, direct links can now be established, and marketing budgets can now be correlated to sales results, resulting in C-Suite nirvana. The contract between Sales and Marketing can now be written around a metric that includes a marketing service level of X number of marketing qualified leads, delivered to Sales each month.
Lead time is the time it takes to get a product from a sale to delivery. Lead timing is the time it takes for a lead to work through your lead process, and it depends on a lot of different factors, like: the complexity of the product, the complexity of the acquisition or sale process, services required, legal implications, cost and payment structure, quantity, etc., and it will vary by product. Every sales and marketing leader should know the time a sale will take from contact to close, so you can plan to ensure you have a sustainable revenue stream. Everything should be done from the sales and marketing areas to facilitate the decision process because Leads = Sales = Revenue.
If you need help with lead generation, qualification, or lead processing, contact us for a 30- minute consultation.