A qualified lead is a potential client in your sales and marketing funnel who is more likely to convert than other leads.
Typically, sales and marketing funnels contain specific stages which represent your buyer’s journey. All companies may use a custom funnel depending on their product, but a simple funnel has the following stages:
- Awareness: This is where your potential customer becomes aware of your brand’s existence.
- Interest: Once these potential customers become more interested in your brand/product and start looking for more information or incentive, they move to the second stage of the funnel.
- Desire: At this stage, the customer is almost ready to convert but needs a little more convincing with promotions or exclusive deals.
- Conversion: At the end of your funnel, your potential customer finally converts and makes a purchase. To keep them coming back, they need constant reminders of why they liked you in the first place.
It makes sense that not all leads are ready to purchase your product and convert immediately. They require a different kind of treatment in each stage. Depending on which stage a customer is in, they have distinct “titles.” Companies can also apply lead scoring systems to give a numeric qualification value to each lead.
What is lead scoring?
Lead scoring is the system of rating or giving points to leads for their actions to determine their quality. To determine how the marketing and sales teams should treat each lead, they need to be categorized. This is why the leads are given points for either visiting a particular page on a website, interacting with an email, purchasing a product, or taking other actions. This helps the sales teams understand where each potential customer is in the sales funnel to nurture them accordingly. They can put them in categories like “unqualified,” “marketing qualified,” “sales qualified,” etc.
Unqualified vs qualified leads
Regardless of being qualified or not, all leads pass through a sales funnel. Some may get stuck or not finish the journey. If a lead is qualified, you can be sure to turn them into a customer one day with the proper efforts. Spending your efforts on trying to convert unqualified leads can be expensive and time-consuming. In other words, it’s just not worth it. Here are the 3 main differences between unqualified and qualified leads.
– Budget and decision-making: A qualified lead can afford your product and is in the position to make the buying decision. Unqualified leads have neither the decision-making powers nor the budget for your product.
– Problem – Solution: Your solution clearly solves a qualified lead’s problem. Usually, unqualified leads are either unsure of their problem or unsure if your solution solves their pain.
– Awareness: Unqualified leads may be unsure of what your brand is even offering. On the other hand, qualified leads know what’s available on the market and know what’ll solve their problems.
Types of qualified leads
Usually, you wouldn’t hear the term “qualified lead” on its own. Some more common phrases are Information Qualified Lead (IQL), Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL), Sales Qualified Lead (SQL), etc. These types of leads are further down your funnels than regular leads. Here are the 3 most common types of qualified leads and how you can nurture them.
Information Qualified Lead (IQL)
If a lead provides you with their contact information to get some useful and relevant information from you, they can be considered Information Qualified Leads. These potential customers are usually at the beginning of your sales and marketing funnels. They don’t know a lot about your brand or products yet, but they are open to learning. In the most common cases, the IQL downloads a report or template from your website, leaving the window open for you to nurture them.
To nurture these leads, you can use email marketing tactics to send them more valuable information, exclusive promo deals, or free samples of what they previously downloaded. You should also send them information about the solution your brand provides. Although these qualified leads aren’t as likely to convert as others, they are worth the effort. They are usually considered to be cold leads and require lots of nurturing.
Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)
Marketing Qualified Leads are the potential customers who engaged with marketing content you’ve sent out to them. These leads aren’t ready to convert quite yet, but some nurturing efforts can push them over the edge. MQLs are further down the buyer’s journey than IQLs and will become SQLs if nurtured properly.
If you want these qualified leads to convert, you can keep sending them informational materials or start directing them to the “desire” stage, where they make their purchasing decision. Marketers consider these potential customers as warm leads.
Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)
If an MQL passes to the decision-making stage, they become an SQL. This means that these qualified leads will convert if your sales team acts fast and closes the deal. They need to have a conversation with the SQL, establish their pain point, and make sure your solution fits. The rest is up to your sales team and their tactics.
SQLs are considered hot leads. They require sales teams to respond fast, and the faster they are, the higher the closing rate will be. By acting quickly, brands show that they care about their customers and are focused on solving their problems.