Marketing qualified leads used to be easy to identify – they’d call or respond to outbound communications. Now, in our information rich age, 57% of purchase decisions are made before a customer even talks to a supplier (CEB), which means your buyers are spending plenty of time researching and finding out about you before they even hit your website or speak to sales.
With this in mind, there needs to be new rules for identifying marketing qualified leads (MQLs) which rely on levels of engagement and activity with your brand both on your website and your owned channels. With sophisticated marketing technology this is possible and media owners such as TechTarget are making the monitoring of leads outside of your owned media even more of a reality. For the purpose of this post, we’re focusing on what makes a lead marketing qualified.
Some signs are obvious: where the prospect clearly contacts the organisation for a demo or to speak to sales, but other signs imply that the prospect is in an information gathering mode and could be interested in your product or solving a potential problem.
Each business and product’s sales process is different so MQL triggers must be tailored to suit your specific organisation.
Typical MQL triggers
Website Enquiry: They handraise through a form and request contact with sales or request a demo (if a product). This is the most obvious trigger, the prospect is clearly interested in the product or getting an understanding for what the product does.
Key website actions: Consumption of any specialist thought leadership content around buyer’s pains or industry challenges that your product solves. They might have attended a pertinent webinar or downloaded a particular whitepaper which features valuable content about the issue. Not all webinars or whitepaper downloads should trigger MQL status, just those relevant to these key challenges.
Lead score threshold: They have carried out a series of actions over a period of time that can be tracked using marketing automation or email tracking. These could range from a series of website visits, visits to key pages, download of information, email opens or social media engagement. Normally they become a MQL if they hit a given threshold and engagement is deemed high.
Outbound prospects engaging: When cold leads that are being targeted through telesales, email or direct mail go on to engage with the company, i.e. visiting the website and viewing several pages, it’s unlikely that they’ll trigger a threshold, but it might be worth a qualification call. To get this right IP tracking software is required that alerts outbound sales teams when their cold targets have reacted to a particular campaign.
Getting the MQL trigger criteria right is important and in most cases it requires continual evaluation. If the MQL criteria is too lax, sales will be spend too much time qualifying hundreds of duff leads. If the criteria is too strict, you run the risk of missing potential opportunities and a quick call from the inside sales team can assess the nature and ‘warmth’ of the lead in order to decide whether to take it forward.