Who needs an MQL process?

SiriusDecisions developed the Demand Waterfall, which is now widely used by B2B companies to measure their lead-to-funnel revenue. The Demand Waterfall methodology is a proven process that can only be successful if properly aligned with top-notch demand generation modeling and measurement. The two major stakeholders are sales and marketing teams. Marketing owns the process before a prospect reaches the Marketing Qualified Lead or “MQL” stage. Once it surpasses that threshold, it is handed over to sales. This moment where handoff occurs is the key to funnel success and many organizations struggle to get it right.

It is crucial that both teams agree not only on the definition of a qualified lead, but also the process of accepting or rejecting a lead.

How do you set up your marketing and sales handoff process for success?

1. Define your MQL & SAL Stages

Marketing Qualified is a marketing definition. Most commonly, MQLs could be part of a target account list, have a high engagement or profile score, or have actioned upon one or more of the following:

  • Contact Me Forms
  • Free Trial Signup
  • Demo Request
  • High value content engagement
  • Event Attendance

The crucial piece is aligning your MQL definition so that it closely mirrors a Sales Accepted Lead (SAL). Without this alignment, you’ll end up with either a low MQL to SAL conversion rate, or a team that just doesn’t utilize MQLs.

After you define what an SAL is, you’ll want to exclude those that don’t fit the definition from your MQL logic. For example, even if someone downloads an important piece of content, you may find you still exclude them. Common reasons are:

  • Status = Rejected or SPAM
  • No current open opportunity
  • No opportunity won/lost within the last 30 days
  • No recent MQLS within the last 15 days
  • No Student titles
  • No unsupported region
  • No unsupported verticals

2. Define your key metrics

Before you implement a process, define the metrics that will help run your business. If you define those metrics prior to creating a solution or build, you’ll ensure that the new process will give you the insights you need.

Here are some metrics to get you started:

Volume Metrics

  • Number of MQLs created by day/week/quarter/year
  • Ability to track multiple MQLs per lead or contact

Performance Metrics

  • Current Overdue MQLs by Rep
  • Time from MQL to SAL by Rep
  • Rejected MQLs by type
  • % of MQLs Rejected by SLA
  • MQLs by status by rep
  • Overdue MQLs by owner/region

Conversion Metrics

  • % of MQLs not meeting SLA (may need to exclude weekend submissions)
  • % of MQLs Converted, Rejected by timeframe

Campaign/Attribution Metrics

Number of MQLs created by:

  • Campaign
  • Campaign Type
  • Business Line
  • Target Account
  • Number of MQLs by campaign
  • MQL Status (Open, Working, Rejected, Converted)

You can always break your metrics down number by owner, owner team, as well as by campaign and campaign types. Write them all down.

3. Handoff

Once you have your MQL, SAL and metrics defined, you’ll need to finalize a handoff process. Things to think about — How will the owner be notified of a new MQL? How will the owner disposition the MQL?

Email Alerts
Depending on your sales team, you may need to send email alerts. For SDR teams with higher volumes of MQLs, it is common to turn off alerts with the expectation that they are monitoring their queues for MQLs throughout the day. On the other hand, Account Executives who may only get a handful of MQLs may appreciate an email alert. You’ll find out which teams are in need of an alert fairly quickly by monitoring overdue MQLs.

Lead Ownership
Once an MQL is assigned and the owner is notified, you need to outline the required steps to take ownership and work the MQL. The first thing to stress is that you can reject ANY MQL that does not meet SAL standards. It is ok to reject a lead if they are clearly spam, a student, or a competitor. You may exclude hand raisers, and require a call for them. If the MQL is in fact rejected, then update the status and mark the MQL as closed. It is best practice to require a rejected reason, which will give you insight to make your definition more precise. If the owner accepts the lead, they can update the MQL with “Working” and follow the process as expected. You may still require call logs/email logs and other fields to be updated, but from an MQL perspective, we just need to see an acceptance or rejection of each lead sent.

Find the MQL Solution best fit for your company

Depending on where you are as a marketing organization, you may be able to run your business and get all the insight you need with a very simple MQL process. For companies that are growing quickly and need to set up a demand generation machine that scales, it may be time for a custom solution. Either way, it is clear that every company needs a properly aligned MQL process in order to succeed.

The Basic Solution
For many companies, creating a few custom fields and automation is enough to monitor their MQL process. For example:

  1. Create new status on lead & contact called “Marketing Qualified”
  2. Create Date stamps on lead and contact for “MQL Date” and SAL Date” (you may want original and most recent)
  3. Create automations to update the above fields when an MQL occurs and when an MQL is either rejected or accepted.

The downside to a basic solution is that you’ll have little insight into leads and contacts that go through the funnel multiple times. You will only ever have insight to the most recent, or at most original and most recent cycles.

The Custom Solution
For those preparing for or experiencing high growth, you’ll want a custom object created to track MQLs. This object will be created whenever a lead or contact hits the MQL threshold and will track all metrics associated with the MQL. You’ll have insight into which campaign drove the MQL, multiple funnel engagements on a single lead or contact, and be able to track the owner of that specific MQL at the time of the interaction.

Interested in learning more about MQLs and how to improve your process? Check back on our website for more information coming soon!

Go Nimbly is the premier marketing and sales consultancy for SaaS companies. Founded and headquartered in San Francisco, Go Nimbly provides customers with a customized team to manage everything from strategy to execution for their marketing and sales systems. To learn more, visit gonimbly.com.