Before we delve into understanding the different types of B2B leads, Information Qualified Leads (IQLs), Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs), and Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs), let us first get to know what you mean by a lead.
What is a Lead?
A lead is an individual or a company with an interest in the product or service you provide. These individuals or companies show their interest by either sharing their email ID, phone number, etc.
Which business doesn’t want more leads? Marketing wants more leads, Salespeople want more leads, and company leadership wants more leads.
The only problem is that if you ask people in your company to define what a lead is, almost every person will have a different definition. To eliminate this confusion, you need to have clear, agreed upon, and written down characteristics of what constitutes a lead for your company.
The tug of war between Marketing and Sales is legendary and can lead to a loss in business growth if both teams are not aligned properly. Without clearly defined lead characteristics, Marketing keeps sending every lead to Sales. The Sales team wastes a lot of energy and resources going through the leads only to realize the leads are not sales-ready. It leads to the overall business performance getting affected.
Businesses where the Marketing and Sales team worked together saw a whopping growth in annual revenue, and companies that had poorly aligned departments saw a significant loss in revenue.
Types of Leads
There are 3 types of leads
1) Information Qualified Leads
2) Marketing Qualified Leads
3) Sales Qualified Leads
These Leads can be aligned to the customer life cycle to understand better, which leads are IQL, MQL, and SQL.
What is Information Qualified Leads?
Information Qualified Leads or IQLs are the weakest leads and have just entered your Marketing and Sales funnel.
Since these leads are not aware of your company and what you do, the information that these leads exchange for your content is usually just their email ids.
Companies can share educational content to push these leads down the funnel further and convert them to Marketing Qualified Leads. To acquire more information on these leads, you need to provide high-value content to help them to learn more about your brand and help build trust.
What is Marketing Qualified Leads?
Marketing Qualified Leads or MQLs are those leads that have better chances of becoming a customer as compared to other leads. There will be many visitors to your website, and not all will be MQLs. Some of those visitors would be interested in your content (IQLs) but would not fit your buyer personas.
To understand which leads are MQLs, you need to analyze lead behavior and their engagement level, including content offer downloads, the number of visits to the website, and the pages that the lead is visiting. The MQLs will be downloading top of the funnel content offers.
To separate MQLs from unqualified leads, you need to use a lead scoring system. Lead scoring
involves assigning points to actions that visitors take.
- Visitor downloads an eBook from your website and shares contact information and pain point – +30 points.
- Subscriber clicks on a link in your email marketing campaign – + 10 points
- Visitor fills an online form – + 10 points
- Messages you on LinkedIn – +5 points
Once a visitor reaches a certain level of points, they can be converted to Marketing Qualified Leads. These MQLs have shown sufficient interest and are now ready for an in-depth conversation with your Sales team.
What are Sales Qualified Leads?
Sales Qualified Leads or SQLs are ready for a more in-depth conversation with Sales, but they also have to show an intent to buy your product or service. SQLs fit your buyer personas
and have demonstrated that they need to buy your product/ service. They are further down the Buyers’ Journey and have specific questions about your product/service.
MQLs can be defined by using automated software that assigns points but defining SQLs is a bit complicated. SQLs will involve the leads speaking to Sales to answer their specific questions where certain factors need to be considered.
The SQL lead will
- Have a desire to speak to sales about pricing and how your product works (ask for a demo)
- Want to see if your product fits in their ecosystem and the ease of use
- They will want to understand if your product is scalable
For the sales team to successfully qualify an SQL, they need to
- Find out if the person who initiated the contact has a role to play in facilitating the decision to purchase among other stakeholders of their company
- Create a business case for your product/service
- Discover if your product is solving a latent or obvious pain point of your customer
- Assess the timeline for sale to happen
It will help them move the SQLs to opportunities that can be further nurtured to turn them into customers.
Handing off leads and moving them from IQL to SQL is pretty similar to a relay race that we took part in during our school days. The team’s success depended on the flawless coordination between each team member—the baton passed smoothly from one team member to another. If any team member dropped the baton, they had to work extra hard to gain the lost time.
Similarly, Marketing and Sales have to work together to have a smooth flow of leads from IQL, MQL to SQL. It will impact the company’s bottom line and provide the prospect with a smooth experience as he moves from the top of the funnel to the bottom of the funnel and makes a purchase.
So, what type of leads do you have for your B2B company?