How Marketing Qualified Leads fit into the Demand Waterfall

In marketing automation a marketing qualified lead is a term commonly used to describe a stage in the demand “waterfall.”  The term “waterfall” is a metaphor for key funnel stages coined by SiriusDecisions.

The Demand Waterfall for Marketing Qualified Leads

Provide a Clear Distinction of Lead Stages

Smart marketing automation and sales lead generation professionals use an agreed upon language to describe funnel stages provides distinction and clarity to the various types of “leads” in the marketing and sales function.

Prevents Miscommunication and Upset

Without this clarity meaningful conversations will be difficult to have consistently because of variance in the definition of terms. Without this clarity upset is sure to be added to the mix as unmet expectations are inevitable.

Definition of Terms

As Socrates said, “Wisdom begins with a definition of terms.”  With its Demand Waterfall, SiriusDecisions created a common definition of the term “lead” between sales and marketing by labeling each progressive stage in the marketing and sales funnel.

The following are examples of stages:

  • Marketing Qualified Lead
  • Sales Ready Lead
  • Sales Accepted Lead
  • Sales Qualified Lead
  • Sales Rejected Lead

Compare and Contrast Marketing/Sales Lead Stages

Assuming the definitions are equivalent, these stage definitions allow for comparison of conversion rates over time within one company, and at any time between different companies in a market. These comparisons facilitate program management, identification of funnel leakage, testing and competitive assessments.

What Does Marketing-Qualified Lead or MQL Mean?

It means anything you, your marketing team and sales team agree it means.

Our standard definition is that a MQL or marketing qualified lead is a lead that looks enough like our ideal prospect or client description that further communication, qualification and inclusion in the pipeline report or forecast makes sense.

  • Once this MQL achieves a satisfactory lead score the lead may be sent to sales for review for becoming a Sales Accepted Lead (SAL).
  • Once a SAL has been checked out by sales in can become a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL). This is a lead in which sales will invest time.
  • The key concept: Does this “lead” look like your ideal prospect or customer definition?
  • This can be done by implicit or explicit lead score measures such as industry, title, role, solution interest, geography, etc.