MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead)

What is an MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead)?

In the sales process, a Marketing Qualified Lead is classified as such when they have shown some degree of engagement that signals to the marketing team that their interest is genuine. From there, the marketing team is able to decide whether or not the lead is worth pursuing and can pass the lead over to sales. 


  • marketing leads
  • qualified marketing lead
  • marketing accepted lead

Identifying Marketing Qualified Leads

By definition, marketing qualified leads are deeper in the funnel than the introduction phase. This kind of lead demonstrates a firm grasp of your business, what your product or service offering is as well as how it might help them in their own business. In essence, they have some degree of understanding around what it is you offer and how it can benefit them. 

At this point within your customer journey, your business should have several interactions with these leads – in the form of email inquiries, responses to live chats, or website interactions. MQLs closely align to the profile of your target audience, relating closely to and having a good recognition of your brand – which qualifies them as this kind of lead.  

It’s crucial to note that these leads are interested in learning more – as they’ve just scratched the surface – and your sales team will need to spend time getting to know and nurture these relationships in order to convert them to SQLs. 

Where Marketing Qualified Leads Fit into the Customer Lifecycle

A top of funnel (TOF) lead is said to be an MQL when the lead takes a certain action to show their interest in the business i.e. visiting the website, filling in a contact form or sending an email inquiry. As such, the lead appears to be a promising candidate to court via sales operations. The role of the marketing framework is to attract the attention of potential customers and highlight key aspects of the business and its offering in order to pique interest. 

Once this prospective customer has seen marketing material that resonates with them, they will express some kind of interest in taking the conversation further; this could be via an inquiry through the website or a request for a callback. 

It’s now the role of the marketing team to flag these inbound leads to the sales team – outlining the kind of content they’ve shown interest in or interacted with – so that both teams can mark the lead as an MQL and take the next steps to nurture the lead. 

The aim of the customer journey is to build awareness among the target audience, pique interest so these incoming leads take action – flagging interest among the team – and can eventually be nurtured from an MQL in the top of the sales funnel to an SQL further down, where costs and offering can be unpacked in detail. 

Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) vs. Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)

Understanding the difference between an MQL and an SQL is often not as straightforward as you’d think. For some businesses, the definitions aren’t clear cut and the 2 lead types can have similar traits. 

  1. Marketing Qualified Lead
    An MQL is a lead who has expressed interest in what your business offers based on marketing efforts. In essence, a MQL would have been introduced to your products or services through your marketing department when looking for a solution to an existing problem in their business and now have the potential to be moved further down in the buyer journey of your business. 
  1. Sales Qualified Lead
    In the sales process, MQLs become SQLs once that have been qualified by more than just their behavior on your website. Most companies – depending on the size of their sales team – qualify a lead as an SQL when they have managed to gather certain information from them, like their name, role, pain points and the solution they’re seeking. This better equips the sales force to meet with and sell the lead a solution that they know fits their need.  

By taking time to map out your business’s sales qualification framework, you’ll be better equipped to qualify your sales leads and ensure you’re able to significantly improve your close ratio

How to Generate and Qualify Marketing Leads

How to Attract MQLs

When it comes to attracting MQLs, it’s all about your marketing collateral, investment and effort. What you put in is ultimately what you’ll get out. 

Step 1 of building out a robust marketing plan to attract ideal leads is to outline your ideal buyer persona. A buyer persona is a representation of your ideal customer, based upon a wide range of data gathered from your vertical market you exist in, as well as research into your close competition. It can also be informed by a preexisting customer profile. Getting your marketing team to generate a buyer persona is less about creating a profile of your ideal customer, and more about using it to build a bank of marketing material, sales aids and product collateral to market to your potential customers. 

Investing in marketing efforts where your ideal customers already are, is key. For example, a strategic digital marketing plan built around their user habits and where they spend their time online is more likely to reach the right audience than if you sent out thousands of mailers in the hope of hitting the mark. 

Knowing that your MQLs are at the top of the sales funnel is important to keep in mind, as it means marketing efforts need to be focused on driving awareness and educating this audience, first and foremost. 

How to Qualify Marketing Leads

The definition of qualified lead is when the marketing team determines that a lead is viable and therefore ready to be shared with the sales team for next steps. But first, it’s essential for marketing and sales to sit together and determine at what point this handover should happen, as without an agreed way forward, they’ll be working alongside each other instead of together. 

Dealhub has identified key strategies to implement in order to qualify your marketing leads within your business:

  1. Develop an Agreed Upon Definition
    Sales and marketing must collaborate to develop this definition in order to both understand what is meant by a qualified lead, and when it’s the right time to move forward with the lead. 
  1. Use Buyer Personas to Get Started
    As outlined above, knowing who you’re aiming for and what they’re interested in is fundamental. 
  1. Get Feedback from the Sales Team
    When defining an MQL, it’s crucial that marketing understands what the sales team feels is a lead worth pursuing as well as what the easiest way to qualify this lead is. 
  1. Determining Key Qualifying Factors
    Factors such as industry, company size, role, location, and buyer’s role are all key characteristics the sales team will look for when deciding whether or not to pursue a lead.  
  1. Ability for Marketing Deliver Qualified Leads
    If parameters for qualification aren’t broad enough, the marketing team might struggle to provide sales with a suitable amount of leads. As an essential element in the process of defining leads, this may necessitate some careful communication between the two teams. 

Turning MQLs into SQLs

After marketing has taken the customer through a series of frameworks to understand their concerns, needs, budget, and appetite, an MQL then becomes an SQL. This knowledge will ensure that the sales team is properly informed when contacting a lead. It is then up to sales to assess whether the customer has the capability and willingness to pay for the solution.

MQLs cannot become SQLs without understanding where the prospects are in the buyer journey. Prospects may be highly engaged with marketing content and show interest in the offering, but they won’t become SQLs until sales has spoken with them to determine whether the customer’s commitment to the solution is a genuine decision to spend money. 

Sales and marketing need to work hand-in-hand to understand the customers’ needs and determine whether or not the interest shown has the probability of turning into a sales opportunity. 

People Also Ask

What is the difference between a lead and a marketing-qualified lead?

A lead is an inbound contact that has shown a certain level of interest in the business but has not yet engaged or shared any insight into what they want, their budget, or the problem they’re trying to resolve. 

On the other hand, a marketing-qualified lead is one which has interacted with the business in some way or another and has also shared information that marketing can use to determine their appetite and readiness to spend money. 

Why are marketing qualified leads important?

Marketing-qualified leads are important to the business as they’ve moved deeper into the sales funnel, showing propensity to invest in what the business is offering. Marketing material educates the lead around the offering and once they’ve seen this collateral and made further contact, it shows that the lead has potential of becoming an opportunity. 

How do you become a qualified lead in marketing?

A qualified marketing lead is one who has shown interest in what a brand has to offer as a result of exposure to their marketing and investment, or has otherwise shown themselves to have a higher likelihood of becoming a customer than other potential leads.

This is determined through a series of contact points – driven by marketing effort – as well as qualifying criteria set out by the marketing and sales teams.