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As an alarm company or systems integrator, you may have heard of the terms SQL (sales qualified lead) and MQL (marketing qualified lead) , but they are often mixed up with other marketing terms. These terms may seem confusing but it’s important for you to know the difference between SQL and MQL, since the sales cycle is typically much longer than security dealers focused on residential sales . There are various stages of the sales process, and MQL and SQL are critical for you to understand where a customer is at in their journey to becoming your new client.
Marketing Qualified Lead vs. Sales Qualified Lead
MQL stands for Marketing Qualified Lead. An MQL is further along in the sales process when compared to the ordinary person who finds your company but isn’t nearly ready to buy. MQLs may like the services your company offers and have a need for them.
Think of it this way: Many people may connect with your security company. They may visit your website, attend your webinars, or chat with you at a trade show.
For some of these people, the security systems and services you offer are exactly what they’re looking for. But for others, your product or service is not a good fit. They may never be in the position to buy anything from you at all.
The people in that first group — those who are interested and have the potential to buy your product — are your MQLs.
Separating MQLs from unqualified leads typically involves using a lead-scoring system. You’ll assign a certain set of points to actions people might take, such as:
- Reading or clicking a link in an email message you sent.
- Chatting with you on social media.
- Downloading an ebook.
- Filling out an online form.
Once people have amassed enough points, due to all of the actions they’ve taken over time, they can be considered MQLs.
They’ve shown enough interest that it seems likely they are ready to deepen the conversation with someone — typically in sales — within your company.
What Is A Sales Qualified Lead?
SQL stands for Sales Qualified Lead, and these leads are even further along in the sales process than MQLs. They’ve shown a more intense interest in your services or products and are ready to buy. Identifying SQLs is a bit more difficult than MQLs. Normally this occurs once someone in sales converses with a potential client.
An SQL (Sales Qualified Lead) Might:
- Have questions about costs or what the installation process and timelines look like.
- Not know if your solution is the right one for them.
- Need more information to see if a systems product integrates with the other ones they use.
- Not have found the answers to questions they have about the product in your marketing materials.
This person has not only shown a deep interest in your commercial security systems and services, but they have also shown some sort of intent to purchase. They not only like what you offer, but they actually need to buy what you sell. They also may need to make that purchase in the near future.
While defining an MQL can be done manually by an experienced security marketing team, or through automated software that assigns scores, defining an SQL is a little trickier. Typically, this is something that involves a conversation between someone in sales and the potential lead. At the end of that discussion, if the salesperson senses a real opportunity, this person moves into the SQL category.
Why is It Important to Know the Difference Between SQLs and MQLs?
Defining the position of a client in your sales process is critical because it shows who in your company should have the next interaction with them. You can easily lose a sale if you improperly define what the next step should be.
Connecting a customer with sales too early puts the sales team in the position of having to describe the products and services your company offers. That is a marketing task.
Also, if you connect a consumer too soon to sales, they may feel pressured to buy and that may cause them to back off. If it’s a continual problem, then you have the potential to lose huge amounts of profits, and that can significantly impact the success of your business.
How a Marketing Agency Can Help with the Sales Process
A marketing agency that specializes in the security industry performs a variety of essential tasks related to your company’s sales. They inform would-be customers about your products and services through blog articles and social media marketing. Marketing agencies can manage your social media to include interacting with other companies and customers to increase your visibility and illustrate your expertise. They analyze the statistics associated with your sales and marketing to ensure that your company increases its reach and sales and improves your ROI.
Transitioning From Theory Into Action
While defining an MQL and an SQL is vital — it’s also personal. That means there’s no handy template you can download in order to sort your leads. Instead, you’ll need to have some in-depth conversations within your sales and marketing teams. You’ll need to discuss your:
- Customer personas.
- Typical time to close projects.
- Marketing resources.
- Customer/prospect lists.
- Lead scoring method.
You’ll need to think about how each persona interacts with your company during each buying phase. You’ll define what steps are meaningful and signal a deeper commitment. You’ll also identify the assets you’re missing that could compel action. Those are the decisions that will help set up your lead scoring method. You’ll use them to understand how an MQL is passed to sales — and what comes next.
When you have a theory in place, sales and marketing will need to keep that conversation going. It’s vital for marketing to know more about the leads that sales finds easiest to convert.
How long have these leads been in the pipeline? What assets did they touch? What sorts of companies are they from? What are their titles? Sales teams may encourage their marketing colleagues to lock MQL rules down tight. That way, the leads they’re given almost always convert into SQLs and sales.
Unfortunately, a system that’s calibrated too carefully can lead to very empty, loose sales pipelines. And that can leave sales teams with little — or nothing — to do all day. Meeting regularly to discuss opportunities won, opportunities lost and lessons learned can help the entire group to come up with a plan for the future.
Work With A Marketing Agency In The Security Industry
To borrow a line from a well known insurance commercial, “We know a thing or two, because we’ve seen a thing or two”. Identifying MQLS and SQLs starts with capturing the right data. Ignite can help you grab that data. We can track activity from all of your leads at all stages of the purchase cycle. Contact us today for a free demo, and start empowering your commercial sales team to get the sales intelligence that they need in real time, every time.