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CRM and Sales

What is a MQL (marketing qualified lead?)

Rebecca Noori 8 min read
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Trying to win more sales can be a puzzle. You might be stumped if you’re attracting a constant stream of leads, but they’re not converting into sales. Or maybe, your sales team is frustrated that they’re wasting their time trying to sell to leads who clearly can’t afford your offering.

It’s time to summon the marketing qualified lead (MQL) to save your sales team from a mountain of unqualified leads. Let’s break down how MQLs fit into the overall sales process and how you can measure and track their status with

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What is a marketing qualified lead?

A prospect who’s interested and actively engaged in your product or service is the holy grail of marketing and sales teams. Essentially, a marketing qualified lead, or MQL, has been through your marketing funnel, shown interest in what you offer, and may be ready to purchase.

Lead qualification is an optional step in the sales cycle, but it’s one that reaps rewards. Some 67% of lost sales happen when sales reps don’t accurately qualify leads before reaching out for a sales conversation. So, it’s a step worth taking.

Although not all MQLs will eventually become customers, many will respond to further marketing efforts and interactions with your sales team.

Examples of MQL actions

Although each marketing team has its own way of determining whether a lead is worth pursuing, here are some hints they might be warming up to your offer:

  • Signing up for your newsletter
  • Joining a webinar
  • Downloading a white paper
  • Launching a chatbot conversation
  • Creating a wishlist
  • Registering for a software trial
  • Adding an item to an online shopping cart
  • Returning to your site or spending a lot of time on your web pages.

What’s the difference between a lead, MQL, and SQL?

Lead terminology includes several different phrases, each referring to different sales cycle stages.

  • A lead is an unqualified contact at the top of your sales funnel
  • A marketing qualified lead has already engaged with your company and may become a customer if you nurture them further.
  • A sales qualified lead is a prospective customer ready to have a conversation with a sales team member.

The BANT framework is a useful way to determine whether a lead is marketing or sales qualified.

BANT relates to:

  • Budget: do they have money to purchase your product or services?
  • Authority: are they a decision maker?
  • Need: do they require your product or service?
  • Timing: is now the right time to buy?

A sales qualified lead must satisfy each aspect of the BANT criteria. If one or more is missing, they’re likely to still be at the lead or MQL stage. RAIN Group research reveals that need and budget are the two most significant factors.

How can you identify a MQL?

Pinpointing a marketing qualified lead relies on multi-directional research to understand buyer behavior, the success of your past campaigns, and your position in the market. Follow these steps:

1. Analyze historical data

Track existing insights into marketing ROI, success metrics, and lead generation efforts. This will tell you which of your marketing campaigns have been most successful and the specific point where your leads garner interest.

2. Look at current buyer journeys

Analyze current behavior and trends to determine where to target marketing efforts for success. For example, do your leads tend to add items to a shopping cart immediately after you send out an email coupon? Or maybe they register for a software demo after your post about it on Twitter. These key clues will focus your marketing strategy.

3. Gather customer feedback

Surveys, interviews, and focus groups provide valuable information about the marketing campaigns hitting the mark. Gain further insights by monitoring social media activity, reading relevant forum threads, and keeping an eye on competitor marketing strategies.

4. Understand your competitors

Keep constant tabs on what your industry rivals are doing and why a lead may or may not choose your offering. For example, if you know that a lead is looking for a product feature your competitor brand offers but you don’t, then connect the dots to understand that they may be unlikely to convert to an MQL or SQL for you.

How can you set marketing qualified lead criteria?

You must develop an MQL definition for your business based on your specific marketing goals, product, and audience. Follow these steps to set your MQL criteria.

Align your sales and marketing teams

Establish close collaboration between marketing, sales, and other stakeholders early on to ensure everyone is working towards the same outcomes.

The monday sales CRM is the perfect software for easy cross-team communication, so everyone’s on the same page about sales goals.

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Clarify your marketing qualified lead definition

Create a rock-solid definition of what makes someone MQL-ready. Ask questions like:

  • What are their behaviors before they’re marketing qualified?
  • What are their behaviors after they’re marketing qualified?
  • What actions indicate marketing qualification?

Mapping out your marketing funnel may clarify the stages and criteria.

Select your metrics

Lead scoring rules can determine when a lead becomes an MQL and the point at which sales can take over. Construct criteria that qualify marketing leads according to their actions on your website or during marketing campaigns.

These metrics will help you decide when they’re ready to be passed onto sales, such as:

  • minimum time spent on a web page
  • number of downloads
  • marketing emails opened

Develop a lead scoring system so you know how many points each activity is worth and your scoring threshold (the number of points where a lead becomes marketing qualified.) Remember to set rules for points decay if your MQL loses interest in your offering.

Track all the above metrics and more using the monday sales CRM to give you a fantastic overview of your sales pipeline and individual lead status.

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Refine your lead process

Evaluate the marketing and sales processes regularly to ensure you identify marketing qualified leads efficiently. As your marketing campaigns change, you’ll also need to update your definition of marketing qualified leads.

How do you measure MQL to SQL conversions?

Use this simple math formula to track your marketing qualified lead to sales qualified lead conversions.

MQL / SQL = Total Number of Leads Converted into Sales Opportunities / Total Number of Leads Generated

Example: if you have 1,000 marketing leads, and 250 of them respond to your sales outreach, then your MQL/SQL rate is 250/1000 or 25%.

Compare your conversation rate to the benchmark standard of 13%. Websites and referrals from customers or employees typically have a much higher conversion rate, according to Salesforce data.

Track your marketing qualified leads with monday sales CRM

The monday sales CRM is fully customizable and equipped with all the features you need to track and act on your lead data.

Lead scoring rules: set up customizable scoring parameters using your predetermined MQL formula. Assign points to your leads depending on their marketing activities.

Screenshot of monday,.com's customizable parameters to score MQL marketing qualified leads.

Automations: set up triggers to receive a notification when your leads hit your MQL threshold and progresses through the sales funnel.

Screenshot of's automations to change the status of MQL (marketing qualified leads.)

Lead management template: track new, qualified, or unqualified leads and gain an instant snapshot of your pipeline. Display leads according to industry, company size, or won & lost groups, and adjust the view using board types like Gantt or Kanban as you prefer.


Try the lead management template


How do you calculate marketing qualified leads?

Individual businesses choose their criteria for marketing qualified leads. Usually, they base this on a combination of marketing and sales goals, plus customer behaviors. Use lead scoring rules as a framework to track your MQLs.

What should your sales team do with marketing qualified leads?

The marketing team continues to nurture the MQL by providing targeted marketed content such as emails, how-to guides, and social media content. When marketing qualified leads reach a set lead score, the sales team can take over and start reaching out to gauge sales readiness before converting them into customers.

How do you generate marketing qualified leads?

Generating marketing qualified leads requires an ongoing marketing strategy. You need to identify customer pain points, provide content that resonates with them, and track marketing activities and engagement to see what works and what doesn’t.

Build and track a winning MQL strategy with

45% of sales leaders want to exceed their sales targets and quotas, so reaching out to warm MQLs will contribute to this goal.

Use the monday sales CRM to align your marketing and sales teams; keep open lines of communication with a clear goal of only passing on the most promising lead data to your sales teams. Start creating and tracking your MQL campaigns today.

More terms from our CRM glossary: Warm leads, Hot leads, Raw leads

Rebecca Noori is an experienced freelance writer who specializes in writing and refreshing long-form blog content for B2B SaaS companies. When she's not writing, you'll find her knee-deep in phonics homework and football kits, looking after her three kids!
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