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Sales qualified leads (SQL) — what you need to know

Michelle Deery 7 min read
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Research shows sales reps need to average 8-10 meaningful conversations per day to fulfill their monthly targets. That means between calls, emails, prospecting, meetings, and more — your sales reps have a lot on their plate.

At the same time, there’s room for improvement: the average sales rep win rate is only 38% — with top performers converting slightly higher at 48%.

This is why you need to think carefully about how your salespeople should spend their time — because the more effective they are, the faster you’ll grow your business.

You don’t want your salespeople to treat every lead the same because that would result in fewer sales. Instead, you want them to prioritize sales qualified leads (SQL).

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What is a sales qualified lead (SQL)?

Sales qualified leads (SQLs) are users that the sales team has deemed to have a high chance of buying what your company sells.

It works like this: once your sales team receives a list of Marketing Qualified Leads, they gain a ​​thorough understanding of their needs by looking at commonalities like demographic traits, budget, company size, etc.

The more criteria a lead meets, the more likely they are to convert and therefore deemed worth pursuing. Then, your sales team considers them a sales qualified lead (SQL).

If a lead does not meet those requirements, they are considered non-SQLs and won’t be used.

Why are sales qualified leads (SQLs) important?

Qualifying leads allows salespeople to focus their attention on prospects that are likely to buy — resulting in a shortened sales cycle and saved resources.

Think of it like this: imagine a world in which the only people your sales reps speak to are searching for a product just like yours, know their budget, and have the decision makers’ approval. Your sales rep can close the deal quickly and move on to their next lead.

In contrast, imagine your salespeople have a list of random people to contact daily, who not only haven’t heard about your product — but don’t think they have a problem to solve. Your sales rep spends their time convincing them they need your solution. The conversation is boring for the prospect and they remain unconvinced.

That’s the benefit of having SQLs over non-SQLs. Ultimately, they allow you to qualify prospects that are much further along the sales funnel and avoid low-value leads.


Leads can be divided into three categories based on where they are in the sales funnel:

  • Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) are leads generated by the marketing team that meet the criteria for being passed on to the sales team.
  • Sales Accepted Leads (SALs) are MQLs that have been evaluated and accepted by the sales team.
  • Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) are SALs that the sales team has deemed to be the most likely to convert into paying customers based on the company’s lead scoring system.

How to qualify a sales lead with 4 criteria

Most companies that use lead scoring to qualify SQLs have a system in place. One popular sales qualification method used is the BANT framework. The BANT framework was developed by IBM in the 1950s to help their sales reps qualify leads. It was extremely successful and is still used today.

It’s based on the following four criteria:

  1. Budget
  2. Buying authority
  3. Need
  4. Timeline

Let’s look into each of these in more detail.

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First things first: Can a lead afford your product or service? You don’t want your salespeople to waste time talking to leads that don’t have the budget to make the purchase.

Here are some questions to help qualify your lead’s budget:

  • What’s your budget range?
  • Can you allocate additional resources if needed?


Sometimes, a lead doesn’t have the buying authority to make the purchase decision. This means pitching them your product is a waste of time.

Buying authority within a company isn’t always possible to determine prior to speaking with a lead — since job titles don’t always describe a role clearly and accurately.

That’s why you should train your salespeople to determine whether the lead has the buying authority at the beginning of the sales conversation.

If it turns out that they aren’t the right person to talk to, the salesperson should aim to find who the decision maker is and what’s the best way to get in touch with them.

Here are some questions to help qualify your lead’s overall authority in the decision-making process:

  • Who’ll be involved when choosing a solution?
  • How involved are you in the decision-making process?


It’s important to ensure a lead needs your product or service. And the more acute and aware they are of their need, the more they’ll convert.

Likewise, understanding a prospective buyer’s pain points allows your salespeople to talk about the specific features that’ll provide a solution.

This will help a lead determine whether their company has a genuine need for your offering — and increase the likelihood of ​​closing a deal.

Here are some questions to help qualify your lead’s need for your product:

  • What is the challenge your company is facing?
  • What are your goals for this project?


Finally, ensure that leads can follow through with purchasing your product within an acceptable time frame.

This can be an issue in B2B sales with high-ticket products or services, because closing the sale might take three, six, or even twelve months.

That’s because large organizations often have complicated hierarchies, which means the purchase might require the approval of not one but several decision-makers (Authority).

If a lead’s timeline doesn’t fit in your sales model, it can disqualify them from becoming a SQL.

Here are some questions to help qualify your lead’s timeline:

  • How fast do you want to implement the product into your processes?
  • Are you currently in a contract with another vendor?

How to use monday sales CRM to track your sales qualified leads is a customizable Work OS cloud- platform. Its sales CRM allows you to effectively manage your sales qualified leads with features like:

  • Sales pipeline overview: A visual representation of where your prospects are in your sales process.
  • Contact management: Manage, store, organize and track all of your prospects’ contact details in a centralized location.
  • Lead capturing: Create beautiful forms to capture leads that are interested in your product.
  • Lead management: Create a board using the lead management template to separate your leads into groups like “qualified” and “unqualified”.

Sales qualified leads (SQL) — what you need to know

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How can you generate qualified sales leads?

Generate sales qualified leads by analyzing your data, identifying the leads who convert into paying customers and what they have in common. Then, design a marketing strategy based on your insights. This can look like:

  • Technical content that includes features
  • Prospecting in professional networks
  • Personalized email marketing
  • Facebook ads
  • Content upgrades
  • Long-tail SEO

Are sales qualified leads and warm leads the same?

No, they are not the same. A warm lead is a has expressed an interest in your product or service. A sales qualified lead meets your company’s lead scoring criteria for being likely to convert into a paying customer.

More terms are explained in our CRM glossary: Warm leads, Hot leads, Raw leads

Use monday sales CRM to avoid sales qualified lead SQL mismanagement

Sales qualified leads are likely to convert into paying customers. That’s why it’s important to avoid SQL mismanagement — so they don’t fall through the cracks. monday sales CRM can help you ensure that every sales qualified lead gets the attention they deserve with its features like lead management, contact management — allowing you to assign leads to specific sales reps, track your prospects interactions, and more. Get started with monday sales crm software to track your leads today.

Michelle Deery is a content writer and strategist for B2B SaaS companies. She writes content that helps brands convert visitors into paying customers.
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