Sales Qualified Lead Defined [& Tips on How to Find and Convert SQLs]

As far as lead generation goes, quality is almost always more important than quantity. You want Sales Qualified Leads that will improve your overall chance of success.

Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) Defined [& Tips on How to Find and Convert SQLs]

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In sales, some may believe that all opportunities are worth your time. 

However, time is money. Therefore, this is not always the case.

While you can use your resources to market to virtually anyone, the truth of the matter is that you don’t want to market to individuals who are unlikely to convert. 

Otherwise, your bottom line will suffer from wasted resources and lack of conversion.

This is where Sales Qualified Leads come into play. These leads can then be used in your lead conversion process, which should focus on nurturing tactics to convert those leads.

So, what exactly are Sales Qualified Leads, and why are SQLs important for your brand? 

Learn the answers to these questions, as well as how to find and convert SQLs for your company below.

    What is a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)?

    A Sales Qualified Lead, or SQL, is a prospective customer that expresses interest in purchasing a product or service that your company offers.

    Further, this customer has met pre-established criteria that have been set forth by the marketing and sales teams.

    A SQL has a high potential to convert to a paying customer, as they have shown a serious intent to buy.

    Basically, your marketing team will vet potential customers to determine if they fit the bill to move down the funnel to the sales team.

    If someone is deemed a sales-qualified lead, they will be considered a high priority.

    Why Do Sales Qualified Leads Matter?

    One of the main reasons that Sales Qualified Leads are so important to your company is because you will waste time and money on people who may not necessarily be ready to make a purchase.

    With SQLs, your marketing team has nurtured them, and they are more than likely ready to make a purchase and speak with a member of your sales team.

    If you fail to qualify SQLs properly, there is a significant risk of your sales team working with individuals who are not ready to speak to them, much less make an actual purchase.

    Further, Sales Qualified Leads can provide insights into what is and isn’t working in terms of marketing efforts. 

    Tracking SQLs can let you know what is bringing them in and how likely they are to end up converting. It can also show how often your sales team is closing SQLs.

    Finally, getting consistent leads can help your brand market and sell more efficiently. You can learn how to better tailor your messaging to prospective leads based on their interest.

    How are SQLs Qualified?

    The exact qualifications for a SQL will vary from one company to the next, depending on its size, industry, and offerings. 

    However, as a general rule, a sales qualified lead will have:

    • A need for your specific offerings.
    • Expressed previous interest in your company and/or its offerings.
    • The budget to purchase your offerings.

    While there is never a guarantee that a SQL will complete a purchase, they are the highest-ranking lead that your sales team will encounter. 

    With that being said, properly qualified SQLs have higher odds of converting than other types of leads.

    How to Qualify Leads in Sales

    The BANT system is a popular method that companies follow to qualify their leads. Here is a brief overview of the process.

    1. Budget

    Someone can be head over heels in love with your product or service, but if they lack the financial resources to make a purchase, they aren’t a qualified lead for you.

    Therefore, it is imperative for your team to weed out the prospects who simply can’t afford your offering. 

    This can be done in many ways, but it is often carried out by simply asking prospects how comfortable they are with your price point.

    When it comes to budget, you are looking at how much a customer has to spend and how much they’re willing to spend. This data will help you shorten the sales cycle and boost conversions.

    2. Authority

    It’s fantastic news when you get yourself a quality SQL, but it is less fantastic when the person you have shared half your life story with isn’t even approved to make buying decisions.

    Therefore, in order to qualify leads in sales, you must be speaking to a person who has buying power or at least someone with high authority and can influence the main decision-maker.

    3. Need

    There is no reason to market to prospects who don’t have a need for your offerings. 

    If they’re a bad fit for your company, you are wasting time and money by trying to convert them when the chance of this occurring is unlikely.

    To ensure your team isn’t wasting resources or making the process more difficult than it needs to be, it is crucial to determine whether potential customers have a need for your product or service.

    When you focus on customers that fit with your company, which means you can address a problem they need solving, there is a higher chance that you’ll convert and retain them.

    4. Time

    It isn’t uncommon to come across a number of prospects who are unable to close a sale at this particular time in their lives. 

    There are many reasons for this, including not having the proper funding yet.

    Before moving a prospect down the line, it is important to determine their timeline to purchase. Otherwise, your sales team may waste time and effort trying to close a sale with a prospect that isn’t ready for one reason or another.

    Ideally, you will want to work with prospects who can and are willing to purchase within the next three to six months. 

    If urgency is lacking, then there is likely no immediate need for your offerings.

    How to Find and Convert Sales Qualified Leads

    When it comes to SQLs, you want to focus more on the quality of the lead than the number of leads coming in. 

    Your goal is to shorten the sales cycle overall and produce high-quality leads that will convert.

    1. Establish Buyer Personas

    To help ensure your marketing and sales team are familiar with what a sales-ready lead is, establish specific buyer personas.

    By knowing exactly who your ideal customer is, it will be easier to target and sell to the most appropriate audience, regardless of the stage of the sales funnel that you’re in.

    As you receive more data and feedback from customers, make sure to revisit your buyer persona profiles and update them.

    2. Make a Qualified Sales Lead List

    Once you have established who your target customer is, it is time to make a list of qualified sales leads. 

    This list should contain individuals who you have already researched, vetted, and want to speak to. These individuals should be highly likely to convert.

    Make sure your list contains all the most important data points, such as direct phone number, email address, and job title.

    By creating a list of quality leads, you will avoid utilizing unhelpful data and wasting money.

    3. Create Content with Purchase Intent in Mind

    Although you should develop content that is specifically relevant to an individual’s current situation, allowing you to resonate with them, you also want to ensure your content production focuses on addressing a prospect’s pain points and intent on purchasing the most appropriate solution to their needs.

    The messaging that you create for prospects who are ready to make a purchase will be different from the messaging you create to lure prospects in.

    For instance, at this stage, you will likely develop a more comprehensive offering of videos, eBooks, webinars, and case studies that provides data to back up the claims you’re making.

    4. Locate Unsatisfied Customers of Competitors

    One of the best places to find new leads for your brand is by checking out your competitors. 

    You are looking for people who are unhappy with your competitor, allowing you to sweep in and lure them over to your side.

    Social media is a great place to start, as well as Google reviews and other online review sites. 

    Find people who have left negative feedback. You can then reach out to them to offer a free trial or demo with your company.

    You may also be interested in these articles:

    Wrap Up

    By using the BANT framework and defining your overall criteria for Sales Qualified Leads, you will be able to better locate prospects that should be a priority, deliver a more personalized user experience, and close more sales.

    Remember, all leads are not created equally, so it is imperative that your marketing and sales teams work on appropriate messaging and try to convert prospects who are ready to move forward in the sales funnel.

    If you need additional help to gain leads, check out some of our top-of-funnel marketing tactics!


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