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An important way to grow a business is through the generation of new leads. Therefore, it comes as no shock that sales individuals are on the hunt to find, gather, and reserve as many leads as possible.

A lead is an individual or organization that displays interest in what you or your company are selling. A potential lead’s interest can be gauged through their engagement. Potential customers may engage by browsing your products or services, asking for more information, or signing up for a mailing list.

Determining which points to pursue can be highly beneficial for your company and its growth. Generally, there are two types: a marketing qualified lead and a sales qualified lead.

What Is a Marketing Qualified Lead?

Individual signing up for newsletter on tablet.

A marketing qualified lead (MQL) is a person who has shown interest in what a company has to offer. As a result of marketing and advertising campaigns, MQL has voluntarily and intentionally engaged with your service or product. For example, an MQL can engage by signing up for a newsletter, providing contact information, adding items to a cart, or completing a demo. Based on the MQL’s engagement, they can be considered promising contacts because they have taken a step to engage with your products or services. As a result, MQLs might be more receptive to sales pitches.

What Is a Sales Qualified Lead?

A sales-qualified lead is a prospect who has been researched by the marketing team and deemed to have a high probability of becoming a customer. An SQL is characterized as ready to buy from your company, or they are looking for more detailed information. These types of leads may have already participated in a demo or free trial and can be converted to customers.

What Is the Main Difference Between MQL And SQL?

Individual using credit card to make purchase on cellphone.

The primary difference between an MQL and an SQL is the customer’s readiness to make a purchase. MQL’s are contacts who have engaged with the product or service. On the other hand, SQL’s have been researched and transferred to the sales team because they want more detailed information. An SQL may be more likely to make a purchase.

For example, consider you are shopping for a new pair of shoes. You may window-shop or browse a few stores for options. At this point, you would be a marketing qualified lead. However, asking a sales representative for a particular size and trying the shoes on qualifies you as an SQL. Additionally, if you ask for promotions or sales offers, you may be considered a more qualified SQL.

How Do You Move an MQL to an SQL?

The research significantly contributes to converting an MQL to an SQL. For example, by researching an MQL’s background and demographics, a sales team can better determine how likely they may be to make a purchase. Additionally, understanding lead behavior and how to correspondingly score positive engagement can help forecast purchase probability.

Lead Score

Lead scoring is a tool used by marketing and sales teams to rank contacts based on their sales-readiness. Leads are given scores based on how much interest they show in the company, how much they engage, their current standing in the buying cycle, and their fit for the company. A higher rank or score can translate to a higher probability of converting the lead to a consumer.

This process is vital in helping the sales and marketing teams prioritize what is gathered. It pushes the sales team to respond to higher-ranking leads appropriately and on time to improve the speed at which they convert to customers. It saves salespeople time and effort by giving them a pipeline of potential sales-ready leads. Lead scoring can help to combine the efforts of the sales and marketing teams to facilitate a faster and smoother conversion process. 

Lead Behavior

Couple having a demo meeting with sales representative.

In a company, sales and marketing teams collaborate to determine what type of behavior qualifies a candidate to progress to the sales process. Initially, you will have to decide what the perfect lead resembles.

The behaviors that are usually considered positive are:

  • Scheduling a meeting
  • Getting involved in a demo
  • Replying to an email

This is where you can also assign score values to the way your leads behave. For instance, a potential client who has booked a meeting may receive higher points than someone who replied to an email. Similarly, those providing personal information can score more highly as it supplies the marketing team with valuable data that can be used to cater offers and deals.

The scoring process can also include a lack of engagement. For example, if an interested party is no longer opening promotional emails, that may indicate they have stopped engaging with the company. Just as positive engagement with the company can increase a lead’s score, a lack of engagement can decrease their score.

Probability To Buy

By researching clients and understanding their engagement behavior, marketing and sales teams can gain insight into what offers or deals may increase the customer’s probability of purchasing.

Moreover, lead scoring can direct sales members to focus on SQLs who positively engage and who may be highly likely to purchase a product or service.

For it to grow into an SQL, they must show demand for your product or service — indicating a probability to buy.

Lead scoring is a viable method to realize a customer’s probability to buy. For instance, if they are scoring high on the board, they may be highly interested in the product or service you are offering. Moreover, you can use the information they provided, such as name and job field, to determine their needs and capabilities further. Thus, scoring and behavior work together to predict the probability of purchase.

How To Incorporate Marketing Leads Into Sales Leads?

When the marketing team pushes a potential client to the sales team, it is time to work and nurture those leads to close as many deals as possible.

The sales team must be alert regarding what a prospect has viewed and shown interest in. While addressing sales-qualified leads, the salesperson can utilize the information gathered during MQL research to cater offers and deals that are specific to SQL’s needs.

Quality vs. Quantity

Group sales meeting.

Rushing after leads may not get you the highest quality of traffic. MQL research can provide valuable information regarding background and demographics. Similarly, MQL behavior and scoring can supply insight into the types of products and advertising a lead is engaging most with. As a result, marketing and sales teams can cater offers and deals that may be more appealing. All these factors contribute to producing a quality SQL that is more likely to convert into a consumer.

Targeting quality leads can result in a higher return on investment (ROI). It largely improves the possibilities of converting them to actual sales and increasing revenue. Focusing on quality can ensure that only SQLs with a high likelihood of conversion will be pursued, rather than a larger quantity that may not show much interest.

Quality leads are also more likely to build loyalty, especially when the salesperson approaches the contact in a more personable manner.

Quality and quantity points are metrics that are important for a strong lead generation campaign, but you will have to find a balance between the two.

When it comes to successful lead generation, there is always room for growth. So keep testing, executing new strategies, tracking the performance of the ads, assessing old ones, and evolving your plans to maximize knowledge and ROI.

Why Are Marketing Qualified Leads Important?

Sales qualified leads are typically considered more valuable because they are more apt to convert to revenue-yielding customers. However, what may be interesting is that marketing qualified leads may not result in just one conversion. Some MQLs may even buy one or two of your products because of their connection with your company.

Also, marketing qualified leads can be researched by the sales team. The data from these leads can help you train your marketing models to target better customers. MQLs provide valuable intel on potential customers that can be utilized by the sales team for further conversion and sales.


Marketing qualified leads are individuals who actively engage and show interest in your product or service. Through research and further nurturing, MQLs may be converted to sales-qualified leads. SQLs are individuals who seek out more detailed information about the service or product. As a result, SQLs have a high potential of becoming return consumers of the company.

Often marketing qualified leads will not convert into a consumer or will only buy one item. Conversely, sales-qualified leads are the individuals who are highly likely to become return customers. This is where the company will have to nurture them — by carefully regimented follow-up tactics and aligning sales strategies — to generate more sales.

Published by Owen Carter on November 18, 2021

Owen Carter

Owen Carter

Owen is a marketing specialist. He works with advertisers and publishers directly, enhancing their marketing campaigns. Owen understands the importance of having the right tools for the job. He got his start designing and implementing a proprietary platform at a major performance marketing organization. During his free time, Owen enjoys rereading company emails and looking for mistakes.

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