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Sales Enablement

Sales Enablement: The Difference Between Leads and Qualified Leads

Luke Marthinusen | November 11 2019

A lead is anyone who has interacted with your company. They may or may not become a customer. 

A qualified lead is anyone who has gone through qualifying criteria to assess their quality as a lead, their fit as a customer, and their readiness to buy.

Based on their demographics and tracked behaviour, leads can be categorised. Categorising leads makes them easier to sort and work with. 

Leads ultimately become opportunities, and convert to customers. Customers that sing your praises are called Evangelists. Collectively these all make up the Lifecycle Stages for your company.

qualified leads - lifecycle stagesBut back to leads. Categorising leads allows the sales team to focus on the more qualified leads, so they can be more efficient with their time and can make more sales.

The different types of qualified leads

Qualified leads can be further categorised into Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) and Sales Qualified leads (SQLs).

Some companies take it further, and introduce more stages. Some of these are outlined by Square2Marketing as Sales-Ready Leads, Sales-Opportunities and Sales Agreements.

The use of these labels is dependent on the company, but at MO Agency, we use leads, MQLS and SQLs. This is our qualifying criteria:

Lead: Anyone who has interacted with our company (Call-in, website lead, networking, events)

Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs): A lead that by virtue of their position, company, or tracked actions have taken on our website and/or email communication looks like a good prospect for sales outreach.

Sales Qualified leads (SQLs): A lead that a salesperson has spoken to and is confirmed as sales ready.


The above graphic outlines how a marketing and sales funnel is structured. Once a lead completes certain actions, they move down the funnel and become Marketing or Sales Qualified Leads.

Leads near the top of the funnel needing a lot of nurturing to close. Sharing information, emails, sales meetings all fit the bill here.

Leads near the bottom of the funnel are close to conversions and require a different set of actions to nurture to close.

Why should you define different leads

Going through the exercise of categorising leads can seem like an arduous process, but defining what qualifies different leads is crucial to both your marketing strategy and your sales strategy.

While a sales person is well-equipped to know when a lead is more likely to close, which they seem to know almost intuitively, the marketing team may not know what to look for.

By defining the different stages of lead qualification, the marketing team is better able to understand what makes a lead qualified or not, and can then produce content that will encourage behaviour that marks them as Marketing Qualified.

These Marketing Qualified Leads get sent to the sales team who qualify them as sales-qualified and, hey presto, the sales team is able to sell more by focusing on the qualified leads.

Final thoughts

A well defined sales funnel is the key to generating better qualified leads, and is the first step for a better sales enablement strategy.

You can find out more about how we qualified our leads and used our sales funnel in our ebook on Sales Enablement. Click on the button below to get your copy.

How to build a modern sales strategy in 7 steps

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