Marketing Qualified Leads Vs Sales Qualified Leads: What’s The Difference?

When it comes to sales and marketing, leads play a crucial role in the success of your campaign efforts, as well as of your entire business. A lead refers to an individual or organization showing an interest in what you’re selling. Generating leads is essential to gain more potential customers and more sales.

Lead generation involves attracting and converting prospects to show interest in your products or services through blog posts, live events, job applications, coupons, and other types of online content. It is useful in attaining your lead marketing goals.

In lead marketing, the two important things you have to understand are marketing qualified leads or MQL and sales qualified leads or SQL, both of which will be discussed in detail in this post.

What Are MQL And SQL? 

In a sales funnel, a customer undergoes a step-by-step process to get closer to your products and services. And, identifying your leads is essential to bring more customers to your business in order to gain higher revenues.

It’s relatively simple to understand MQL vs SQL. Marketing qualified leads or MQL pertains to leads that are more likely to become potential customers than other leads because of showing interest in your products or services based on previously visited web pages and other forms of online engagement.

On the other hand, sales qualified leads or SQL refers to leads that your sales team has identified as potential customers. Once an MQL becomes an SQL, it will be easier to convert them into a buying customer.

MQL VS SQL: Readiness to Buy

Marketing qualified leads, or MQL are considered hand-raisers. While they already have taken action to express interest in your product, MQL isn’t necessarily ready to buy yet. However, nurturing this lead can result in a potential sale.

For SQL, there is a readiness to buy. However, the buying decision can be restricted by different factors, such as the level of necessity, product options available, and budget.

MQL Vs SQL: Speed

As compared to an MQL, an SQL has been checked out by your sales team and is considered a genuine prospect. In short, an SQL has been educated and is ready for a conversation, taking the lead to the next level of the sales process. On the other hand, in the MQL process, it takes some time before a prospect is successfully encouraged to engage in sales. However, when your sales team intervenes, then the sales process tends to speed up.

MQL Vs SQL: Buyer Journey

Moving down the sales funnel, an SQL is further along when it comes to the buyer journey. An SQL has specific questions and is prepared for an in-depth answer and question portion with your sales department. Gaining SQLs could be the outcome of nurtured marketing, while some by their own will.

What does it mean for your business?  While businesses have different parameters in terms of determining whether a lead is an MQL or an SQL, it’s important to identify yours. Some of your sales team members might consider a simple inquiry as MQL, while there are those who perceive it as SQL. By determining the differences between the two or setting qualifiers, you avoid creating a disconnection between marketing and sales.

MQL VS SQL: Intent 

Intent matters because sending all leads to sales will make your life harder. There are leads who just want to try your products without necessarily making a purchase, and even possible competitors who are trying to steal your sales and marketing strategies.

The quality of a lead is very important, so you have to validate each lead’s intent. How can you do it?

Here are some tips and tricks to analyze the quality of a lead:

  • Send a follow-up email to determine if the lead is really contemplating on buying your product
  • Analyze the interests and actions of the prospect or their “digital body language”
  • Directly ask the lead if they are willing to buy your product anytime soon or some time in the future. Only high-interest and very specific activities trigger a lead to become an MQL, such as free trials, demos, or detailed buying guides. When your sales team has followed up with an MQL and has found it to be high quality, it becomes an SQL.


Marketing qualified leads or MQL and sales qualified leads or SQL have a lot of differences in terms of readiness of the lead to make a purchase and buyer journey. An MQL might need some more time to be convinced to buy a product, but can be nurtured to become an SQL and, finally, a buying customer. Furthermore, identifying the differences between the two allows you to make better sales and marketing decisions, helping you gain more customers and greater profits.

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