MarketingWhat are Marketing Qualified Leads and how to use them

What are Marketing Qualified Leads and how to use them

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore marketing qualified leads (MQL) and explain how to get started with this type of high-converting lead to help you generate more sales, and how to use them effectively.

The Power of Marketing Qualified Leads

The world of marketing is full of various terms. While dismissing them as unnecessary complications might be tempting, understanding the difference between a marketing-qualified lead and a sales-qualified lead can significantly impact your business’s success.

A marketing-qualified lead (MQL) is a prospective customer who has shown interest in your products or services and meets specific criteria your marketing team sets.

These leads have a higher chance of becoming a customer, unlike others. By focusing on MQLs, you can save time and resources. Ultimately, you will generate more loyal customers.

The MQL Journey: From Lead to Customer

Before diving into how to use MQLs, let’s explore the journey from initial interest to becoming a customer.

  • Lead Generation: Your marketing efforts attract potential leads through various channels, such as web pages, social media, and email campaigns.
  • Lead Scoring: Using demographic data, behavioural information, and interactions with your marketing assets, your marketing team assigns point values to each lead.
  • MQL Stage: Leads with scores above a predetermined threshold are considered MQLs and are ready for the next stage of the buyer’s journey.
  • Sales Accepted Lead (SAL): The sales team reviews the MQLs and determines if they meet the criteria to become a sales-qualified lead (SQL).
  • Sales Qualified Lead (SQL): Once a lead is deemed an SQL, it moves into the sales funnel, where a sales representative can follow up and attempt to close the deal.

Now that we understand the journey, let’s dive into actionable steps you can take to make the most of MQLs.

How to Use Marketing-Qualified Leads Effectively

To harness the power of MQLs and drive more sales, follow these steps:

Define Your Buyer Personas

Comprehending your target audience is vital in generating a successful marketing tactic. Develop buyer personas – fictional, generalised representations of your ideal customers – to help guide your marketing and sales teams.

Consider job title, location, industry, and age when creating your personas.

Establish Your MQL Criteria

Work with your marketing and sales teams to determine the criteria that make a lead a marketing-qualified lead.

These criteria can include specific actions, such as downloading a whitepaper, attending a webinar, or visiting certain web pages. Additionally, consider demographic data and company size as part of your MQL criteria.

Develop a Lead Scoring System

Assign point values to each of the qualified lead actions and demographic data points identified in the previous step.

Leads with scores above a predetermined threshold will be considered MQLs. Be sure to review and adjust your scoring system periodically to ensure it continues to generate high-quality leads.

Nurture Your MQLs

Nurturing your MQLs is crucial to guide them through the buyer’s journey and convert them into loyal customers.

Develop targeted content and marketing campaigns tailored to their needs and interests. Use a mix of email marketing, social media, and personalised web experiences to engage MQLs and address their pain points.

Facilitate Smooth Handover to Sales Teams

Establish a process for handing over MQLs to the sales team once they meet the criteria to become SQLs.

This can involve setting up automated notifications and sharing lead information through a CRM system. Ensure your sales team is well-prepared to follow up with MQLs, armed with relevant information to make a compelling sales pitch.

Monitor and Refine Your MQL Strategy

Continuously track and analyse the performance of your MQL strategy. Monitor key metrics such as lead-to-customer ratios, conversion rates, and the average time it takes for a lead to move through the sales funnel.

Use this data to refine your MQL criteria, lead scoring system, and nurturing efforts, ensuring your marketing and sales teams focus on the highest quality leads.


What is the difference between a marketing-qualified lead (MQL) and a sales-qualified lead (SQL)?

An MQL is a prospective customer who has shown interest in your brand and meets specific criteria your marketing team sets.

However, an SQL is an MQL that has been looked at and accepted by the sales team as being able to help make a purchase decision. The main difference is that MQLs are nurtured by the marketing team, while SQLs are pursued by the sales team.

How do I know if my MQL criteria and lead scoring system are effective?

The best way to determine the effectiveness of your MQL criteria and lead scoring system is to track key performance metrics.

Monitor conversion rates, lead-to-customer ratios, and the time it takes for leads to progress through the sales funnel. If you notice room for improvement, adjust your criteria and scoring system to better identify high-quality leads.

Can MQLs be used for B2B and B2C businesses?

MQLs can be used for both B2B and B2C businesses. The main difference between the two lies in the specific criteria used to identify MQLs, and the buyer journeys and sales processes involved.

However, the fundamental concept of focusing on high-quality leads to drive more sales remains the same for both types of businesses.


You can significantly improve your marketing efforts and generate more leads by understanding what sales-qualified leads are and how to use them effectively. Ultimately you will drive more sales. 

With a well-defined MQL strategy, you can better align your marketing and sales teams, focus on the highest quality leads, and grow your customer base.

So, what are you waiting for? Start using the power of MQLs today, and watch your business thrive!

Written by

Anna Thornhill
Anna Thornhill
Anna Thornhill is one of our expert writers. Anna is our specialist editor covering business growth and marketing and makes it her mission to provide small business owners with practical guides that help you step-by-step to grow your business. Anna’s an experienced sales and marketing professional who moved to writing and editorial and helps startups and small business owners with practical advice in growing their business with the latest sales and marketing techniques plus guides to choosing and using sales and marketing technology.

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