Marketing | 6 Min Read

MQL vs. SQL: How to Identify and Score High-Quality Leads

In the world of business, leads are the goal for most efforts to get customers converting. MQL and SQL can be used by businesses to create a better experience for their customers which helps to get conversions more efficiently.

Joshua Todd
Joshua Todd | December 12, 2022
MQL vs. SQL: How to Identify and Score High-Quality Leads

In the world of business, leads are the goal for most efforts to get customers converting. A lead refers to a person who shows interest in your product or service in some type of way. One of the most common ways that businesses get leads is through information collection.

This can be a form they fill out, the information given to a salesperson, or simply entering their email address for more information. There are two main types of leads that businesses use: Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL) and Sales Qualified Leads (SQL).

Today, we are going to look at each to give you a better idea of what they are and how they can be used to help your business.

What is a marketing qualified lead?

A marketing qualified lead is a prospect that has the potential to turn into a customer but is not ready to purchase yet. This prospect is sourced by the marketing team and is usually found through lead intelligence and other marketing efforts.

When the marketing team deems this prospect as an MQL, additional marketing is usually needed to get the customer to eventually convert. This may be through remarketing, ad-hoc emails, or other marketing strategies geared toward leading a prospect down the sales funnel.

Examples of MQLs

To give you a better understanding of what MQLs, we have listed a few out below:

  • Downloading A Free Trial
  • Downloading A Free EBook
  • Signing Up For Software Demos
  • Filling Out Forms On Your Site
  • Joining An Email or Newsletter List
  • Adding Item To A Wishlist
  • Adding Item To A Shopping Cart
  • Repeated Visits To Your Site
  • Long Session Time On-Site
  • Interacting With Your Ads
  • Contacting For More Information

What is a sales qualified lead?

A sales qualified lead is a prospect who marketing and sales agree is ready to make a purchase. This lead has expressed enough interest in the product or service for the sales team to make a call to try to complete the sale. Since every business is different, the criteria needed to qualify a lead for sales is going to differ depending on what niche you are in.

The most important factor regarding sales qualified leads is that your marketing and sales team accurately define and agree upon what a sales qualified lead is. This will help both teams work in harmony to help leads turn into customers more efficiently.

Examples of SQLs

When it comes to examples of SQLs, this will usually differ from business to business.

Most SQLs will have already been properly marketed to and be inquiring about more details that would hint at them wanting to make a purchase. This could be visiting content regarding the differences between two similar products, calling to find out why one may cost more than the other, and any other action that shows interest in making a purchase at that time.

SQLs are usually calling in to talk to sales team members as they want to get any last questions they may have answered. This is when the sales team needs to deliver all of the information the customer needs to make an informed purchasing decision at that time.

What is the difference?

The difference between MQL and SQL can be a little blurry, depending on what type of business you are in. As previously stated, your marketing team and sales team need to work as closely as possible to define the differences of when a MQL becomes an SQL.

Since an MQL will require more marketing, the marketing team will hold onto this lead until they show enough interest to become an SQL. This is where the lead will be handed off to the sales team to help close the sale.

Lead scoring

Lead scoring is the process of adding attributes and behaviors to leads to score them for business decisions.

This can help your business prioritize and defiance leads as MQL or SQL based on their lead score.

Lead scoring does take a lot of time and maintenance, so many businesses will need to consider the time vs value that goes into lead scoring. If this is something that works well for your business, it can provide great value and make streamlining your lead process much easier.

How to score your leads

To accurately score your leads, you will need to assign point values, create buyer personas, and determine which data points you want to score.

Once you have your buyer personas and data points, you can assign corresponding values to each point to create scores that will help you prioritize leads and define who is an MQL or SQL.

This will help create your own points system that marketing and sales can use to track customer behavior and the likelihood of conversion based on different behaviors.

What behaviors go towards the score

When scoring your leads, you will need to look closely at the behavior as this is going to give you your best indication of whether or not the lead is ready to convert. While this will differ from company to company, most will follow the same basic principles.


These behaviors include:

  • Email Interaction
  • Email/Newsletter Subscription
  • Web Page Visits
  • Requests For A Free Trial
  • Form Submissions
  • Content Download
  • Social Media Engagement
  • Other On-Site Registration

These behaviors can be used to show a customer path as well, helping you build a better strategy and website.

Pay attention to how customers are navigating through your funnel and making a purchase. This will give you great insight into how you can get more conversions more efficiently.

MQL/SQL and The Customer Life Cycle

The MQL and SQL play an important role in the customer life cycle. Let’s take a closer look at how a customer moves through the life cycle and how MQL and SQL play their role.


Subscriber: A contact becomes considered a subscriber after enrolling in a blog or some type of resource subscription. This gets them into the funnel and tells you that they are interested in your service or product.

Lead: A contact becomes a lead after they have completed a non-decision stage form on your site, but has not provided contact information.

MQL: They are considered an MQL once they have completed the requirements above or have completed a decision stage form on your site. This will usually be a buyer’s guide or other information providing form that is not a demo of your product.

SQL: They are considered an SQL once they have completed a decision stage demo form on your site or a sales rep has manually entered their information.

Opportunity: At the opportunity phase, a rep will have collected all of the required information to make the contact and opportunity.

Customer: A contact becomes a customer once the rep has closed the opportunity. This only happens once the rep has initiated the onboarding process.


In conclusion, MQL and SQL can be used by businesses to create a better experience for their customers which helps to get conversions more efficiently.

By having Marketing and Sales work closely together to analyze where a lead is in the customer journey, the necessary actions can be taken to complete the sale.

Continuing to optimize this process will only make your business more efficient and create a better workflow for submitting leads to each department.

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