Managing leads (MQL and SQL)

Lead Scoring and Lead Grading

Scoring: How much interest the lead has shown in your offering. Score increases the more activities, for example by consuming content that signal buying intent.

Grading: How interesting the lead is for you based on their attributes. Often discrete criteria such as job role, industry, seniority and whether the company they belong to is already a customer or not.

Based on this, you get four quadrants described here:

  • A: Not interested, not interesting: Ignore
  • B: Interested, not interesting: Nurture (they are valuable for marketing, branding and PR purposes but not for sales purposes)
  • C: Not interested, interesting: Nurture (they are potential sales opportunities but not yet ready to buy)
  • D: Interested, interesting: Contact

When they are interested and interesting, they become a MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead). Then they are passed over to sales, who does manual follow up (research, personal email, call) and checks if there is a potential business opportunity. If so, the lead becomes an SQL (Sales Qualified Lead) and you create an opportunity.

Standard process for managing new leads

  1. New lead comes in.
  2. Someone responsible for checking all new leads and adding info to them and adding them to existing customers etc. if those exist.
  3. Grading and scoring criteria sets the lead to MQL.
  4. MQLs show up in the left side of the SharpSpring pipeline, where sales is responsible for manually checking and following up with personal communication to turn them into an opportunity.
  5. If there is a business opportunity (based on internal criteria you define in your own sales team), they are an SQL and you create an Opportunity in the system for follow up and assign it to the sales person who should follow up.
  6. Sales manager uses various reports to follow up on the lead-to-sales process:
    • Pipeline Value: Monthly, in sales meetings, to go through the overall sales forecast for the period and what stages various deals are in.
    • Sales Performance: Monthly, in sales meetings, to see what's been closed per month by which rep/team and what's forecasted by month.
    • Opportunity Health: Monthly, in sales meetings, to check if there are problems with opportunities that need to be addressed (no follow up, stalled, etc.)
    • Conversion Analysis: Quarterly, to check how well new leads are converting and if the process can be improved, and also to compare different reps and teams to see if then can learn from each other and if the pipeline % can be adjusted to give more accurate forecasts.

Two methods of following up on new mql

Method A: Have a dedicated role responsible for following up on all new leads

Recommended if you have a lot of leads, which warrants a dedicated Inbound Sales role. This role is responsible for quickly and efficiently checking new leads, populating them with information so that they can be graded accurately, following up on all MQLs on the left side of SharpSpring (keep that left side empty at all times!), creating opportunities from MQLs that have been sales qualified, and finally assigning opportunities to sales people and helping them drive these opportunities.

Measurement metric: How many opportunities have been created from new leads that convert to sales?

Method B: Sales people pick interesting new leads from the MQL list

Someone in marketing is responsible for populating all new leads with info so that they can be graded accurately. Sales, in turn, are responsible for ensuring that all new MQLs are followed up on if they are potential opportunities.

The system is set up so that MQLs stay on the left side for a week. If nobody picked a new MQL up within that timeframe, the MQL is assumed to be not interesting for sales, and is sent back for further nurturing.

The sales manager measures the sales people on whether they have picked up new leads and converted them to opportunities and business.

Marketing gets "unpicked" MQLs into a special list so that they can evaluate and improve their grading and scoring criteria.