How to Increase Sales Qualified Leads (SQL)? MQL Vs SQL

Sales qualified leads are the lifeblood of any successful sales team. But how do you find and attract them?

That’s the question most sales reps and sales leaders wonder most often.

You see the success of sales development representatives lies in the number of conversions they drive.

The more conversions, the better the performance of the SDR. To hit the ultimate goal, SDRs need to follow through with the process. The process includes capturing leads, qualifying leads, pitching your product or service, and nurturing them before conversion. 

Gathering leads and reaching out to them is half a step done.

Most leads are often inactive or don’t respond – this hampers the SDR’s performance and affects the Lead Conversion Ratio. To nurture leads and take them into conversion, you need first to qualify them.

Sales Qualified Leads are prospects with strong buying intentions and are likely to benefit most from your product or service. In detail, the article will discuss Sales Qualified Leads and the strategies to produce excellent leads.

In this blog, we are going to discuss what sales qualified leads are, how they differ from sales-accepted leads and marketing-qualified leads, and what are the strategies to increase sales qualified leads for your business.

What are Sales Qualified leads?

What is Sales Qualified Lead?

Sales Qualified Leads are the prospects deemed suitable by the sales reps to take them into the next stage in the sales cycle. These prospects have not only engaged with your content and inquired about your product, but also have the financial means to purchase your product. These prospects fit the criteria and standards (ICP) set by your organization.

Expressing interest in a product or service doesn’t always lead to conversion. Therefore, it is paramount to filter out the leads who have a strong buying intent and can afford your product/service. Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL) become Sales Accepted Leads (SAL) before becoming Sales Qualified Leads (SQL). If a lead has not inquired or engaged with you through platforms where you are marketing your product, they are not likely to convert.

In the next section, we discuss MQL vs. SAL vs. SQL in detail.

MQL vs. SAL vs. SQL

Marketing Qualified Lead

A marketing qualified lead (MQL) is a lead in the early stages of the buying cycle.

An MQL comes through engagement with website content, website pop-ups, and more. Marketers capture leads through social media, web traffic, email marketing, and more. Out of those leads, the leads in the engagement phase, i.e., awareness and desire of the product or service, become marketing-qualified leads.

Sales Accepted Lead

A sales accepted lead is a lead who enquires about your product or service and is keen on learning more about it. The marketing team sends this lead to the sales team who analyses if the business’s solution can solve the lead’s issue, if they are decision-makers, and if they are willing to purchase the solution (product/service).

Sales Qualified Lead

A sales-qualified lead is ready to take action and purchase from you.

Sales Qualified Leads are the potential customers who align with the ideal customer profile and have a strong buying intent. They are likely to benefit most from your product or service. 

But every lead can’t be nurtured and taken into the sales funnel. The marketing team ascertains through their qualification process if a lead is ready to talk to sales representatives. This is how MQLs turn into SALs and Sales Qualified Leads.

Strategies to Qualify Leads for Sales

Capturing leads for your B2B businesses isn’t a hit-and-trial method. It needs you to formulate procedures and strategies to target ideal Sales Qualified Leads. Here are some proven strategies to produce excellent leads:

1. Have a Buyer Persona

The first and foremost step is to create a buyer’s persona, or an ideal customer profile, whom you think will suit your product or service. It allows you to choose prospects most likely to benefit from your product or service.

Creating an ideal customer profile needs research. For example, If you have a B2B business, research factors like industry, company size, niche, etc., to create an ideal customer profile. 

2. Understand your Lead’s Journey

Understanding your buyer’s journey and which part of the journey your customer is at this moment, will help you know whether the lead is ready to be sent to be closed by the sales representative. To qualify for this, your lead should be – 

  • Interested in buying your product
  • Should be a decision-maker
  • Should have the budget to work with you

Knowing your lead helps you understand what motivates them, where they are in their purchase journey, and what will drive them to make their final decision.

3. Lead Capture Form on Your Website

Lead capture forms are a widely used way to get your audience’s contact information. You can ask people to fill up a form to learn more about your product: free eBook, tutorial, cheat sheet – anything that gives your leads real practical help. 

Here are some tips for creating an effective lead capture form:

  • Make sure the form is clear and concise. Visitors should understand what information you are asking for and why you need it.
  • Only ask for the information you need. Don’t ask for more information than you need, as this will only annoy visitors.
  • Make the form mobile-friendly. Visitors should be able to fill out the form from their smartphones or tablets.
  • Track the form’s performance. Use Google Analytics or another analytics tool to track the performance of your lead capture form. This will help you to see how many visitors are filling out the form and how many of them are converting into leads.

4. Lead Magnets in Return for Contact Information

You need your audience’s contact information to nurture leads from MQL to SAL. Offering lead magnets is an excellent way to collect your target audience‘s basic contact details. 

Lead magnets help you filter out prospects who are not in your target audience. This saves time, effort, and money in the long run. They also help you focus on the persona your business is targeting. Thus, building customer trust.

The different examples of lead magnets include:

  • eBook
  • Webinar
  • Informative videos
  • Guides
  • Case studies
  • Bonus packs
  • Free workbooks
  • Newsletters
  • Free software

5. Create an Opt-In Box

An opt-in box is normally displayed on web pages that offer a lead magnet in exchange for a visitor’s contact information. By checking the box the visitor opts in for product information and material to be emailed in exchange for the lead magnet.

Create a lead magnet addressing any major pain point of your target audience and create an ebook, a guide, or a video showing your audience practical steps to solve this pain point.

6. Make the Most of Social Media

Social media is an excellent place to start conversations and build relationships with prospects worldwide, free of cost.

Depending on which platform your leads are present on, know that your leads are there to socialize and build connections just like you. Hence, take note of the platforms your leads are present on and double down on what works best for you.

Use automation tools to answer queries and carry forward conversations with your leads even while you are away.

Sales engagement software like SmartReach.io allows you to automate engagement and outreach with prospects on social platforms like Linkedin. You could create a sequence of tasks for Linkedin like viewing profiles, sending a connection request, sending messages, or sending Inmail. It also lets you add “send a message on WhatsApp” to your campaign. Multichannel outreach helps to increase your reach and also increases the prospect engagement rate.

7. Do Not Spam

Do Not Spam your prospects with emails.

Sending too many emails at a time will frustrate your audience. At the same time, sending emails after too long can lead to losing your prospect’s attention.

You can send a short value-packed email every second day to once a week. At the same time, ensure that every email you send answers at least one pain point of your prospect. This will help build your audience’s trust in your brand.

8. Have a Sales Funnel in Place

Creating a sales funnel means designing a pathway for your target audience, from being aware of your product to becoming customers.

The best way to take your audience from one stage of the funnel to the other is by offering them a webinar, an eBook, 1:1 sessions, etc. When your audience is on one stage of your funnel, the goal is to upsell to them the next stage.

There are usually three stages to a funnel:

  • The top of the funnel: This stage is where you make your target audience aware of your product or service.
  • The middle of the funnel: Next, you grab their attention by addressing their pain points, creating the desire for your product, and engaging with them.
  • The bottom of the funnel: Finally, warm up to your audience and proceed to close them.

Sales reps must take their audience through all the above funnel stages to convert them to customers.

9. Use Lead Scoring to Qualify Leads

Lead scoring is a prioritization model that helps to find qualified leads.

It also helps determine the right time to get in touch with each potential qualified lead by assessing their actions. Under this model, you assign points to different leads based on their actions, like taking a webinar, clicking a link, etc. Using the point system, you can determine where a lead is in the sales cycle.

Leads with more points are better qualified and are likely at the last stage of the sales cycle. Now that you’ve understood how to qualify leads let’s get you more leads by understanding how to generate more sales-qualified leads.

10. LinkedIn Prospecting

Having millions of users, LinkedIn is one of the popular tools for generating Sales Qualified Leads. For example, targeting sales leads of potential prospects by connecting with them on LinkedIn. LinkedIn has two types of users, one who seeks solutions and the other who provides the solution and addresses the audience’s pain points. 

Set filters that adhere to your ideal customer profile and target people suitable for your product or service. For example, industry, company size, etc. You need to connect with the decision-makers on LinkedIn and draft cold personalized messages pitching your product or service. It also ascertains if they are your Sales Qualified Leads.

Getting verified business email IDs of the decision makers gets easier with ProspectDaddy. It is a Chrome extension that provides professional email addresses from LinkedIn and sales navigators. The email IDs can be imported directly to the campaign or downloaded in CSV format to the SmartReach.io dashboard. ProspectDaddy provides information such as LinkedIn URL, designation, location, and industry. 

11. A/B Testing

A/B testing means testing different strategies and sales pitches to generate leads. One strategy doesn’t work for every kind of target audience. For example, you can produce Sales Qualified Leads on LinkedIn, whereas some B2B businesses aren’t active on LinkedIn, so you can test cold emailing strategies to capture them. For a few others, you will need to run a combination of email and outreach via Linkedin or WhatsApp.

Constantly, A/B test strategies till you start achieving your sales-qualified leads quotas

SmartReach.io allows you to A/B test up to 5 variants of B2B email subject lines and email body content. 

12. Use The Right Channel or Use Multiple Channels

As the saying goes “Be where your target audience is” – you need to make sure you are reaching out or engaging with your target audience on platforms they are most likely to be present on.

For example, if your target audience comprises founders, then you can draft a personalized email asking them for a sales call. If your target audience is mostly present on Linkedin, you can start engaging with their post first and then send them a connection request and finally send them a message – they will most likely respond to you in this way. 

Being present on platforms where your target audience and engaging with their posts will help you fall under their radar and warm up to them – making it easier to get a response from them.

SmartReach.io provides multichannel sales engagement outreach where the prospect can be reached via email, Linkedin, WhatsApp, SMS, and call. This increases the chances of getting a response from the prospect. 

13. Personalized Cold Emails

A survey revealed that 59% of marketers cite cold emails as the best strategy to generate leads. Personalized cold emails leverage the power of lead generation as they tend to engage the audience.

Sending cold emails with personalized messages addressing leads’ pain points and providing solutions via product or service creates a sense of urgency, and you eventually embark upon qualified sales leads. Data reveals that 75% of personalized cold emails are likely to be clicked by potential leads.

SmartReach.io enables you to draft and automate personalized cold email campaigns and improve your lead generation by 10x. You can create custom columns for your prospect data and add unlimited merge tags, taking personalization to a different level.

E.g.,

{{first_name}}, have read almost every social post on {{social_platform}}, especially your post on {{Post_Topic}} and am interested in shaping my career following your footsteps.

14. Lead Segmentation

Even if you have Sales Qualified Leads, you still need to segment the potential leads adhering to their demography, needs, preferences, etc. One strategy doesn’t work with every lead. As a sales rep, you need to segment your leads based on company size, pain points, budget, preferences, etc. 

Segmentation of the audience allows you to adopt different lead nurturing strategies to engage with different Sales Qualified Leads. Lead segmentation enhances your sales productivity and maximizes the chances of conversion.

SmartReach.io provides prospects categorization and tags which makes it easier to manage millions of prospects. With the categorization feature, it would be easier to which prospect is converted, interested, not interested, opted for do not disturb, etc. Custom tags can be created, which would help in the categorization of the prospect based on their responses. 

15. Use Video Prospecting

Adding videos as a part of your sales qualification strategy gives you one powerful marketing tool.

More marketers are incorporating videos as a part of their marketing strategy. To capture qualified leads, create a video explaining the benefits of your product, the pain point it solves, the features of the product, etc.

Every prospecting video is written in a defined structure to take your audience from the start to the end of it. You’ll find several resources over the internet to help you create a video prospecting script. 

16. SEO to Qualify Leads

SEO is another lead qualification tool widely used by marketers.

If your website is SEO optimized and has keywords that drive the website traffic, it helps qualify high-quality leads. Using long-tail keywords helps you niche down to leads that’ll give you a better conversion ratio compared to using generic keywords – thus driving a good quality audience pool to your website. 

A higher quality traffic maximizes the chances of converting leads to customers.

For example, in the realm of contractor SEO, optimizing your website with industry-specific keywords like “team collaboration software” or “productivity software” can significantly enhance lead qualification. By tailoring your SEO strategy to target long-tail keywords relevant to your contracting business, you can attract a more focused audience, increasing the likelihood of converting leads into satisfied customers. This targeted approach ensures that the traffic you receive is of higher quality, maximizing your conversion rates and ultimately boosting your business’s success.

17. Use an Excellent CRM Platform

CRM system helps sales & marketing teams to identify & update new qualified leads with ease and promptly. It also helps with categorizations. Its main objective is to help sales and marketing teams get the exact lead status so that the appropriate action and communication can be sent to move them down the sales funnel

SmartReach.io provides a pre-sales CRM feature under its Prospect Management section. SDRs can add prospect lists and create unlimited custom data columns that would help with personalized communication, lead source, etc

18. Use Collaborative Tools like Shared Inbox

Collaborative tools like a Common team inbox help with faster response to sales queries, improved sales team collaboration, avoid duplication of the leads, create transparency across the team, and many more 

SmartReach’s shared inbox tools help sales teams work efficiently by helping increase team collaboration and productivity. It provides a reply sentiment feature that helps with sales forecasting. Leads can be reallocated in case the prospect owner is not present or unable to handle them.  A shared inbox helps the sales manager to keep track of their team’s performance. 

19. Creating engaging content

Creating valuable and helpful content is the best way to build your audience’s trust in your brand.

If you are sending out emails to your leads, and you don’t want to make it look as though you are only interested in the sale, here is what you can do:

  1. Make a list of your lead’s pain points.
  2. Write one message around each pain point (here, you can share a personal experience or a case study about how they can overcome this pain point)
  3. Show your audience practical ways of how they can overcome the pain point.
  4. Ask your leads questions at the end of the email, and reply if they reply.

Before you get your lead on a sales call, building their trust in your brand is very important. Finally, ensure you don’t spam your leads with back-to-back emails. Dedicate a particular day/days in the week for sending out emails.

Sales Qualified Leads: Wrap up

In the article, we have discussed the difference between sales-qualified leads and marketing-qualified leads. Furthermore, we have outlined effective strategies to increase Sales Qualified Leads. Sales reps have adopted these strategies to maximize leads. As a sales rep, these strategies can help you understand your target audience and optimize your sales efforts to take them to conversions or sales.

From personalized cold emails to organizing sales events, these methods present an opportunity to find and target leads who will benefit the most from your product or service. 

Improve your lead conversion ratio by 10x using SmartReach.io. Sales development reps can achieve at least 8 of the above strategies at a fraction of the cost by using SmartReach.

It automates the process of reaching prospects through cold emails, Linkedin, WhatsApp, SMS, and Calls. Make your outreach content hyper-personalized, engaging with headlines and calls to action through SmartReach’s automation platform. It allows SDRs to qualify leads and automate sales outreach and follow-up emails to close more deals.

Try SmartReach.io for free for 14 days!

Sales Qualified Leads – FAQs

Q. What is the significance of lead segmentation?

Lead segmentation allows you to target different audiences through varied sales strategies. One strategy doesn’t lead to conversions for every lead. Segmenting the audience into small groups based on demography, needs, preferences, etc., leverages your sales efforts.

Q. How do sales events help to increase Sales Qualified Leads?

The leads generated at events have a higher probability of converting as at the sales event you have the opportunity to understand the pain points and then showcase how your product will address those pain points. It creates a sense of urgency for the leads to buy the product or service and close the conversion.


Improve sales Lead Qualification Process & Lead Quality with SmartReach.io
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