From the time a person learns about a product (including goods and services) to the time they make a purchase, they go through various stages. The product provider wants to find customers who are more likely to buy the product and encourage them to buy it sooner.
Therefore, MQLs, SQLs, and PQLs are level classifications of the awareness/status of potential customers (leads) who are interested in the company’s products, based on their behaviors.
These are concepts that have been used predominantly in marketing for the past decade. In this article, we will examine the meaning of the terms and how they (lead level identification and management) can be automated.
What are the Four QLs?
A Qualified Lead (QL) is a potential customer who meets certain criteria; QLs increase in level from IQL to MQL to SQL/PQL as the probability of purchase/paying increases.
※Of these, IQL and PQL are already broadly defined, whereas MQL and SQL are defined differently by each company. Therefore, the relative level and position of each of these differ from company to company. In particular, PQLs should be considered as a separate layer.
What is an IQL？
Potential customers whose contact information is known among the leads are called Information Qualified Leads (IQLs).
Specifically, these are leads that received helpful materials, white papers, or other information in exchange for providing an email address or other information.
At this point, the lead is aware of their problem but both the lead and product provider does not know if the product will solve that problem.
Therefore, the marketing team should take steps to understand the issues that the lead is facing (through surveys, interviews, etc.) and provide examples of issues that can be solved with the product (through video content, webinars, etc.).
Through such efforts, it is necessary to increase leads’ willingness to purchase the product by making them aware that the product is a good match for their issues.
What is an MQL?
MQLs (Marketing Qualified Leads) are prospects to focus marketing efforts on, also known as Warm Leads (soon-to-be customers).
Leads that meet the (company-determined) criteria are defined as MQLs. This reduces unnecessary marketing costs and lost opportunities (i.e. the risk of missing out on promising prospects) by eliminating inappropriate leads that are unlikely to purchase your product.
Examples of criteria include:
- Repeated visits to specific pages (features/prices/examples, etc.)
- Must have downloaded product literature
- Know the name of the company (for B to B) / name of the person in charge / phone number.
- Participation in a webinar
- Customers must have a problem that can be solved by the product (e.g. survey respondents).
In other words, leads that are looking for products that can solve their problems and leads that can be specifically contacted with the possibility of making a purchase.
Marketing and internal sales will conduct marketing activities such as offering free trials and free consultations to these MQLs.
While defining leads in this way allows for effective marketing activities, the following challenges exist when determining MQLs. To understand site visits it is necessary to track/record lead behavior by referring to access analysis tools. In addition, if multiple criteria have been established it is important to understand how well the other criteria are being met, so it becomes necessary to organize and devise methods of obtaining and recording information. Doing these manually takes a lot of time.
What is an SQL?
SQLs (Sales Qualified Leads) are prospects that should be the focus of your sales efforts, also known as Hot Leads (immediately-to-be customers).
Examples of criteria for determining SQL include:
- Have actually tried the product by signing up for a free trial or free sample
- Must have applied for a free consultation
- Requested an estimate
- Must have signed up for a demo
- Budget must match product price
- Company size (as determined by the company) must be greater than or equal to the criteria
- Permission for sales to contact them
SQLs believe that using the product may solve their own problems. They also have a certain level of willingness or ability to purchase the product.
The sales representative will contact the SQL directly and suggest ways to solve the issues that the lead has. In the case of SaaS business, we also provide support on how to use the product by offering free trials. These efforts can lead to a purchase/contract.
What is a PQL?
So what is a PQL?
PQLs (Product Qualified Leads) are promising prospects who have signed up for a free trial or free edition of a product.
PQLs have the intent to use the product and therefore have the potential to purchase it. Therefore, as a level of prospect, they are the closest leads to SQLs. (However, it is necessary to determine if the lead is a true PQL based on the frequency of trial use and interviews, as it is possible that the lead may have applied for the product by mistake or for incentive purposes.)
As with SQL, the main activities for PQLs will be to propose solutions to issues that leads have and to provide assistance on how to use the products.
How to Automate MQL and PQL Identification/Management
It is very difficult to manually obtain the information that will be used as the basis for these QL decisions and to make conformity judgments. In particular, tracking/recording lead behavior by multiple criteria can be time-consuming, costly and error-prone.
The cloud-based no-code development platform Questetra BPM Suite can be used to automate MQL and PQL identification/management.
In Questetra BPM Suite the workflow diagram is the blueprint of the business system. Therefore, you can construct a business system by drawing a workflow diagram. It is also possible to operate the created workflow diagram as it is as a business system.
If you want to create an automatic identification/management system (workflow application) for MQLs and PQLs, organize the criteria for decision-making and the management method for MQLs/PQLs from which the criteria information is obtained. Based on the organized information a workflow diagram can be created to show who processes what and in what order.
There are two types of processes on a workflow diagram: processes that are handled by humans and processes that are handled automatically by the system. In the human process an input form (processing screen) is automatically created by setting input/selection items. In the automatic process you can set how the workflow is automatically processed.
With Questetra BPM Suite such a Workflow App (business system) can be built with no code. In addition, samples (templates) can be downloaded and used immediately. If you are interested, please try it out.