Between sales, marking, and executives; it seems like no one can reach consensus on what actually counts as a qualified lead. It only becomes more confusing as you start comparing the definition from industry to industry.
Some of the most common terms you’re likely to hear are:
To make things worse, some of these terms are actually interchangeable – it just depends on who you’re talking to.
In this blog, we’ll take you through all of these different types of B2B leads and give you some tips about how to start implementing consistent terminology in your business.
To keep things simple we’ll go through the different lead types in order of least likely to make a purchase to most likely.
A target lead or cold lead refers to a company that falls into your target market and is a good fit for your product or service but who hasn’t actually engaged with you yet.
You may have found the cold lead through research on tools like LinkedIn or by purchasing a list from a third-party vendor. At this point, there’s no indication that the company will ever buy from you other than the fact that you’re solution fits their business.
Cold leads generally require some outbound sales and marketing in order to move down the sales pipeline. This can include email marketing, calls, or targeted advertising.
In a nutshell, these leads have engaged with your brand in one way or another (visited your site, clicked your ad, downloaded a case study, came to your tradeshow booth, etc…); but at this point, no one on your team has confirmed whether they’re actually a fit for your solution.
Take a form being filled out on your website to download a case study, any number of people could have taken that action – for example; a student, someone in another country, someone at a start-up company, or maybe it’s someone who fits perfectly into your target market.
So, how do we move from an information qualified lead or marketing unqualified lead to the next level?
A marketing qualified lead or warm lead is a lead that meets a couple of criteria. #1 – preliminary research shows they fall into your target market and it appears as though your solution would be a good fit. #2 – they’ve engaged with your brand by visiting your website, clicking an ad or downloading collateral.
They could definitely be a possible opportunity but they haven’t taken enough actions for you to confidently assume they’ll move down the pipeline.
A good way to manage MQLs is to add them to a nurture campaign. Check out this blog for some tips on nurturing B2B leads.
Most exciting for any company is the prestigious sales qualified lead or hot lead. These leads have travelled through marketing, been handed off to sales and are ready for the next step in the sales process. This means they’re ready for a meeting with your sales team.
These leads have met all of your criteria and have taken multiple actions to show intent. Of course, that’s not always easy to determine unless they’re consistently filling out forms on your website. So how do you get around that? Conversion software. With conversion software, you can track a lead’s activity as they travel through the buyer’s journey. Whether they’re revisiting your website, opening emails, or reading your content on media publications – you’ll be able to get a 360 view.
Another thing to keep an eye out for is not just how often they’re engaging with your brand, but what specifically they’re engaging with. If they’re requesting free trials or downloading product specs then you can assume they’re SQLs.
Now you know what all these different definitions stand for, it’s important to share that information across all involved departments (including executives). Make sure everyone has the same understanding of the terms and consistently uses them in all communication from your CRM to internal emails and meetings. They may slip up at first, but over time, if you keep pushing the specified terms it’ll become second nature and make understanding your sales and marketing results so much easier.
About Gail Moch
Gail has a background in marketing and technology that she puts to use as ActiveConversion's marketing manager. She has a passion for innovation and creativity that she applies to all aspects of her life. When she isn't at the office, Gail can be found relaxing with her husband and two dogs.