Account Planning

Sales Qualified Lead

Posted On
April 20, 2023
Resource Type
Account Planning
sales metrics and opportunity planning pic

Figuring Out Your Funnel

As a sales manager or director, one of your key responsibilities is to ensure that your sales team is spending most of their time on the qualified lead or leads they get. With limited time and resources, it’s important to focus on the leads that are most likely to close and generate revenue for your business. In this blog post, we’ll explore the concept of sales qualified leads (SQLs), sales accepted leads (SALs), and marketing qualified leads (MQLs), and discuss how you can prioritize your team’s efforts to maximize your chances of success. Lo and behold, a sales qualified lead is generally a good metric to measure marketing on, at minimum, to hold them accountable. We’ll cover the essential steps to get this right, different ways for a sales approach to align with the process, and more.

What is a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)?

The definition of a sales qualified lead (SQL) is a lead that has been identified as having a high potential to become a paying customer. Unlike marketing qualified leads (MQLs), which are identified by marketing teams based on their interest in a product or service, a sales qualified lead is identified by sales teams based on their potential to convert. These leads have typically engaged with your company in some way, such as by filling out a contact form or requesting a demo, and have demonstrated a genuine interest in your product or service. Typically, an opportunity is created because the sales team has identified a need, budget, and authority to move the deal along. This might differ by organization, depending on your lead qualification standards.

Identifying SQLs is a critical step in the sales process, as it allows sales teams to focus their efforts on the leads that are most likely to close. By prioritizing sales qualified leads, sales reps can use their time more efficiently and effectively, and increase their chances of hitting their sales targets.

What is a Sales Accepted Lead (SAL)?

Sales accepted leads (SALs) represent a qualified lead that has been accepted by the sales team as meeting a set of criteria that justify their effort to engage. While there are many factors, this is usually determined by:

  1. Demographics: (Seniority/Title/Job Function/Experience
  2. Firmographic: Certain company sizes, company revenue, geographic location, industry
  3. Technographic: In some cases, a qualified lead will need to use certain tools to be a fit (Salesforce for Salesforce native apps) for example

These leads have typically been identified by the marketing team as MQLs. However, they require additional qualifications from the sales team before they can be classified as SQLs. SALs are leads that the marketing team considers to have potential. However, require further qualifications before they can be considered a high-potential opportunity for sales. Leads in sales queues typically provide a picture of what pipeline is coming in the future.

Once a lead has been classified as a SAL, the sales team will typically work to qualify them further through a series of touchpoints. This includes phone calls, email outreach, and personalized demos. The goal of this process is to identify which SALs have the potential to become SQLs. It helps to focus the sales team’s efforts on these leads.

What is Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)?

Marketing qualified leads (MQLs) are leads that have demonstrated an interest in your brand or offer, as the result of your marketing efforts. Typically, through some sort of engagement with your marketing campaigns, such as downloading one of your lead magnets. This can include a prospect attending multiple webinars, looking at several product pages, pricing, or requesting a demo. Lead generation fills the top of the funnel, but unless you split the funnel that a lead comes from and separate high-intent leads to sales (demos) it will take longer to convert.

While marketing qualified leads represent a large pool of potential customers, they have not yet been qualified by the sales team. Each marketing lead needs to be segmented based on how it became a lead. You’re going to treat a demo request, or someone who installs a free version of your product differently than someone who downloads a few pieces of content. A prospect who attends a webinar and visits your pricing and product pages may need some hand-holding. Maybe even customized outreach from sales and marketing teams.

One effective way to nurture MQLs is through targeted outreach and personalized messaging. By tailoring your messaging to the specific interests and pain points of each MQL, you can help move them further down the sales funnel. Therefore increasing their potential to become qualified leads.

While MQLs are not yet classified as potential customers, they are important to the sales process as they represent a pool of leads that can be nurtured and qualified by the sales team. By using targeted outreach and personalized messaging, the sales team can help move MQLs through the sales funnel and toward becoming SALs or SQLs. Don’t miss out on good potential leads because of poor classification or outreach.

Different ways sales qualified leads move around systems that aren't your CRM

Qualified Leads: The Difference Between MQLs, SALs, and SQLs

While MQLs, SALs, and SQLs are all important components of the sales qualification process, it’s important to understand the key differences between them to prioritize your team’s efforts effectively. A sales lead can be a time suck or the key to keeping the lights on. Don’t miss out on a prospective customer due to poor process or prioritization.

MQLs are leads that have demonstrated an interest in your brand or offer. But, have not yet been qualified by the sales team. These leads represent a large pool of potential customers but require additional qualifications. The prospect is much earlier in their journey and typically needs to better understand the solutions available, your product, and the impact of purchasing your tool or service.

SALs are leads that have been identified as having potential by the marketing team. However, they require further qualification by the sales team before they can be considered SQLs. The marketing team has already vetted SALs to some extent, representing a smaller pool of potential customers.

SQLs are qualified sales leads that meet certain criteria and thresholds. They give the team a level of confidence that they’ll become a customer and turn into a sale one day.

Lead conversion is critical, companies typically leave revenue on the table due to process issues. If you want more sales, getting leads through the funnel is critical. Marketing and sales teams should revisit the types of leads that are converting. Make sure that the team is building a lead generation strategy to acquire more of the best-fit accounts. Once you’re converting leads to customers, account plans should be the next step to grow that account. This is one aspect of a sales strategy to win, retain and grow key accounts. But there are countless others, such as account mapping.

Leads In Sales: Turn A Qualified Lead Into Revenue

Generating quality leads that can turn into a customer is mission-critical for any GTM team. Mqls and SQLs don’t mean much if the prospect doesn’t take meaningful actions. Eventually leading them to purchase your product or services. A salesperson can take several steps to turn sales leads into a customer. Let’s break down a few ways to go about this.

  1. Build a Relationship: Before trying to sell to an SQL, it’s important to build a relationship with them. This means taking the time to understand their business objectives. What are the pain points, challenges, and positioning your product or service as a solution to their specific needs? Understand what keeps them up at night. What are they measured on? How can you make their job easier? The more you give, the more trust and rapport you will build.
  2. Understand their Buying Process: It’s important to understand how your SQLs make purchasing decisions. This includes identifying who the decision makers are, what their budget is, and what their timeline for purchasing is. By understanding the buying process, you can tailor your sales pitch. Ensure it meets the needs of the SQL and increase your chances of closing the deal.
  3. Tailor Your Sales Pitch: Every SQL is unique, and so is its buying process. To increase your chances of converting an SQL into revenue, it’s important to tailor your sales pitch. What are their specific needs and pain points? This means doing your research and understanding their business objectives. What are their pain points, and challenges, and positioning your product or service as a solution to these needs?
  4. Provide Value: One of the most effective ways to convert an SQL into revenue is to provide value throughout the sales process. This means going beyond the product or service you’re selling. Provide insights, advice, and resources that help your SQL achieve their business objectives. By providing value, you can position your company as a trusted advisor and increase your chances of closing the deal.


In conclusion, turning a qualified sales lead into revenue requires a combination of skills. Relationship building, understanding your SQLs’ buying process, tailoring your sales pitch, providing value, being persistent, and closing the deal. By following these tips, you can increase your chances of converting your SQLs into paying customers and driving revenue for your business. The sales pipeline should give you historical context of what “qualified” means in your business. Aim for a certain win rate by stage, by source. This will help your team decipher the best leads, and when they’re truly qualified depending on their level of interest.



How do you define the criteria for a sales qualified lead?

SQL criteria – look at 6-12 months of data and see which leads convert, turn into customers, and stay/grow with your business. Trends in buyers such as their seniority, job title, tenure with the company, and more will help you spot the best leads. This also goes for the makeup of the company. Every lead is different, but your best leads should meet certain standards that you see throughout your customer base. Other leads may have purchase intent, so we wouldn’t recommend disqualifying them right off the bat. Do your due diligence and confirm a lack of fit.

How does lead scoring work with determining SQL’s?

Prospects that are most likely to become a buyer may fit into a model. However, you need to tightly define the model. Potential customers are more likely to come in through a high-intent action than a lead score from our experience. It can help you forecast which leads are most likely to move through the funnel quickly.


What are the metrics to look at during the lead process?

Conversion rates are a big one. What percentage of Sales Accepted Leads are converted into meetings? The rate for a lead from MQL to Sales Accepted Leads, is there a qualified lead issue? This could be a sign that the Ideal Customer Profile needs tweaking if the marketing team continues to bring in leads that don’t fit strong criteria. What is the average time to response? Getting in front of leads and prioritizing the actions taken based on the source will help with conversion rates.

Posted On
April 20, 2023
Resource Type
Account Planning