There’s been a lot of chatter in the B2B marketing community in the past few years over the “death of the MQL.” To say that we at DemandGenBlog disagree that the MQL is dying is an understatement. In this post, we’ll give you five reasons why the MQL is far from dead, but first, let’s take a quick look at why so many are predicting the MQL’s untimely demise.
It’s no secret that CMOs are receiving increased pressure to show marketing’s impact to the bottom line. At the same time, they continue to see their marketing budgets take a dip. This challenge has led to the wider adoption of multi-touch attribution solutions such as Bizible and FullCircle Insights. The advances in analytics systems have no doubt made the life of marketers much easier and we are huge believers in it. Over at DemandGenBlog, we’re users of both Bizible and VisualIQ. But these companies also have a point of view they have to sell, and it tends to exaggerate the MQL’s lack of worth.
If your marketing organization is looking to retire this fundamental lead qualification stage, chances are, your qualification criteria are far too relaxed or simply inadequate. While your objective should be to report on marketing’s contributions to revenue, the MQL is your means to that end.
Here are our five reasons why the MQL is very much alive and kicking:
It improves lead prioritization and sales productivity. Not every lead is ready to be handed over to sales. According to MarketingSherpa, 73% of marketing leads aren’t ready for that handoff. If properly defined via explicit (firmographics, demographics, BANT) and implicit (behavioral signs such as website and/or email engagement) criteria you should be handing over high quality leads that are ready to move to the next stage in your funnel. Instead of following-up with unqualified leads, your sales team will spend time on leads that are ready to take that next step into a product demo or meeting.
It promotes sales and marketing alignment. The collaborative nature of determining and agreeing upon the definition of an MQL should help strengthen the relationship between these two groups. Sales buy-in is extremely important to getting MQLs that convert. As one of our previous blog posts on the Dos and Don’ts of Lead Scoring suggests, “sales has intelligence that we simply don’t have visibility into. They talk to our prospects every single day and therefore know our audience [in many cases] better than we do. This is also an opportunity to improve the sales and marketing relationship. It creates a shared lead definition that everyone has agreed to. And finally, this is an easy way to establish SLAs for lead follow-up.”
It helps with your media planning. Clearly defined MQL criteria is half your battle when preparing your media mix and testing new channels. Knowing exactly who your audience is from a demographic and firmographic perspective can go a long way when evaluating vendors. As part of my interview process when working with a new vendor, my philosophy is to be very transparent about what types of leads I’ll be sending to my sales team and what I’m willing to pay per MQL. If the vendor is confident that they can deliver on your requirements, they’ll be more than willing to offer you a test campaign or evaluation period.
It helps establish a baseline for which you can continuously improve on. Don’t expect to get this right the first time. Redefine your MQL criteria or tighten your qualification standards if your MQL to opportunity rates are not where you want them to be. Analyze your MQL distribution in relation to your named accounts – are most of your MQLs from tier 1, 2 or 3 accounts? Your goal should be to have 80% of your MQLs come from your tier 1 and 2 accounts.
It actually does help drive revenue. Sure, as marketers, all we want is for our campaigns to drive revenue. But to obtain that desired revenue, you have to take your leads through various stages of the funnel (MQL, SQL, SAL, opportunity, closed lost/won) and you have to track those stages. The MQL is crucial in the lead management process because it sits at the very top of the funnel and without a very well tracked and established MQL metric, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Why? Because identifying specific MQL goals that are tied to larger business goals will enable you to provide your team with the right objectives at the top of the funnel. Wondering how to actually do this? Our post on 6 Critical Demand Gen Metrics is a great how to on how to establish and measure these KPIs.