Stop Measuring MQLs
Updated: Nov 17
We often hear sales team giving comments about marketing-generated pipeline, such as, “My leads suck!” “We need more!” “Our pipeline’s not healthy.”
It’s no secret that many sales and marketing teams don’t always see eye to eye. And one of the biggest reasons is, not having metrics towards a common goal. The way marketing KPIs are measured on, usually Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs), instead of how marketing activities have contributed to sales revenue is the key misalignment between sales and marketing. The consolation part is that many marketing teams have changed to become focused on aligning with sales teams.
Why MQL alone is not a good KPI to measure Marketing’s performance To simplify the definition of MQL, it is a contact person that is more likely to become a customer compared to other leads. Determining the criteria of MQL is challenging because every business and product is different. It’s definitely something that can be built over time, but it requires experience in your business industry and also with some logical thinking from the buyer’s perspective.
In a way, these visitors might be reading your content on your website right now. You may know who they are, but you don’t know much about them. The website contents have helped them evaluate if your product might be the solution to their problems, but that doesn't mean they aren’t ready to have a call with the sales rep now. So you may be wasting sales efforts to pass them the unqualified “Marketing Qualified Leads”.
As mentioned earlier, many marketing departments are still measured on MQLs. But in actual fact, MQLs are just a number. A high number of MQLs sounds nice for the business, but they don’t mean much for the business. Because without a proper MQL qualification process/system, (e.g. lead and behavioural scoring), unqualified leads may also become a qualified MQL. The focus should be quality over quantity.
If we really want to align the marketing and sales department, the MQL-to-SQL (Sales Qualified Lead) conversion rate, which is the percentage of marketing qualified leads that get converted to sales qualified leads. This is one of the best ways because it determines the lead quality and an excellent indicator of how well your marketing team is qualifying and screening leads to maintain a high quality pipeline for the sales team. Whether in a B2B or B2C business, Marketing should be measured how the business connects with prospects and turning them into customers. Thus, Marketing needs to be accountable to a revenue goal.
Working together in the B2B Customer Journey
To align sales and marketing, we need to align marketing metrics to revenue. This makes marketers more vital to a business. The challenges of B2B Marketer typically faced are:
Having little influence over larger deals or existing accounts.
The contents/tactics for prospects to fill out your forms
The ability (lack of) to track prospects activities and behaviour, and re-engaging them again when they leave the site
To address marketing challenges while alignment with sales, there are some suggested approaches to consider:
1. Having a specific lead goal together Using the revenue objective to reverse back on the leads goals, a simple scenario as below:
The business goal is to achieve $1 million in revenue and the average deal size is $10,000, which means you need to close 100 deals.
Average close rate of 20%, you will need to have about SQLs
MQL-to-SQL conversion rate is 20%, which means you need to create 2,500 MQLs
Using this specific lead goal based on larger business revenue goals enables you to create a total lead target goal to be achieved by Marketing team. With the goal in sight, Marketing will then derive the strategy and tactical plans to acquire the marketing qualified leads.
2. MQL using Hybrid Scoring System The B2B customer journey is complex and involves multiple stakeholders in order to make a purchase decision. A prospect who may have visited your website, and never come back. In a way, your site has attracted many MQLs who will never be turned into an opportunity or a customer. On the other hand, this visitor may be just a touchpoint in the company you are prospecting into, or maybe just a researcher for information on the solution they may need. Most B2B website visitors aren’t inclined to buy when they first see your website. You need to look at convert visitors to leads and move them down your conversion funnel by monitoring your visitors’ website activities and performance in order to do a basic lead scoring for your visitors.
Some basic lead scoring principles to consider implementing: Implicit, Explicit, Demographic, Behavioural, Account lead scoring.
As per a research study by MarketingSherpa, organizations that use lead scoring experience a 77% lift in lead generation ROI, over organizations that do not use lead scoring.
With the use of marketing technology, you will be able to know who your visitors are, where they are from, what they visit on your website and other activities on your website. All these data collected can help to keep track of whether the MQL fits your target audience, and also will help in your lead generation and content strategy. Essentially, it all comes down to creating a more efficient and profitable sales process at every stage of the consumer journey. In terms of maximizing your marketing and sales ROI, lead qualification and scoring should be the first system you put in place.
3. Developing a Marketing Automation System & Process Consider the use of a Marketing Automation platform. Marketers at companies of all sizes can gain these benefits from a marketing automation platform:
Increased marketing efficiency by automating time-consuming, manual tasks
Enhanced the ability to generate more and better qualified leads. building criteria with a lead scoring system to generate sales-qualified leads
An omnichannel view of prospect behaviour. Integrate multiple channels and devices to create more comprehensive profiles
Better alignment of sales and marketing goals. Set scoring parameters and define qualified leads, sales and marketing become one team
Improved lead conversion and ROI. Forrester research discovers that B2B marketers experience a 10% increase in their sales pipeline contribution.
Marketing automation tools such as Mautic or ActiveCampaign are some of the most visual and intuitive marketing automation builders I have experienced before. In fact, so easy that I can build automation flows without official training.
We need to embark on the change in how marketing teams measure their results. Changing KPIs from marketing qualified leads alone and focus on aligning metrics to revenue, building the sales and marketing processes to map with your customer journey, and leveraging on marketing technology to increase engagement are just some simple steps to start off with.