If you are unfamiliar with the terms MQL and SQL and why the differences are important – you need to read on.

MQL = Marketing Qualified Lead
SQL = Sales Qualified Lead

So – in the context of outbound marketing – what are they?


You send out an email to a prospect and he responds with variations of “Sounds Interesting, I’d like to find out more“.

Traditionally, this is a lead and entered into the CRM and measured as such. But there’s a problem with that.

Let’s say you respond with more information and the guy says “oh, that’s what it’s all about – sorry, I’m not interested at all”. Then, actually, this guy wasn’t a true lead in the first place. He put his hand up, but then quickly put it back down again. In marketing, that’s fine – just another nibble. But to a sales exec, that’s a “big waste of my time!!”


You send an email, the prospect responds, asking for more info, you send it, he then says “cool, I’m interested”. Bam. SQL.

This is the contact you’ll be happy to pass onto the sales exec. Sure, the opportunity might not get created and the sale might still fall through but this happens less often with SQL’s than it does with MQL’s.

Within your organisation, you need to decide what defines an MQL vs an SQL. It’s important because:

1 – A low MQL to SQL conversion rate highlights problems with targeting, relevancy and message with outbound campaigns.

2 – For teams where lead generation and sales roles are split,┬áthe point at which an MQL becomes and SQL is a clear handover of responsibility – crucial for accountability.

A recent trend is to change SQL into SAQL (Sales Accepted Qualified Lead). This is where lead gen pass what they believe to be an SQL to sales, but sales have to ‘accept’ it first. It’s supposed to stop the lead gen guys fudging the figures but we’re not sure this isn’t a step too far.

To sum up, knowing the difference between an MQL and SQL will help you refine your outbound sales process and provide helpful metrics to the people involved. Our advice would be to incorporate them into your workflow as soon as you’re able.

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