As an organization, you need to create your definition of a qualified lead and continue to refine it based on your sale process needs.
The blog post below is a modified excerpt from Thriving in the Customer Age. It is one of the many highlighted insights that are outlined in the book.
The typical classification of leads in B2B follows a waterfall model, starting with a Marketing Collected Lead (MCL) that becomes Qualified (MQL), which is then handed off to Sales (SQL), who determines whether the lead is ready to be sold to, and if so, then the organization has a real ready-to-buy opportunity. The four typical stages of a lead are as follows:
1.(MCL) Marketing Collected Lead: A lead collected by marketing activities that has not yet been qualified.
2.(MQL) Marketing Qualified Lead: A lead that marketing collected and then qualified. The typical requirements for qualification follow the acronym BANT:
Budget: Is there a budget in place to purchase the good or service?
Authority: Does the contact have purchasing authority?
Need: Is there a business challenge that the good or service solves?
Timeframe: When is the product or service needed? Is this known?
3.(SQL) Sales Qualified Lead: Sales now begins to work with the prospect to determine the readiness to buy. If the lead is determined to be ready to buy within the organization’s typical sales cycle time frame, the SQL becomes an opportunity.
4.Opportunity: A sales qualified lead that has a defined timeline for purchase.
Depending on the organization, this can be a long, detailed process that is handled by multiple individuals, or, as is often the case with B2C industries, the process can be compressed into a single phone call or web inquiry. As an organization, you need to create your definition of a qualified lead and continue to refine it based on your sale process needs.