Home / Glossary / What is a sales qualified lead (SQL)?

What is a sales qualified lead (SQL)?

Article originally published in May 2023 by Stuart Brameld. Most recent update in April 2024.

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Definition of a sales qualified lead (SQL)

A sales qualified lead (SQL) is a potential customer who has been identified as having a high likelihood of making a purchase, based on their interactions with a company’s marketing efforts and their fit with the company’s target audience. These leads have demonstrated a clear interest in the product or service being offered and have met specific criteria set by the marketing and sales teams. SQLs are considered to be in the later stages of the sales funnel, having moved beyond the initial awareness and consideration phases. They are now ready to be engaged by the sales team, who will work to convert them into paying customers. Identifying and nurturing SQLs is a crucial aspect of the marketing and sales process, as it helps to optimize resources and increase the chances of closing deals.

An example of a sales qualified lead (SQL)

Company: ABC Corp
Contact: John Smith, Marketing Director
Phone: (555) 123-4567
Email: [email protected]
Company Size: 200 employees
Industry: E-commerce
Annual Revenue: $10 million
Current Challenge: Struggling to scale marketing efforts and track ROI
Growth Goal: Increase marketing ROI by 20% in the next 12 months
Interest Level: Requested a demo of Growth Method’s platform and pricing information

How does a sales qualified lead (SQL) work?

A sales qualified lead (SQL) works by identifying potential customers who have shown a high level of interest and engagement in a company’s products or services and are deemed ready for direct sales follow-up. Marketers use various criteria, such as lead scoring, demographic information, and behavioral data, to determine if a lead is sales qualified. Once a lead is classified as an SQL, it is passed on to the sales team for further nurturing and conversion into a paying customer. This process helps marketers and sales teams prioritize their efforts on leads with the highest potential for conversion, ultimately increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of their sales and marketing strategies.

Expert opinions and perspectives

Here are how some of the world’s best marketing and growth professionals think about a sales qualified lead (SQL).

  • “A sales qualified lead is like a golden ticket in the world of sales and marketing. It’s a prospect who has been researched, nurtured, and deemed ready for the sales team to close the deal.” – David Meerman Scott, Marketing Strategist and Bestselling Author
  • “The key to successful sales is not just finding leads, but finding the right leads. A sales qualified lead is a prospect who has been thoroughly vetted and is ready to make a purchase decision. This is the type of lead that sales teams dream of.” – Seth Godin, Marketing Guru and Bestselling Author
  • “Sales qualified leads are the lifeblood of any successful sales organization. They represent prospects who have been carefully nurtured through the marketing funnel and are now ready to engage with the sales team to make a purchase.” – Brian Halligan, Co-founder and CEO of HubSpot

Questions to ask yourself

As a modern growth marketing or agile marketing professional, ask yourself the following questions with regard to a sales qualified lead (SQL):

  1. Does the lead match our ideal customer profile in terms of industry, company size, and job role?
  2. Has the lead demonstrated a clear need for our product or service through their engagement with our content and interactions with our team?
  3. Does the lead have the authority and budget to make a purchasing decision for our product or service?
  4. Is the lead’s company currently in a position to implement our solution, considering factors such as their existing technology stack and internal processes?
  5. What is the estimated timeline for the lead to make a purchasing decision, and how does this align with our sales goals and priorities?

Additional reading

Here are some related articles and further reading around a sales qualified lead (SQL) that you may find helpful.

  1. Sales Qualified Lead: What It Is & How to Determine If a Lead Is SQL
  2. Lead Scoring: A Complete Guide to Sales Qualified Leads
  3. What is a Sales Qualified Lead? A Complete Guide to SQLs
  4. 4 Steps to Qualifying Leads as Sales-Ready
  5. How to Identify Sales Qualified Leads: A Step-by-Step Guide

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