Defining Lead Status Classifications

This post is for the entrepreneurs that are focused on building out their products and not ready to launch a full commercial strategy.  It’s also for the thousands of traditional enterprise salespeople out there who have yet to embrace the value your marketing department can deliver in sales-ready leads.  None of this is rocket science, but it helps to see the simple definitions in one place. Listed below are the standard industry definitions we use to classify our leads in


  • Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) – This is the classification of a “soft” lead. A visitor that completes an informational form (like white paper downloads) or yielded from a purchased list (content syndication) will be classified in this status. They will be added to Salesforce as a lead in general ownership. Leads with a status of MQL will be marketed to through marketing automation until they complete an action oriented form, hit an activity threshold, or there is a request made for the transfer of ownership. In any of these scenarios, the lead status will be changed from MQL to SQL.


  • Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) – This is the default status of leads added through, by clicking ”new” in the leads tab, uploads from vertical research or a visitor to the website that completes an action oriented form (Contact Us, Pricing, or Assessment Request). It is expected that the lead owner (BDM or SDR) will contact this lead immediately. These leads are by far the best!


  • Opportunity – This is the positive progression of an MQL or SQL (lead). This classification can be made if you make contact with an SQL and have positive dialogue resulting in a scheduled follow up (meeting or call). When this occurs you should change the status of the lead from SQL to Opportunity. This classification will allow you to create a new account, contact and opportunity. You will also have the choice to add the lead, as a contact, to an existing account (this is important to note for the SDR team).


  • Disqualified (DQ) – This is the negative progression of a lead. You will select this classification if you make contact with an SQL and they are not interested in our services or further discussion.  You will also classify an SQL to this status after failing to make contact within a reasonable time frame, initially 30 days. Leads with a status of DQ will be marketed to through Marketo, until they drop out (unsubscribe, email bounces, etc) or they raise their hand again (SQL).

Time is at a premium so having these simple lead qualification statuses in place can help your sales team prioritize its efforts.


About Jeff Leo Herrmann

With a commitment to constant learning, leadership development, and teaching, I am fortunate to have a live laboratory to experiment in every day as the Chief Strategy Officer of Fathom and Show Runner for our content platform, Creating Your Unfair Advantage.Living at the intersection of Content Marketing and Social Selling enables me to be a resource to both Sales Executives and CMOs alike because I understand the dynamics of their relationship.You won't find a bigger content marketing zealot with an intense belief that brands are better off engaging their audiences with educational and entertaining content instead of blasting them with massive traditional advertising campaigns. This perspective is well informed after a 15-year career at The Nielsen Company spent in audience measurement and advertising effectiveness.As a Boomerang back to NE Ohio after 15 years split between Chicago and New York, and my time on the speaker-circut presenting in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Tokyo, London, Barcelona, Munich and Milan, I have an intense appreciation for work-life synergy and the power of virtual work environments. I am also thankful for the analytical rigor of my MBA program at the University of Chicago, Booth School of Business.

Leave a Reply