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.


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