The Myth of the Sales-Ready MQL

We all know that aligned marketing and sales teams create WAY better business results for a company, especially a B2B and SaaS company.

And yet, marketing builds alignment the completely wrong way and often hands off useless leads to sales.

I used to do it.

First, I’d have my team create ebooks and we’d run ads in the name of leads. We’d look at “engagement minutes” and explore other tools from Martech vendors.

Then, on Fridays I’d run a campaign to leads that were within 10 points of an MQL. Maybe an ABM campaign in the name of awareness that would activate a sales content. Or, maybe a campaign based on intent data with more sales touches.

Every time, the content I’d send would score the leads over the threshold. We’d celebrate reaching our MQL numbers week over week, but what we sent over to sales didn’t close. In fact, the MQLs were closing at less than 1%.

Why were they closing so low?

Because they weren’t actually qualified buyers. And, sales didn’t want them.

The more time sales wasted on leads that didn't buy, the more misaligned we got.

We had a great CPL and cost per MQL metric, but our CAC was terrible. This misalignment broke down trust with the sales team.

Until we started something new…. We turned off lead scoring and changed our definition of sales-ready. Together, these led to a whole different strategy that shifted our results and rebuilt trust with our sales team.

Here at Elevate Demand, in every account we’ve audited, we’ve found that less than 1% of MQLs turn to revenue. Instead of using “pain points” and tactics which misalign sales and marketing, we’ve created the Buyer-Led Growth Strategy. This is the strategy that shifted our results so powerfully.

To date, it’s resulted in 100% customer ROI. If you’d like to join them, book a discovery call with our founder today.

Let’s take a look at how we shifted our strategy.

Shift Your Sales-Ready Definition and Turn Off Lead Scoring

When MQLs close at such a low rate, it kills your marketing team’s reputation. That’s why lead scoring has to go.

It’s tracking (and building) all the wrong behaviors from your marketing team.

No one is downloading an ebook or attending a webinar hoping that a sales team activates a cadence. But marketing teams pretend that these activities show intent.

Instead of focusing on creating campaigns to general leads and MQLs, what does your team need to do?

They need to focus on campaigns that actually turn buyers into customers.

Starting with changing that sales-ready definition.

So if the old definition isn’t working, what should your new definition be for sales-ready?

When a lead requests a sales interaction.

This is the only definition for sales-ready that matters. Period. Read it again:

Sales-ready is when a lead requests a sales interaction.  

They say that what we measure grows, and so it makes sense that when we’re measuring CPL, our focus is on acquiring leads, rather than the quality of the lead.

In today’s market, the buyer has all the power, and yet marketing teams still focus on pain points and ‘brand awareness’ with the misconception that brand marketing creates buyer intent. Why are we still using an old model that doesn’t work anymore?

By flipping the definition of sales-ready, your marketing focus changes naturally.

Your new MQL definition becomes an inbound lead with a request for a demo, a free trial, or a quote. When you pass those leads on to your sales team, they’ll close at a higher rate. And what will happen next?

Your marketing and your sales team will start to align as trust rebuilds.  

Alignment really is that easy. You start by handing off leads that actually close.

As you start to think about how to drive inbound leads, your marketing may transform. You begin to optimize your marketing to bring in more legitimate sales-ready leads. You ask different questions, like the following:

How do you build demand gen and marketing ops to actually get people to request a sales interaction?

Asking this question is what led us to the strategy we developed. 

How B2B Marketing Shifts

Old marketing approaches amplify friction: content is gated, it’s focused to drive scoring behaviors, it’s weak and not relevant to your buyers.

When you start to think about how you’re going to build demand generation, you shift two big things.

First, you capture as much existing demand as possible through paid search. In fact, this only captures less than 1% of buyers.

Second, you distribute content to the remaining 99% of buyers. Instead of only marketing to the 1% that are in buy mode, you also focus on the 99% who aren’t in buy mode yet.

How do you distribute content to the remaining 99%? You shift what you’re making and how you’re getting it out there. Here are a few changes to start with. You’ll notice that some of them are things to stop doing while others are behaviors to start doing.

1.  You start to focus on messaging and positioning.

2.  You start to figure out what differentiates your product and to understand your buyers’ pain points deeply.

3.  You start creating the right types of content that they actually want to read.

4.  Your content quality improves because you need to educate the market in a way that drives them to take action.

5.  You stop gating content and allow your target market to consume it freely.

6.  You stop hiding pricing behind sales walls

7.  Your email marketing changes from link clicks for tracking and scoring to an approach that informs and helps your customers.

Your lead numbers may drop, but your win rates will go up as your sales team talks with more qualified buyers.  

And as that alignment builds, your revenue will increase. 

Interested in learning more about how to implement this approach? Book a discovery call with our founder today.