Here’s How Enterprise B2B Marketers Are Determining If Their Prospects Qualify As MQLs or SQLs

July 12, 2017

Four best practices can lead to significant lifts in conversion rates from marketing qualified leads (MQLs) to sales, per new research from Altman Vilandrie & Company. Those best practices are: rigorous journey mapping; sophisticated lead scoring; standardized lead handoff; and coordinated upsell efforts.

Just 15% of B2B firms are using all of these strategies, per the report.

It’s certainly worth exploring the full study to see how these contribute to conversion lifts. For now, here are some highlighted data points for each of those best practices, with particular weight given to lead scoring.

Customer Journey Mapping

The research indicates that “journey mapping is associated with a 3-5 percentage point lift in conversion rate of MQLs to sales.”

Companies implementing rigorous journey mapping also enjoy higher SQL to sales conversion rates than others, though the correlation may not necessarily be causative.

Worth noting is that while 7 in 10 marketers surveyed report mapping the customer journey, fewer than 15% re-evaluate their efforts more than once a year.

Advanced Lead Scoring: Determining MQLs and SQLs

MQLs and SQLs are the most common lead stages used by enterprise B2B marketers, per research from ANNUITAS.

To discover how B2B companies are qualifying prospects, AV&Co. surveyed 190 B2B marketing decision-makers from US companies with more than $100 million in annual revenues. The researchers then segmented the responses depending on the type of product sold: a highly complex product (n=99) or a simple/moderately complex product (n=91).

The results show that with respect to highly complex products, the customer actions most commonly used to determine MQLs are:

  • Inbound communication (66%):
  • Event registration/sign in (62%);
  • Website visits (58%); and
  • Content downloaded (52%).

Close behind, and used by almost half, are content downloads and email registration (each at 49%).

For those selling simple or moderately complex products, the actions used are slightly different, with:

  • Website visits (67%) on top; followed by
  • Inbound communication (59%);
  • Email registration (57%);
  • Webinar attendance (53%); and
  • Event registration / sign-in (52%).

For both groups, display or video ad clicks and social media activities are relatively sparsely used, by roughly one-third and one-quarter of respondents respectively.

When it comes to determining sales qualified leads (SQLs), the top 2 actions for both groups were: request for pricing/appointment; and request for sales appointment. These are equally used by those selling simple to moderately complex products, while those selling complex products slightly prioritize pricing requests.

Following were customers creating carts and requests for content marketing. Each of these actions is considered by more than half of respondents regardless of product complexity.

Standardized Lead Handoffs

Only around one-third of the marketers surveyed characterized their handoff procedure as highly standardized.

The analysts note that standardization can help with marketing and sales alignment. Prior research has shown that this is an area in need of improvement: a survey from LeanData found that, on average, 1 in 4 leads is routed to the incorrect account owner. In the above-mentioned report from ANNUITAS, meanwhile, 56% reported having defined agreements (SLAs) between marketing and sales defining times for lead routing, lead response and lead disposition.

Of the 4 best practices identified in Altman Vilandrie and Company’s report, standardized lead handoffs is the one with the greatest potential standalone lift in conversion rates.

Collaborative Upsell

The last of the best practices identified is marketing and sales collaboration after the initial sale. The research results indicate that only a bare majority (55%) of B2B marketing decision-makers are using both teams in a collaborative manner to grow revenues.

This brings to mind a separate study from Altify, in which only 35% of B2B marketers and 48% of salespeople surveyed felt that their companies are effective at maximizing the potential revenue from major accounts.

The full AV&Co. study is available here.


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