The strange ‘death’ of the MQL
The good old Marketing Qualified Lead has come in for a bit of a bashing of late.
The ‘Q’ has been at the receiving end of some heavy-duty scepticism from stakeholders outside of the marketing department.
Meanwhile, HubSpot is punting out its magical flywheel while proudly proclaiming the irrelevance of the MQL–and MQAs have become the three-letter
acronym of choice with the rise of ABM and the flipping of the funnel.
But are we too quick to proclaim the ‘death’ of the MQL?
One of the main reasons the MQL has come under scrutiny lies in the perennial challenges around the marketing and sales handshake. Here is a startling example:
Late last year I was in the process of helping a client with vendor selection for some new martech. I came across a piece of gated content that ticked my required boxes in the landing page promotional copy.
It promised a specific answer to a problem I was looking to solve.
Not only compelled to surrender my email address on the form, I chucked in my mobile number for good measure. I wasn’t quite waiving a purchase order around ready for the vendor to insert their name, but I could definitely be described
The marketing team had done a good job to reach the right audience and level of intent. The content did indeed deliver on its promise. The result? A happy potential punter and a strong MQL chalked up in the back end.
Then the mobile rang 20 minutes later. A verbatim transcript of the voicemail message:
“Hi Stuart, it’s Dave from vendor Y. Just called to arrange a demo. Please call me back on XXXX.”
No thought or preparation. Just smiling and dialling through a follow-up list.
I suspect this was happening on aggregate with all the SDRs across the business — no doubt with damning feedback from the sales team that “these marketing leads are crap”.
So let’s play this out differently with an alternative voicemail message that could have been left a couple of days after the form submission:
“Hi Stuart, it’s X from vendor Y here. I’ve been passed your details by our marketing team. Hopefully you have had a chance to read the E-book. I’ve been looking at the work you do and the topics covered in the content piece, specifically around topic Z. If you have a few minutes I would like to share with you some interesting new work we are doing in that area that I think could be worth exploring with you…”
(Or something along those lines. I’m no Jordan Belfont.)
With a little homework and perceived effort the vendor would have received a call back. Instead, the opportunity was missed.
Is there a simpler fix before we throw the MQL baby out with the bathwater?
This misalignment between marketing and sales is nothing new. B2B marketing teams are making great strides towards full-funnel ownership, visibility and accountability (as the increasing number of Chief Revenue Officer roles bear
‘Smarketing’ is happening (even though it is officially the worst B2B marketing buzzword since the BOFU). But it’s a long journey.
Is there a simpler fix? Perhaps around definitions — what about a name change?
From: Marketing Qualified Leads
To: Marketing Fed Intelligence
A name change that reflects the implicit contract between the marketing and sales teams.
We are feeding you intelligence not leads. It’s up to you guys how you act on the intelligence.
The marketing team is the CIA feeding in the best intelligence available. Sometimes this is a full map of a prospect’s digital footprint and a high lead score. Sometimes a reverse IP lookup and a single email address
is the best you are ever going to get.
The sales team is the Pentagon, using their best judgement to act upon the intelligence provided by the CIA. They may send in a crack team to land and expand with a fully-briefed ABM play, or carry on firing out those
demo request voicemails.
Do we drop the MQL at haste and repent at leisure?
Whatever it’s called or however it’s defined, we still need a solid mechanism to capture marketing engagement at the early stage of the buying cycle. If the only metric is the SQL or the SAL, are we not missing a trick?
At best, the MQL is a valuable marketing performance metric for marketers to report on.
At worst, we’re leaving money on the table in terms of valuable early intelligence for the sales team.