The terms Marketing Qualified Lead and Sales Qualified Lead are ubiquitous in the B2B space and countless blog posts, keynote speeches and whiteboarding sessions have been wasted focusing on how to increase the quantity and quality of both.
Using MQLs and MQLs as a metric toward revenue is like basing how close you are to retirement from the number of pennies in your piggy bank
Today, we're here to say that both are past their prime and should be put out to pasture. The reason for this is not because no one is using them to measure the performance of the marketing and sales teams but because they're ineffective.
Case in point: Hubspot put out a blog post showing that only 19% of buyers want to connect with a sales rep at the awareness stage(e.g. MQL) and yet marketers hammer anyone that downloads a whitepaper, attends a webinar or stops by your booth.
Even worse, Echosign found that only 5% of their MQLs moved to closed won and they're an inbound machine. The odds of us mere mortals matching them is nill.
MQLs Seem Worthless, But What About SQLs?
SQLs compared to MQLs are night and day in terms of quality but still only about 10% of them will turn into customers according to The Aberdeen Group. That number, along with the MQL:Win rate seems dubious because most companies don't have an Opp:Win rate above 10%.
What's So Bad About 5/10% Win Rate?
There's nothing inherently wrong with increasing the quantity of MQLs and SQLs but the opportunity cost of going after them is too high. Every day money is poured in to marketing campaigns that act as a tiny lever and using MQLs and MQLs as a metric toward revenue is like basing how close you are to retirement from the number of pennies in your piggy bank. There are better, more effective ways to get you closer to your goals.
Enter The AQL/RQL
An Alumni Qualified Lead(AQL) is a person who has interacted with your product in the past; Maybe they were an end user or an admin who manages your product. When this person moves to a new company, they become and alumni qualified lead and should be nurtured because they are likely to advocate on your behalf from the bottom-up and help spread your brand's awareness in their new company. Pushing for a meeting isn't the right way to go but sending them a t-shirt or a "congrats on the new role" card can bring you top of mind.
Revenue Qualified Leads, on the other hand, are buyers who move to a new company. These are highly qualified contacts that, when moving into a new role, are evaluating their existing tech stack and likely to bring along tools they've worked with in the past. Assuming they have good association with your brand and haven't changed careers, can be an incredible ally to your sales team.
The simplest approach to track AQLs is to look at deactivations in your product. If you're seeing that a specific user has been deactivated or hasn't logged in in quite a while, there's a great chance that they've moved on to another company. Send a list of quarterly deactivations to an Upworker to get updated contact info for that contact and use it to share with the team or update the CRM.
RQLs can be identified the same way as AQLs but often we find that buyers are not the end-users of your product. They may put pen to paper but they're less likely to be an admin or day-to-day user of the platform. Most commonly, companies will have AM's track these contacts on Linkedin Sales Navigator to get notifications of those job changes although that has its own pitfalls.
What Should I Expect?
Assuming you're tracking AQLs and RQLs you'll find that 5-6% of them change jobs every month and also see a 10x close rate compared to MQLs and a 5x close rate compared to SQLs. It's a no brainer that champions who've bought and implemented your product in the past are far more likely to buy compared to a person who stopped by your booth, yet MQLs seem to get all the attention.
Crawl, Walk, Run
When you're tired of sending lists to Upwork or you find your AMs are dropping to ball on tracking folks in Sales Nav there are some easy ways to automate this process. SifData was built specifically to track contacts as they change jobs and natively surface these insights in Salesforce. Give us a call to try it out for free!