Lead Management Process: The Sales Qualified Lead

Susan Allen

In our current series of blog posts, we have been addressing the 9 Stages of the Lead Management Process. Once again, they are:

  1. Initial inquiry
  2. Initial qualification
  3. Lead nurturing
  4. Marketing qualified lead (MQL)
  5. MQL distribution to sales
  6. Sales-accepted lead (SAL)
  7. Sales-qualified lead (SQL)
  8. Opportunity/Bid
  9. Win/loss

We’ve reached Stage #7, the Sales Qualified Lead.

In the previous steps – lead distribution-to-SAL – the sales person reviewed the MQL information. He/she has then either rejected the lead as invalid or accepted it as a valid lead. In the first instance, the lead has been returned to the nurturing process.  In the second, the sales person has taken ownership of the lead and the lead has entered into the sales funnel. The new designation for the lead is now Sales-accepted Lead, or SAL.

The ratio of MQL’s to SAL’s is a good barometer of the alignment between Marketing and Sales.  By setting up an iterative process and maintaining open lines of communication with Sales, Marketing can continue to improve upon the Sales acceptance rate.


The sales person’s subsequent consultation with the prospect will qualify the lead more sufficiently and constitutes the 7th step in our process.  When the sales person is able to ensure that our solution is viable for the project, the lead can be designated as a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL.)  In BtoB sales, there is typically another step whereby we enter into the bidding process for a particular project.  The final outcome is either a Win or a Loss.

When Sales is consistent about providing feedback on the leads they are receiving and the results of their follow-ups, we will have achieved the Holy Grail of lead management. We can calculate the ROI on our Marketing spend. 

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