The Hare and the MQL

Approximately 2,600 years ago, Greek story teller Aesop told the story of The Hare and the Tortoise: The Tortoise, tired of the arrogant Hare’s behaviour, challenges the Hare to a race. As expected the Hare runs off into the distance leaving the Tortoise behind; so confident that he is going to win, he stops for a rest. When the Hare awakens, he learns that his opponent, who has taken a slow and steady approach, has over taken him and crossed the finish line.

When we look at Sales and Marketing departments as disparate entities, there are many similarities between the classic fable, and the two teams.

Salespeople are wanting sales qualified leads straight away, Marketing are gearing their activity towards generating and nurturing marketing qualified leads (MQLs) until they qualify as sales qualified leads (SQLs).

The moral behind Aesop’s story is that slow and steady wins the race. Now were not saying that sales teams are wrong in any way, shape or form; SQL’s are important, but to generate a greater number of SQLs, highly qualified MQLs are needed. This article shall be looking at what differentiates an MQL from an SQL, and how the two can be used to create the ultimate client acquisition strategy, resulting in a healthy pipeline of opportunities and prospects.

What differentiates an MQL from an SQL?


MQLs are now the lifeblood to any sales and prospecting funnel. Without them, you really are relying on finding the low hanging fruit, or a buyer finding you organically. That’s fine if you’re a reactive seller, but for us proactive, hungry business owners, salespeople and lead generators; marketing qualified leads can make the difference between sustainability and business growth.

As part of the prospecting process you’ll speak with people day in day out that have a requirement for your services, but are not ready to buy. These prospects are the building blocks of an effective sales, marketing and lead generation strategy.

An MQL must:

  • Have a qualified, named Decision-Maker responsible for buying your products/services (along with their contact details).
  • Have a requirement to buy your services in the future. I.e. The business does buy your products or services; however, they currently do not have an immediate need.


Sales Qualified Leads… something that we are all looking to achieve no matter what industry that you are in. The biggest differentiator between an MQL and an SQL is that the prospect has an immediate requirement to purchase what you sell.

An SQL must:

  • Have a qualified named Decision-Maker responsible for buying your products/services.
  • Be looking to purchase in the immediate future.
  • Be interested in meeting with your Salespeople to discuss a potential partnership or purchase.

How do MQLs and SQLs work together?

The prospecting funnel is getting more complex as the sales and marketing environment evolves. There has been a lot of talk and research conducted over recent years about how B2B buyers are meeting with Salespeople, and engaging with prospective suppliers, much later in the buying process… it’s something that most of us will have felt in one way or another. Mainly because buyers are looking to educate themselves on the suppliers available to them, the potential suppliers knowledge and how your solution is going to benefit them.

A combination of MQLs and SQLs are now needed to support business growth through the generation of new sales opportunities.

Having identified prospects that need to be nurtured, marketing can take full force using all the tools available to them to educate buyers, leading them through their buying journey. Nurturing prospects through techniques such as;

  • Content Writing
  • Email Marketing/Marketing Automation
  • Telemarketing
  • Social Media
  • Direct Mail

Will allow you to provide MQLs with all the information and knowledge that they need, to familiarise themselves with your brand and proposition before evolving into an SQL.

Salespeople can then take to the stage and do what they do best – sell to an educated buyer.

The moral of the story…

In the modern B2B world, marketing qualified leads are equally as important as sales qualified leads. The prospecting funnel needs a healthy mixture of the two to sustain the goals of your business. Profiling prospective businesses with a view to generating MQLs will allow you to achieve higher quality SQLs as prospects make their way through the funnel.

By taking the slow and steady approach of generating and nurturing MQLs whilst your salesforce focuses on inbound enquiries, and immediate sales opportunities will allow both your Sales and Marketing teams to reach the “finish line” at the same time.

How do your own Sales and Marketing functions work together?