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Defining and Using MQLs and SQLs During Inbound & Outbound Lead Generation

Defining and Using MQLs and SQLs During Inbound & Outbound Lead Generation

The journey from capturing initial interest to sealing a deal involves several stages in lead management. When Concept sets up lead generation projects with our clients, we establish a clear understanding of strategies – inbound vs. outbound – and distinctions between leads, Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs), and Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs). This is essential for goal setting, measuring success off of those goals, and aligning on overall strategy between sales and marketing teams. Let's delve deeper. 

Defining Inbound & Outbound Leads 


Inbound leads


As the name suggests, these are leads that are coming into your team, product or offering. They express preliminary interest, without being subjected to direct outreach. They typically come in from a form fill, chatbot, call, walk-in, direct email, etc.

Outbound leads


These are leads that have been identified as a potential right fit based on pre-defined criteria (e.g., Industry, Size, Geography, Persona, etc.), and generated in response to some form of outreach. Unlike inbound leads, outbound leads are actively sought out through proactive efforts, typically involving targeted research and list building.


MQLs (Marketing Qualified Leads):

These are leads that have exhibited a higher likelihood of conversion, based on their increased engagement with your marketing efforts. These individuals or entities have moved beyond the initial expression of interest and have interacted more deeply with your brand, typically via marketing email, website, ad, or content engagement


SQLs (Sales Qualified Leads):

These are leads that have had some kind of interaction with prospecting efforts and are deemed ready for purchase, representing entities that are ripe for direct sales engagement. These leads have not only shown interest in your offerings but have also met specific criteria that align with the characteristics of a potential buyer, making them suitable candidates for direct sales outreach.


Our prospecting team can identify leads through targeted outreach or help filter through inbound leads to get the right contacts on your calendar. Let’s discuss how. 



Inbound Lead Generation Tactics 

Content Marketing


Social Media


Outbound Lead Generation Tactics 

Cold Calling

Email Campaigns

Events & Trade Shows


Tools for Converting MQLs to SQLs 

Personalized Email Sequences

Product Demonstrations or Trials

Sales Calls


Setting Your Teams Up for Success 

Budgeting with Precision  

Inbound strategies, like content creation or SEO, often involve upfront costs but can lead to organic, long-term results. Outbound tactics, such as cold calling or targeted ads, might have recurring costs but can yield faster results. Clarifying the mix you want can optimize spending and ensure that your efforts will help meet your organization's goals. Unsure about how to find this mix? Talk with our team about striking this balance. 

Sales & Marketing Team Alignment  

Different lead sources may require varied sales and marketing approaches. An inbound lead, which may need to be nurtured over time, might need a softer sales touch than an outbound lead, who could be expecting a direct proposition. Setting expectations ensures the sales and marketing teams use the right tactics and messaging. 

Measuring for Success 

The metrics for evaluating an inbound lead might focus on content engagement or organic reach, while outbound might emphasize response rate or meetings booked. By distinguishing lead type and source, accurate Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) can be set, providing a realistic campaign assessment. The best time to start planning for this reporting is before you start a project or outreach. This creates an honest evaluation of various efforts. 

Lead generation is both an art and a science. As businesses navigate the twin realms of inbound and outbound strategies, clarity in tactics, progression methods, and desired outcomes is paramount. This is why we emphasize communication and dive into intricacies with every client, paving the path for a relationship that's both harmonious and results-driven. If this strikes a chord with you, let’s discuss opportunities between our teams.