What's the difference between MQL, PQL and SQL? 

October 20, 2021
Fred Melanson
4 min
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What's the difference?

How does each of them impact our strategy as a bottom startup?

Which one should you track?

Because if your business attracts customers in a marketing/product/community-led way, your qualified leads will vary from a traditional top-down strategy.

Adjusting your qualification to the bottom-up reality is crucial.

Tracking leads, more specifically qualified leads, can lead to big revenue gains (or losses if not done right) for your SaaS.

BUUUUUUUUT, most of the content out there is unclear 😒, and complicated. 😵‍💫

So we figured we'd have your back and demystify them all for you.

Here's an easy way to differentiate Marketing Qualified Leads, Product Qualified Leads and Sales Qualified Leads for your bottom-up SaaS. 👇


I want to make it as simple and actionable as possible. So I'll give you what I think is the easiest for any SaaS startup. If you're the size of Slack or Atlassian and want to make things complicated, you probably have lots of smart people in-house who can figure it out ;)

To understand the difference between a marketing qualified lead (MQL), a product qualified lead (PQL) and a sales qualified lead (SQL), let's look at a normal funnel for a bottom-up company.

People become aware of your company through the product itself or marketing, then they sign up, and eventually, some of them become customers.

SaaS acquisition funnel

At the first stage, leads can show interest in a solution like yours through blogs, podcasts, going to pages of your website, attending webinars, searching for specific keywords online.

Those are marketing qualified leads.

Marketing qualified leads

Then, some sign up for your product. Once they reach key product milestones that indicate that they understand the value of your solution, they're considered as product-qualified leads.

Product qualified leads

Sales qualified leads. So leads that your reps should start engaging manually, are MQLs and PQLs who fit your ideal customer profile.

Sales qualified leads

At the end of your funnel, many PQLs will convert by themselves and can go fully self-serve, while you might have SQLs that convert to customers with some help from your revenue teams getting involved.

Acquisition flow PQLs and SQLs

Remember that 40% of Slack's revenue last year came from identifying PQLs who could become SQLs and expanding or upselling those accounts.


How should you engage all those leads based on where they are in the funnel?

The easiest way is by using a qualification matrix, originally created by Derek at Sherlock.

On the MQL side, you want to identify where your lead is based on marketing engagements and customer fit.

Then either ignore, add to campaigns, adjust content or engage in a sales process.

Marketing qualification matrix

On the PQL side, you want to identify where your lead is based on product engagements and customer fit.

Then either ignore, offer support, nurture or engage in a sales process.

If you're wondering how your revenue teams can easily know where your leads are in both those matrixes, that's what we do at Bliinx. 🚀

Give it a try for free ! 

That's how I would do it. It's simple, easy to track and can lead to big revenue results for your go-to-market strategy.

Love those tips?

Have a wonderful day 🤩

✌️ out, Fred

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