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Okay, I’ll admit it.

We don’t look at Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) anymore.

We actually haven’t for a couple of months now.

Truthfully, MQLs are dead.


And if you’re marketing to the enterprise and still using them to measure your marketing team’s performance, stop right away.


An MQL is any lead that marketing is notifying sales to follow up with.

Different companies have different criteria for what an MQL is but essentially it’s when someone takes a notable marketing action.


For example, they could have attended a webinar, requested a demo on your website, or downloaded a piece of content.


MQLs are dead because they’re an inefficient way to market to your audience.

MQLs are a methodology. It’s how you think about finding new customers. MQLs basically go off of the model that you’re going to cast a wide net, a few people are going to engage with your marketing.


From there, a smaller percentage of that engagement is going to be willing to talk to your sales team, and then a small percentage will become customers.


In the end, you still only close a small number of deals.


Not only will a small number of deals close, but you also can’t control who these accounts are. They could be smaller deal sizes or truly not the best fit for your software.


On top of that, you spend a lot of time and money marketing to a lot of accounts that will never buy.


This process leads to lower deal sizes, wasted money, and lost trust with your sales team.

You can’t control who responds to your marketing, so the odds of larger accounts coming through are small.


Since you’re marketing to a broad audience, you’re most likely spending marketing budget on accounts and contacts that will never buy your services.


And when you’re constantly notifying your sales team about unqualified leads, they start to expect that marketing will only send them a good lead once in a while. They become less excited for any campaign that you run and the marketing team loses credibility.


Marketers should be focused on helping salespeople have conversations with key decision makers at accounts that’d be excellent customers.

Then we create more efficiency. We don’t have to gate all of our content and make it so hard for clients to learn about how we can help them. We don’t have to make them jump through hoops.


On top of that, we’ll know that our marketing dollars and time are being spent on accounts that matter.


Last year, we tracked MQLs and it didn’t really move the needle.

We did all types of campaigns focused on capturing a wide audience.

One, in particular, was promoting sponsored content in industry publications. We’d usually promote a guide or case study.


We’d get 100-120 content downloads (MQLs!). It looked great for our metrics. However, a good portion of the leads were lower-level employees at real estate companies, consultants, or other roles that would never buy our software.


We’d pass our team at most 10 strong contacts, and they’d be left sifting through the other 90 leads.


This lead to one or two opportunities being created for smaller value.


When we continued to do these campaigns, the team got less and less excited when they were coming.


Once, we started running campaigns that focused on targeting the accounts that we all agreed were good fits did are marketing start to be more effective and aligned with our sales efforts.


What if I have a large addressable market?

Even if you’re not certain about who’s are the best accounts to go after, I still believe there is a subset that is more likely to buy your software and be successful. The commonality could be based on industry, existing tech stack, or intent.


Making an educated guess and focusing on engaging decision makers at those accounts will be more efficient than marketing to everyone.


So to summarize:

  1. MQLs are an inefficient way to market to your audience.
  2. This process leads to lower deal sizes, wasted money, and lost trust with your sales team.
  3. The metric we should focus on is getting a hold of decision makers at key accounts.


I truly believe this is the way we have to think about marketing. It not only will be more efficient for our teams but provide a better experience for our future customers.


I want to hear your thoughts.

Do you agree that the MQL is dead? Is there anything I’m missing? Leave a response below.