Marketers, Your Salesforce Leads Do Suck – Here’s How To Define Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs)

By Yvette Montague

How many times have you heard “The marketing leads suck” or “Marketing leads are low quality, and it’s a waste of my time to follow up” from members of the Sales Team? Most Marketing Executives have heard similar statements at one time or another. Your team says the leads are of good quality and the sales team isn’t making an effort. But how do you evaluate leads? Is someone showing interest by submitting a form really enough to determine the quality of marketing leads?

In order to ensure the marketing qualified leads (MQL) are of a good quality you need to establish a standard definition – this will help improve the sales team’s confidence in marketing qualified leads. Here’s how…

Marketing Has a Role in Qualification

Traditionally, many sales teams drink from the firehose, so to speak. Every lead is passed to them for evaluation, which results in a lot of time being spent sifting through a mountain of bad leads to find a few good ones. But the whole point of marketing automation systems like Pardot is to examine the lead before it is passed to sales. Marketing should act as the first filter to remove prospects that do not fit your target audience. The output of this filter are Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL).

How to Determine Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) Criteria

MQLs can be determined by answering two questions:

  1. Is the lead interested in us?
  2. Are we interested in the lead?

Are they interested in us?

Interest can be determined by the number and quality of the lead’s interaction with your marketing content.

  • How many web pages have they viewed?
  • Have they submitted any forms?
  • Are some forms more important than others?
  • Have they downloaded whitepapers or watched videos?

With Pardot, each one of these interactions can be scored. The higher the score, the more interested the prospect.

Are we interested in them?

Your marketing team needs to determine how well potential prospects fit your target audience criteria.

  • Are they in the right geography?
  • Is the business the right size?
  • Do they have the right title and area of responsibility?

Your marketing team needs to collaborate with the sales team to understand what is the minimum amount of information that is required to make a productive sales call.

Also, it doesn’t hurt to understand what information is needed to qualify a selling opportunity. The result of qualifying a selling opportunity is a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL). While the information required for SQLs tends to be more intimate and complex than MQL, your Marketing team can evaluate if there are specific data points, such as product interest, that can be collected via marketing efforts.

Pardot can help evaluate the fit to your ideal profile by using grades. The closer the prospect match to your desired profile, the higher the grade.

The score in combination with the grade can help your Marketing team determine which leads should be passed to Salesforce and assigned to Sales, which should be nurtured in Pardot and which can be thrown away. The score and grade also signal to the sales team which leads to prioritize for contact.

How To Measure MQL Effectiveness.

From a Pardot reporting perspective, MQL is defined as the point when the lead is assigned to a salesperson, and SQL is determined by the date the opportunity was created. To measure your overall MQL and SQL ratios, use the Pardot Lifecycle Report.

If you would like to filter the results to exclude prospects synced from Salesforce (Sales efforts) or other criteria, take advantage of Salesforce Connected Campaigns. Your team can use flexible reports and rich dashboards to measure MQL and SQL percentages by the campaign, product, Google UTM parameter or any other grouping metric.

You can also create customizable MQL reports, it’s a relatively light-weight solution that will improve your marketing reporting. Read how here:

READ MORE: Customizable MQL Reporting (Beyond the Pardot Lifecycle Report)


In the world of marketing, there’s always room for improvement, and lead generation is no exception. Your Marketing team can change the relationship with Sales and results of the sales team by taking an active role in lead qualification. The MQL quality gate will establish a measurable quality standard for assigned leads.

This qualification standard will help improve the sales team’s confidence in marketing qualified leads and the conversations around leads and put everyone’s definition of quality on the same page.

The Author

Yvette Montague

Yvette recognized by Salesforce as an MVP, public speaker, and advocate for equality.

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