7 min read

Every single sign you're in MQL Hell

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Have you ever paid the high price for a batch of "BANT-qualified" leads for your sales team and instead of seeing follow-ups on your $400/lead program, the contacts sat there in your CRM and never saw the light of day? 

Or did your marketing team ever hand you hundreds of “Marketing Qualified" leads whose only real qualification was that they downloaded an ebook....one time?

Then you might be in MQL Hell.

Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) are almost always the biggest point of friction between sales and marketing teams, caused by mis-aligned processes and mutual misunderstandings on what a “qualified” lead actually is. 

Although many industry-leading companies have tried to formally define the MQL, including HubSpot, Salesforce, and Marketo, most organizations still find themselves with internal friction, a leaky pipeline, and too many issues to count. 

And, beyond these almost clinical-like definitions, filled with mumbled consultant jargon, we are finding that everyone has their own special way to describe what it feels like to be in MQL Hell.

So, if you’re caught in purgatory, don’t feel alone. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

What are some of the ways you have used to describe what it feels like to be in MQL or SQL Hell?

Here's our running list of the ways we've heard people describe the burning pain of MQL Hell.

And, if we have missed one you have, please leave yours in the comments and we'll gladly add it to our growing list!


Signs You Are In MQL Hell

  • Your CRM still has hundreds of leads from a trade show import in 2019 that have never been assigned or followed up on by anybody.
  • You have a constantly changing, manual method for declaring what an MQL is.
  • There’s one person who keeps changing that MQL definition for everyone else.
  • Everyone assumes one MQL equals one opportunity or deal.
  • The average age of an MQL waiting to be followed up on is more than a few days (not to mention months or years).
  • Everyone complains about all the duplicates in your CRM.
  • No one complains about all the duplicates in your CRM.
  • Management wants to benchmark your MQL performance against “industry standards.”
  • One “bad” MQL gets repeatedly referenced as a punchline to denigrate the entire concept of MQLs (and the entire Lead Gen team or systems responsible for them).
  • Your sales team constantly complains that marketing leads suck and just ignores them.
  • Sales has their MQL reports and Marketing has theirs. Wanna guess which one management uses?
  • Everyone keeps asking how MQLs work.
  • Nobody is asking how MQLs work.
  • Management wants you to calculate how many MQLs it will take to hit a pipeline or revenue target.
  • Your demand gen team is compensated based on the volume of conversions.
  • People are obsessed with a definitive attribution/sources as the end-all-be-all metric (some might have first touch, last touch and multi-touches).
  • You are frequently asked to undo or delete some number of MQLs (so they never really happened).
  • Marketing is on the hook to “create pipeline” but has no role in creating opportunities or deals.
  • There are no BDRs, so MQLs go straight to Account Reps.
  • You have thousands of leads that have never changed from “new” or “open”.
  • You have no way to consistently track how existing contacts are interacting with your marketing content or events.
  • You can’t accurately calculate conversion rates from Leads to Pipeline.
  • Leads are falling through cracks in your process.
  • The BDRs re-assign all MQLs back to Marketing “nurture” in bulk so as to not have to work on them.
  • Everyone believes an MQL = one Opportunity.
  • You are forced to implement an automated process or bulk update to revert an MQL to unqualified/disqualified.
  • The CRM reports that the majority of MQLs are being actioned by BDRs - but there is literally no way they could possibly action that number of leads.
  • Your sales team is consistently reverting your MQLs back to marketing “nurture” so they don’t have to work on them.
  • Everyone thinks MQLs equals pipeline generation.
  • You have no way to consistently track how existing Contacts are interacting with your marketing content or events.
  • Sales tells you what kind of MQLs they will accept.
  • Your conversion rates are so low the volume overwhelms reports with bad data.
  • You don’t have a comprehensive view of the entire customer lifecycle built into your CRM.
  • Sales and Marketing has their own Ops people using different systems with different data (no single source of truth).
  • The same words (MQL, SQL, revenue, funnel, pipeline, sales process, onboarding) mean different things to different departments.
  • Sales and Marketing team members go to different conferences to learn about a different software tools that aren’t integrated.
  • There’s not a consistent definition of your lead's ICP.
  • You’re constantly asking, “should we sell to this person?” every time you look at a new lead (meaning you don’t actually believe in or consistently use your ICP)
  • Marketing, Sales, Product and Customer Success are all sending different communications to the same customer multiple times per month without strategic coordination.
  • Nobody at the company can seem to agree on how you’re going to hit your growth targets.
  • The better marketing becomes at creating leads, the more sales drops the ball on converting them into revenue.
  • The word "Qualified" means different things to Sales, Business Development, and Marketing.


Been There. Done That.

MQL Hell is a painful and often demoralizing experience for every part of the team involved in your Go-To-Market process - from Marketing to Sales to the Executive Board Room. It breaks the trust between Marketing and Sales and poisons communication so they stop learning how to work better together. The divide gets larger, and your pipeline sees the consequences: fewer deals, less revenue.

If you’re in MQL Hell, we totally get it. In fact, we’ve gone into even greater depth about it here.

But we can also help you climb out. We have developed a straightforward blueprint for understanding your personas, story, and goals. We also have a tool we have developed for finding and tracking your key persona interactions (KPI’s) and mapping them into your CRM for greater visibility and better reporting. We even have a tried and true method for better integrating HubSpot with Salesforce

You don’t have to stay in purgatory. We love having deeper conversations about MQL Hell, so leave a comment or share with us any unique signs you have found that let you know you've experienced your own special version of MQL Hell. We’ve helped others escape - so can you.