how to determine lead typeA lead is someone who has shown some interest in a business’s product or service offerings. Leads are categorized by what stage of the buyer’s journey and sales lifecycle they are in currently. Defining lead type will help you determine how best to turn them into a customer based on their level of interest and communication with your company. 

Marketing Qualified Leads

A marketing qualified lead (MQL) is someone who has interacted with your marketing materials but hasn’t quite reached the point where they’re ready to speak to your sales team. MQLs will have taken actions that show they have a higher chance of becoming a customer than your average visitor, such as downloading an offer or subscribing to your blog. Even multiple or frequent site visits could indicate that someone is marketing qualified. 

Essentially, an MQL is a contact that has proven to be more inclined to make a purchase than your typical lead. It’s important to note that marketing qualified leads require lead nurturing tactics using relevant, informative content to move them further along the sales funnel

Sales Qualified Leads

A sales qualified lead (SQL) is a contact that has displayed a clear interest in making a purchase. This could mean that someone has filled out a contact form or reached out to your business directly. SQLs not only understand their problems and pain points but know what the solution is. At this point, they are simply deciding where to go to for this solution. 

A lead doesn’t necessarily have to make direct contact to be considered sales qualified, though. If an MQL continues to interact with your marketing resources as you nurture them, they may be sales-ready. It’s ultimately up to both your sales and marketing departments to assess the level of interest of a lead and determine whether they’re ready to be handed off to sales.


An opportunity is a contact who has communicated with your sales department and indicated that they are considering becoming a customer. Sales opportunities will have been deemed a good fit for your products or services and meet your company’s criteria for clients. Once a prospect has turned into an opportunity, it’s time to use all the information you’ve gathered from prior conversations and what marketing materials they’ve interacted with to deliver a pitch and, ideally, close the deal. 

It’s important to know where a prospect lies in the sales cycle so you can tailor your outreach to where they are and increase your chances of making a sale. Reaching out too soon could scare a lead away, whereas waiting too long may result in loss of interest. After you’ve categorized a lead, it’s key to get the timing right in your marketing and sales efforts to increase their effectiveness. 

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