In part 1 of this blog series, we looked at reasons why organizations need to end their focus on individual MQLs (marketing qualified leads) as the focus of their revenue process. This blog looks at more reasons why the transformation away from MQLs is necessary.

An MQL-Centric Process Intentionally Hides Information From Sales

Because an MQL is focused on an individual, that means that the process view between marketing, the RDR (revenue development rep), and sales is limited in size to a single person: An individual engages and reaches the scoring threshold; the RDR gets that single MQL and qualifies that person; and the RDR passes that single individual (often attached to an RDR-created opportunity) to sales. But here’s where things really collapse! As marketing organizations mature, they leverage new processes and technologies to increase attempts to engage with multiple people in the account and buying group. Marketing defines and markets to multiple personas in programs, all with the intent of driving broader engagement with multiple people in the account. As mentioned earlier, sales also understands the need to engage across the buying group. So the irony is that while marketing is driving engagement across multiple personas, and sales knows they need to embrace multiple people in the sales process, the view in the revenue process is still limited to a single person.

But it gets even worse. While a variety (and volume) of signals may exist, only the MQL flows through the process. And often, once an MQL is qualified and sent to sales, the flow of information closes. So even if a second person (or more) from the account continues to engage and reaches the scoring threshold, that second lead often is intentionally disqualified (or ignored) as a “duplicate lead.” The logic is that sales is “already working that account” and should only focus on new things. That second individual grinds to a halt in the process, even if they may be a champion or decision-maker, or even if that second lead is in the same account but interested in a different solution (meaning they represent a different opportunity). This issue is so pervasive (and so costly) that we’ve given it a name: the “Second Lead Syndrome.” The Second Lead Syndrome represents the biggest issue in lead-centric revenue processes today. Simply put, marketing is generating engagement (and spending budget) across a buying group today from both named and anonymous people. Understanding the breadth of the engagement would be valuable to sales, and yet an MQL-centric process intentionally hides this information from sales, wasting budget, elongating the sales cycle, and diminishing the value of marketing.

An MQL Focus Underrepresents Marketing’s Value

A major fallout from the focus on MQLs is an obsession with the related marketing sourcing metric. Marketing sourcing attempts to identify the percentage of revenue that resulted from marketing generating the related MQLs that led to this revenue. There are two major issues with this. First, having percentage of revenue sourced by MQLs as a primary metric dramatically underrepresents the true impact of marketing. This approach artificially inflates the value of one interaction with one individual and ignores the value of all other interactions that influence the process. As Brett Kahnke describes in his recent blog, underrepresenting marketing’s total value is often really bad for the CMO’s career. This is especially true when there are multiple interactions from multiple buying group members during the revenue process. Marketing should instead measure marketing influence, which provides a much more holistic view of the value that marketing delivers in terms of revenue.

Second, the measurement of the success of marketing programs and tactics is often based on their impact on marketing sourcing metrics. This often leads to a very limited view of what’s considered a successful program or tactic. The challenge is that marketing program and tactic success should have different goals beyond MQL acquisition, and program and tactic value (and ongoing use) should be based on a more holistic view across the buying group and buying decision process.

MQLs Are Often Viewed As A Distraction

In closing, the MQL falls short in delivering the value and insight needed by RDRs and sales in today’s revenue process. MQLs lack context about the account, buying group, and solution, which is all information critical to the RDR and sales. There’s little correlation between the MQL and an actual buying decision. There are many false positives in MQLs where no real need and active buying cycle exists. As a result, MQLs are often viewed as a low-value distraction ignored by both the RDR and sales. There’s a lack of trust on both MQL quality and RDR responsiveness. This lack of trust is catastrophic to the revenue process.

So what is the alternative to focusing on MQLs in the revenue process?

  • Read part 3 of this series to learn why a focus on marketing qualified accounts is also wrong and should never be adopted.
  • Read part 4 of this series to learn why marketing and sales should align to opportunities and buying groups.