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Why We Switched to Conversation-Qualified Leads (CQLs™)

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When we got rid of all of our lead capture forms at Drift, and started making a conscious effort to put customer experience back at the center of everything we were doing, we realized that the MQL was an imperfect metric.

Becoming an MQL hinges on, well — it depends. It’s different at every company, but MQLs are typically based on some combination of demographics, firmographics, and engagement.

A common offshoot of the MQL, the sales-qualified lead (SQL), is basically the same thing, only there are more boxes that need to be ticked in order for sales to consider a lead qualified.

Then came the product-qualified lead (PQL), which offered a promising alternative: Instead of forcing people to fill out forms in order to generate leads, why not focus on getting them to sign up for a free or freemium version of your product instead?

Ultimately, however, we found that MQLs, SQLs, and PQLs all suffered from the same two issues:

1) They were slow. They ignored the on-demand, real-time pace that buyers move at these days.

2) The substance behind why people were deciding to buy was missing from the equation. Lots of data points were being gathered, but none of them offered the customer insights we actually needed.

So we decided to abandon MQLs, SQLs, and PQLs in favor of a new type of lead:

The conversation-qualified lead, or CQL™.

But don’t worry: This isn’t just another metric that will drive a bigger wedge between marketing and sales.

This one will actually make things easier.

The CQL™ is a metric that both our marketers and salespeople here at Drift are rallying around.

Published in: Marketing

Why We Switched to Conversation-Qualified Leads (CQLs™)

  1. 1. Why We Switched CQLs to Conversation Qualified Leads
  2. 2. “The marketing-qualified lead is dead.” ^ That’s how Drift CEO, David Cancel, opened a presentation he gave last year.
  3. 3. His explanation: MQLs are holdovers from the early days of SaaS, back when companies put themselves ahead of their customers.
  4. 4. I mean, just look at the buying process we used to make people go through…
  5. 5. So after we decided to get rid of all of our lead capture forms at Drift, we realized that MQLs, SQLs, and PQLs were all imperfect metrics. And there were two key reasons why…
  6. 6. 1) MQLs, SQLs, and PQLs were too slow. They ignored the on-demand, real-time pace that buyers move at these days.
  7. 7. 2) The substance behind why people were deciding to buy was missing from the equation. Lots of data points were being gathered, but none of them offered the customer insights we actually needed.
  8. 8. So we decided to abandon MQLs, SQLs, and PQLs in favor of a new type of lead: The conversation-qualified lead, or CQL™.
  9. 9. What is a CQL?
  10. 10. MQL Marketing-Qualified Lead They took some action that shows they might be interested in buying. SQL Sales-Qualified Lead Sales has confirmed it: They’re interested in buying. PQL Product-Qualified Lead They tried our product? They must be interested in buying! CQL Conversation-Qualified Lead We talked to them: They told us why they’re interested in buying and what they’re trying to accomplish with our product.
  11. 11. A CQL™ is someone who has expressed intent to buy during a one-to-one conversation with either: A) an employee at your company, or B) an intelligent sales assistant (bot).
  12. 12. With both types of CQL™, we use live chat to track every conversation, so we can look back and see which leads end up booking meetings, becoming customers, etc.
  13. 13. In order to qualify leads using bots, we write sales scripts and have the bots ask the same questions our salespeople ask.
  14. 14. The benefit of using bots to generate CQLs? Bots can qualify leads and book demos 24/7, even when our sales reps are on vacation. Just qualified another lead. Just had a lead book a demo.
  15. 15. The CQL™ is a metric that our marketers and salespeople here at Drift are rallying around.
  16. 16. From our account executives (like Ally, see left), to our VP of Sales (Armen), to our Director of Marketing (Dave), everyone here is seeing how CQLs are transforming our sales process.
  17. 17. 3 Reasons Your Sales Team Will Love CQLs
  18. 18. 1) You’re creating a fastlane for your best leads. Not only does focusing on CQLs make the buying process simpler for your future customers, it also compresses your team’s sales cycle.
  19. 19. Leads that come in through chat tend to have a higher velocity. So you’re able to solve the problem or meet the needs of the request in real-time. Think in terms of somebody coming to a website, and having a question, and filling in a contact us form. And they’ll hear back in 24 hours, or two days … that problem might not be there anymore. If they’re able to initiate a conversation, so skip the form, and have a conversation in real-time, we’re seeing that move very quickly. -Chris Willis, CMO, Perfecto Mobile “ #NoForms
  20. 20. 2) Conversations > Forms Lead capture forms are cold and static. By investing in conversations instead, we’ve been able to learn more about our customers while simultaneously improving their experience.
  21. 21. We’ve gotten rid of traditional forms on our website for the reason that now we have so many other ways to have conversations with people. Capturing someone’s email address and relentlessly attacking them with nurturing campaigns doesn’t work anymore. -Tom Wentworth, CMO at RapidMiner “
  22. 22. 3) You can keep your same qualifying rules. Switching to CQLs doesn’t mean changing the way you work. You can keep all of your lead qualification rules exactly the same — now you’re just making them actionable.
  23. 23. Read the full story of why we switched to the CQL.
  24. 24. See why thousands of businesses are using Drift to generate CQLs and close deals faster.

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