Turning Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) into Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs)

Turning Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) into Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs)

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At Thrive we use marketing automation to nurture customers (whether candidates or clients) through the sales funnel, identify those who are exhibiting ‘buyer’s intent’ and deliver a ‘lead’ for consultant one-to-one follow up. We’ve worked on hundreds of automation campaigns across a variety of platforms – from Bullhorn Automation to Force24 and every tech stack and CRM combination in between. We’re passionate about the power of automation to deliver growth and sustainable returns when it comes to marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and sales qualified leads (SQLs). But we’ve found that it’s often not clear how exactly marketing automations can be used to drive those MQL to SQL conversions.

Two questions we’re often asked by clients are:

  1. Why haven’t we been able to make marketing automation work for us in the past?
  2. And how can we take those key MQLs and convert them into job orders, candidate registrations or sales?

Why Haven’t We Been Able to Make Marketing Automation Work for Us in the Past?

The answer to the first question might surprise you – it’s probably not down to a lack of marketing knowledge or experience on the part of your in-house marketer! Instead, its most likely due to a combination of factors:

  • Automation Skills Gap
    No matter how skilled your in-house marketer is, they may not understand just how automation fits into your wider marketing and business strategy. So, how can you tell if your marketer ‘gets it’? Ask yourself if they have the right skills to execute an email campaign. Do they understand optimisation, deliverability best practice and engagement tactics?
  • Misguided Focus
    Not every automation is going to help you meet your goals. Do you know which automations are going to drive growth and which aren’t? Many businesses begin their automations without any thought to what they’re trying to solve. Instead, your focus needs to be on how automation can help you meet your business goals and resolve the challenges you face.
  • Email Not Integrated into Your Business Development or Operations
    So many businesses treat email automation as a ‘newsletter’ without any thought to how this kind of marketing can function as part of the sales funnel or the wider candidate or client experience. Technology has the power to automate key aspects of your business development, providing touchpoints throughout the candidate or client life cycle and keeping contacts warm. However, this requires a thoughtful and strategy-led approach that considers automation as a productivity, revenue and profitability-driver.
  • Lack of Buy-In
    Other departments like sales and operations have the potential to derail the success of your marketing automation, either through a lack of buy-in, or because they are stuck in an outdated mindset. Do the other areas of your business know about and understand the role automations can play in marketing?
  • Expecting Technology to Solve the Problem
    While technology has the potential to revolutionise your marketing, you still need to have the basics in place. At the end of the day automations aren’t a quick fix if you don’t have the underlying strategy, brand and USP underpinning your marketing efforts. After all, bad marketing is bad marketing if it’s one-to-one or one-to-many.It’s also unfair to expect your tech partners to support the marketing work you do. Automation providers are a great source of advice and in-depth knowledge of the technical side of their tools, but they aren’t marketers nor recruitment experts! They aren’t there to drive strategy or understand what methods are going to move the needle for your business.
  • Not Having a Developed Sales Process or Culture
    Until recently, recruiters have not had to do a lot of outbound sales. They were blessed with an abundance of job orders and could cherry pick those with the greatest fill probability. On top of that, a remote-first world today means that business and telephone culture has changed, making cold calling less effective and consultants less BD-savvy.Developing a sales culture means providing the training and tools for consultants to understand how to drive an MQL to SQL conversion, from understanding the sales funnel and customers’ pain points, to having the right word tracks to build trust, influence and close potential sales pitches and conversations.

When it comes down to it, to achieve success with marketing automation, to create those MQL to SQL conversions, you need a technical and commercially-driven marketer, a robust tech stack and a sales team who can pick up and run with those leads, winning job orders and converting them into placements. At Thrive we keep up to date with the leading marketing automation tools and trends which means that we can recommend the right platform for your tech stack and legacy systems.

How Can We Turn Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) into Job Orders?

This is the big question! To answer it lets first define exactly what we mean by MQLs and SQLs and show how they fit in a marketing automation strategy.

An MQL comes from customer data that has been identified as having the potential to become a sale based on their interactions with your marketing activities such as email automation sequences. MQLs have shown an interest in your product or services – an intent to buy — and they are primed for direct contact with your sales team. This is generally determined by lead scoring, where their engagements are scored and aggregated, identifying those that are ‘warm’.

Once MQLs reach this point in an automation sequence they are passed over to your sales team, who can evaluate if they are ready for direct engagement. This could include an assessment on the company, hiring manager and/or role, the likelihood that you could successfully fill the role and/or the amount of competition, especially in contingent recruitment. Once the sales team has qualified the lead as having potential to close, they have become an MQL to SQL conversion.

Now your consultants and sales team can contact them with personalised information and help guide them through the final part of the sales process, transforming them into those all-important job orders and mandates.

Marketing Automations that Really Work. That’s the Thrive Difference.

Marketing automation has huge potential for transforming your sales funnel. Crucially what it does is provide you with touchpoints along the various stages of the buying process to connect with customers, nurturing them and warming them up ready for one-to-one contact with a recruitment consultant.

In doing so, marketing automation creates a sales pipeline that is always on, giving you evergreen MQL to SQL conversions. And as new contacts are added so your MQLs are constantly updating and providing you with new SQLs to follow up on as you go. Of course, the final conversion, that of SQL into job order is up to you, but if you have a robust and active sales culture, marketing automations free up your consultants to take advantage of those warm contacts.

At Thrive we bring our knowledge of marketing automation best practice alongside a deep understanding of the latest tech and trends, and we use those to develop an automation strategy that unlocks genuine business opportunity and ROI.


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