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The new SQL has arrived, and yep, it’s product-led

Yes, another acronym to remember if you’re a SaaS business person. However, I promise this one is worth it.

Over the years we have seen the struggle between the MQL (marketing qualified lead) and the SQL (sales qualified lead).

As a former SaaS salesperson, early on in my career I largely saw the MQL as an unqualified suspect. Aka a waste of time.

I believe it was around 2008. I remember our marketing team using a tool called LeadLander, which gave us a bunch of company names that visited our website, the pages they visited, and how many page views they generated.

These would be dumped into Salesforce and we would start prospecting trying to figure out if these leads were qualified and who might have been interested in our product.

Then a few years later we started to see the concept of the ideal customer profile emerge alongside the explosion of technographic data which was fueled by the mass adoption of the cloud.

There were vendors like Datanyze (now ZoomInfo) and BuiltWith that told us what technologies a prospect was using.

This insight changed the game for us because we could now understand what tech stacks our product aligned best with.

We also learned the integrations we should prioritize and of course use all of this to more effectively market and sell to the most qualified targets.

For you folks out there that aren’t familiar with the idea of the ICP or ideal customer profile, it’s the composition of the company that has the highest propensity to buy your product at the highest price point, within the shortest period of time, and will experience the most value, for the longest period.

This also includes who within these companies are your ideal users, buyers, and influencers.

Today, in 2021 the product-led growth movement is alive and kicking. We now are deploying product experiences like free trials, freemium options, product tours, and micro-demos, in a way that we would have never fathomed in the past.

These experiences now provide us with the type of user-level data that only product & engineering teams historically had access to.

This data can include anything from the number of times a user logs in, to particular features being used, or even which users are inviting the most colleagues to their account.

By going product-led, you’ll now know what the magic moments are within your product that leads to the best conversion rates and most revenue.

And now sales teams are leveraging this data to understand the best prospects to engage, the best moments to engage them, and what to say.

This data is what we use to define our product-qualified lead.

The PQL gives you the best intent data available and it’s not hypothetical, it’s based on real product engagement.

During a recent podcast interview with Ramli John, Managing Director at ProductLed and Author of “Product-Led Onboarding”, he mentioned that it’s no longer about the MQL leading to SQLs.

He went on to suggest that today’s innovative lead qualification formula is:


I emphatically agreed! This is the new SQL and if you don’t integrate product-led into your overall company strategy, you’re leaving money on the table, operating at a disadvantage, and will eventually have to adapt or go home.