MQL, SAL, and SQL: The Three Types of Leads You Need to Know


If you are in the field of marketing or sales, you may have heard of the terms MQL, SAL, and SQL. But what do they mean and how do they relate to the sales funnel? In this article, we will explain the definitions and differences of these three types of leads, how you can know which is which, and how they can help you optimize your sales process.

The Sales Funnel

The sales funnel is a way of visualizing the journey of a potential customer from the first contact to purchase. It usually consists of four stages: awareness, interest, decision making, and action. At each stage, the number of prospects usually decreases as they move closer to becoming customers. Understanding your sales funnel can help you increase conversion rates and close deals faster.

Sales and marketing teams have different responsibilities to help move customers through the funnel. This is why we categorize leads as marketing qualified leads (MQLs), sales accepted leads (SALs), or sales qualified leads (SQLs).

The Three Types of Leads

1. Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)

MQL stands for marketing qualified lead. This is a lead that has shown some interest in your product or service but is not ready to buy yet. For example, they may have downloaded an ebook, signed up for a newsletter, or attended a webinar.  

These leads are typically at the top of the sales funnel, where they are still in the awareness or consideration stage. MQLs are nurtured by the marketing team with more content and offers until they are ready to move to the next stage.

2. Sales Accepted Lead (SAL)

SAL stands for sales accepted lead. This is a lead that has been qualified by the marketing team and passed on to the sales team for further action. A SAL will meet certain criteria that the sales team has set, such as budget, authority, need, timeline, and location.

A SAL is not necessarily a sales qualified lead (SQL), which means that the lead has a high probability of becoming a customer. A sales accepted lead is just a potential opportunity, still near the top of the sales funnel, that needs more nurturing and follow-up from the sales team.

3. Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)

SQL stands for sales qualified lead. This is a lead that has expressed a clear intent to buy your product or service and has met some criteria that qualify them as a potential customer. For example, they may have requested a demo, filled out a contact form, or asked for a quote. 

These leads are typically further down the sales funnel, where they are in the decision stage. The goal of the sales team is to convert SQLs into customers and generate revenue for the company.

Using Lead Scoring to Categorize Leads

Lead scoring is a method to classify leads into MQLs, SALs, and SQLs based on their readiness to buy from you. You can assign points to leads based on their actions and attributes. For instance, a lead can earn points for visiting your website, downloading your resources, or clicking your emails. The more points a lead has, the more likely they are to move from MQL to SAL to SQL. By examining your leads’ behavior and profile, you can prioritize them effectively.


As you can see, MQLs, SALs, and SALs are different stages of leads that correspond to different stages of the sales funnel. 

  • Marketing qualified leads (MQLs) have shown interest in a product or service based on marketing activities. 
  • Sales accepted leads (SALs) have been verified by the sales team and entered into the sales pipeline.
  • Sales qualified leads (SQLs) have expressed a clear intent to buy and are ready to talk to a salesperson. 

By understanding the differences and similarities between these three types of leads, your sales and marketing teams can work together more effectively and increase your conversion rates and revenue.

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