This document provides some context for the Lead Process Flow template (login required and access to Eloqua Insiders). The typical funnel stages include: Suspect, Prospect, Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL), Sales Accepted Lead (SAL), Sales Qualified Opportunity (SQO) and Customer. As a lead moves through these stages of the buying process there are some recommendations on how to configure your CRM for the best results. This document outlines these best practices. Feel free to add your comments.




Suspect to Prospect

The conversion of a Suspect to Prospect (sometimes called Inquiry) occurs when a suspect raises their hand  and responds to a campaign. You can setup a rule in Eloqua to adjust the funnel stage based on certain types of activity. As a best practice, not all Prospects should be passed to the CRM unless they have reached the MQL status. That said, many organizations will send over these leads to their CRM and use Lead Scoring as a way of prioritizing which leads should be worked on first. It's important to differentiate a lead in the CRM either by using a funnel stage field or by stamping a lead as an MQL.


Prospect to Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)

A Prospect becomes an MQL typically after it matches a certain lead scoring criteria that has been agreed upon by marketing and sales. At times, leads at this stage may be passed to a tele-qualification team for further qualification before being passed on to sales. Once leads reach this threshold within Eloqua they should be passed to the CRM and have their funnel stage field changed to MQL. This is an automatic rule that can be setup in Eloqua or your CRM. Some organizations also date stamp fields in the CRM to date stamp a lead when it reaches MQL status. This helps track how long a lead has been in this status.

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MQL to Sales Accepted Lead (SAL)

Converting an MQL to an SAL occurs as sales "work" the leads that are passed on to them. Again, at this stage, it may be a telequalification team that is doing this follow up. Sales verbally (through a phone conversation) determines the validity of the lead and their desire to move forward in the buying cycle. Sales will make a a decision - either convert to an SAL or reject the lead.  This is NOT an automatic action. A simple change by the rep in the lead status field from "new" to "working" can indicate that a lead now has an SAL status. Many organizations will convert a lead to a contact and have an opportunity created with a stage of "Lead Accepted (SAL)" with a pipeline / forecast of 0%. A contact should also be added to the opportunity as well. A lead that has been given a status of "rejected" (or something similar) should be assigned a reason code (such as remarket, no budget, not ready, not qualified, etc.) and should be passed back to marketing for additional nurturing based on the reason code. In the example below, the "Lead Disposition" field contains the rejected reason code. This may mean Eloqua looks for a certain lead status and reason code and automatically pulls the contact into a lead nurturing campaign.


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SAL to Sales Qualified Opportunity (SQO)

When sales makes a decision to move the lead forward, it typically involves changing the opportunity stage and/or assigning a pipeline / forecast to this individual. This is NOT an automatic action and something that must be done by a sales person. Sales should define the different opportunity stages that compose the sales qualified opportunity stage (for example: Discovery/Needs Analysis, Qualification/Capability Discussion). Leads that stall at this stage may be assigned a "lost" opportunity status with a specific reason code.

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Please note: Leads will fall out of the funnel at any stage (not move forward). Marketing must create multiple re-engagement campaigns depending on the reason a lead fell out of a stage. The concept "no lead left behind" must be kept in mind or you have left yourself open to a competitor winning this business.


SQO to Closed Won

This occurs when a lead becomes a customer and/or a customer purchases another product/service. This will be reflected on the opportunity.


Additional resources: