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MQL vs SAL: Knowing the Difference and When to Convert

Feb 23, 2024
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Having clear definitions for MQL vs SAL categories improves efficiency and generates more revenue over time.

Marketing qualified and sales accepted leads provide vital insights into the ways each departments guides customers through the funnel

Understanding a customer’s journey from marketing qualified to sales accepted leads is essential for businesses looking to improve efficiency and ROI. In this article, we will define and compare the MQL vs SAL, highlight their significance for businesses, and explore how they differ from other types of leads.

Read more in The Marketer's Guide to Sales Accepted Leads.

What Are MQLs?

Marketing qualified leads (MQLs) are leads who have shown interest in a company's products or services through various marketing efforts, such as filling out a form, downloading a whitepaper, or attending a webinar. These leads also match consumer profiles that reflect a target audience or otherwise show a high likelihood of conversion.

Why Do MQLs Matter?

MQLs are essential in the sales and marketing funnel as they show interest in a company's products or services. These leads have the best potential of becoming credible consumers, making them ideal candidates for further nurturing along the sales funnel.

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What Are SALs?

Sales accepted leads (SAL) are MQLs that the sales team has accepted from the marketing team. These are the candidates who sales representatives believe deserve special focus and attention. SALs that undergo an additional level of nurturing and qualification are sales qualified leads (SQLs) that are likely to convert.  

Why Do SALs Matter?

SALs contribute to the efficiency of the sales process by ensuring that sales teams only focus on leads that have been vetted and are more likely to convert. This efficiency leads to increased revenue and improved ROI as sales efforts are concentrated on high-quality leads.

Additionally, SALs play a vital role in aligning sales and marketing efforts. By defining and agreeing upon what constitutes a sales-accepted lead, sales and marketing teams can work more effectively together, resulting in a smoother handover process and more effective lead nurturing. These transitions also reduce the time spent identifying SQLs who are almost ready to make a purchase.

Lastly, prioritizing SALs also facilitates better customer relationships, as sales teams can focus on engaging with leads who are genuinely interested in the product or service. This targeted approach leads to a more personalized and effective sales process, ultimately resulting in happier customers.


The distinction between MQL vs SAL roles may seem light, but they are vital for efficient businesses. By clearly defining what makes an MQL, SAL, or SQL, sales and marketing teams can tailor content and resources for each stage of the purchasing process. By identifying where leads are in the funnel, businesses can provide the right information and support to guide them through the buyer's journey.

MQLs and SALs often require different types of information and materials to move them closer to a purchasing decision. Where MQLs might benefit from blog posts, white papers, and informational content, SALs often respond to targeted messaging that addresses their specific pain points and needs.

What Makes SALs Convert?

A consumer who is ready to make a purchase will often exhibit specific behaviors and actions. One clear sign is when they start to narrow down their choices and compare different options. This can include researching different brands, reading reviews, and asking for recommendations. As they become more focused on specific products or services, this indicates that they are closer to making a decision.

Consumers who are ready to buy may also show signs of increased engagement, such as asking detailed questions about the product or service, seeking out information on pricing and promotions, and looking for ways to test or try out the item before purchasing. They may also show a willingness to commit to a purchase by asking about warranty and return policies, as well as delivery options.

Another signal of readiness to make a purchase is when a consumer starts to show a sense of urgency, such as asking about availability, limited-time offers, or upcoming sales. This demonstrates that they are actively considering the purchase and are more likely to take the plunge and make the final decision. Overall, when a consumer starts to exhibit these behaviors, it is a strong indication that they are ready to make a purchase.

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