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MQLs, PQLs, SQLs–how does a modern conversion funnel work?

Marketing Revenue Sales

Operators used to think about *the* conversion funnel: you would move from awareness to consideration to conversion.

Then SaaS came around and it was still about that, but also retention and expansion and advocacy. It would be pretty linear, you would move from being Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) into a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) into being a customer within the purview of Success as a function.

Pretty straightforward right?

Except now Product Qualified Leads (PQL) are a thing… so, ugh, where do they go in the conversion funnel? Do they come before MQLs? After them? Do they replace MQLs? Are they something that should exist in parallel to them? How does one turn into the other? If you’ve been thinking that it’s all very confusing, you’re not alone. 

Here’s the thing tho: that is actually the wrong question, tied to an old-school way of thinking.

The reality is that customers don’t care about which repository their data sits in, or where their interactions with you are recorded, or which team within the organization is responsible for reacting to them.

So instead of perpetuating a siloed organizational-centric view that creates friction by default, what about having a system that takes elements from sales and marketing and product and success and finance all the time, to activate the right reaction on the right customer at the right moment based on the right datapoint?

Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

You would have expected that in 2022 this approach would be the golden standard, and yet very few businesses behave this way.