From Cheating to Success: The Journey to Transparent MQL Reporting
As started my carrer as a Salesforce administrator in a small tech startup in Paris. Turns out, as I was the only one in this small company implementing processes in Salesforce to be able to measure and improve KPIs such as leads, Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL), I was the only one able to report on it confidently.
In this post, I’ll explain how I realized that our Marketing team was cheating on their variable metric, the MQL by month.
The Marketing Qualified Leads process
The Marketing team’s goal was to generate new MQLs for the Sales team. The internal definition of an MQL was a completed form on our website. The person that filled the questionnaire had to work in a company that fit the ideal customer profile. Thus, the Marketing team had to check the company profile before passing the lead to the Sales team, as an MQL. That’s why we call it a Marketing Qualified Lead by the way.
The Marketing team had an MQL target, let’s say 100 a month, and they tracked them in a Google Document. As we wanted to optimize the Marketing team’s performance, we tried to measure metrics such as:
- The time to process a lead
- The time to process an MQL
- The lead to MQL ratio
- The MQL to SQL ratio
- The SQL to Opportunity ratio
- The MQL cost
- The MQL ROI
Apparently, the Google Document couldn’t measure such metrics, and that’s why I had to implement a better process. I won’t detail the process, but it involved a process builder to get information from Pardot to Salesforce and custom fields and record types to be able to measure these KPIs listed above.
The outcome of automating the MQL process
As I had to win the Marketing team’s confidence, we compared their numbers and mine the first month. It appeared that my automated process was much more reliable and time efficient, as the Marketing intern didn’t have to maintain the Google Sheet anymore.
At the end of the first month, I listed something like 120 MQLs, and I was glad they crushed their target. However, the CMO listed 100 MQLs and didn’t count the MQLs generated at the end of the month. I asked about the Marketing compensation plan and figured out that it wasn’t in the Marketing team interests to overachieve their MQL target.
In the end, having me running the numbers highlighted that the Marketing team sandbagged MQLs and that we had to redesign the Marketing compensation plan. Maybe a tiered compensation plan was a better option. Indeed, having an MQL backlog is bad for business. Leads have to go through a process as fast as possible. Studies show that sales representatives are much more likely to sell something when they contact the lead within the hour. If they wait one or several days, the lead will cool down. Thus, implementing this process enabled us to stop bad behaviors and increase the Marketing team performance.