Why PQLs Are the New MQLs in SaaS?

Updated on November 1, 2021

Have you ever wondered how many of the people who enter into your marketing funnel will actually qualify as leads? Your marketing efforts may bring plenty of traffic to your site, but how many of the website visitors who download your content are there to research a specific subject, rather than having no intention of making a purchase? On the other hand, just because someone ignores your webinar or the content you sent, doesn’t necessarily mean that they are not interested in using your services.


Are MQLs still the best options?

For a long time, Marketing Qualified Leads, i.e. MQLs, represented an important term in B2B marketing, used to identify when a prospect has moved far down the marketing funnel to demonstrate a purchase intent. But according to a survey conducted by Geckoboard:


only 13% of the marketing qualified leads become sales qualified. Only 6% out of those that seem “sales ready” will convert into customers.


Fortunately, there is another way – a framework that generates active and engaged leads that require less effort to close. This is when Product Qualified Leads (PQL) takes the stand – a new qualification criteria used to identify a lead that has signed up to use a free trial of your software firsthand. By taking this action, the lead shows an even greater chance of making a purchase intent based on how they have interacted with the actual product through various touch points.


Why you should focus on PQLs

  • Identify when leads become sales-ready with bigger accuracy
  • See how users engage with your product
  • Identify actions that show if users have explored the product and received enough value that makes them ready for a sales conversation
  • Find leads that are much easier to turn into customers


This shows that the best indicator that someone is strongly interested in purchasing your software is if they are actively using it. According to a report drafted by venture capitalist and blogger, Tomasz Tunguz:


Product Qualified Leads convert on average from 25 to 30%.


This number once again confirms why the product channel is becoming the main communication channel and a key part of the marketing strategy for SaaS companies.


For this reason, companies create Free Trial journeys, designed for users to check by themselves how your software works. The concept is simple—if your customer doesn’t enjoy their free trial experience, they won’t come back to purchase your solution. This approach is useful because it helps users learn your product, overcome common obstacles and reach “aha” moments.


Sales.Rocks is one of the SaaS companies that skip the MQLs process, and focus on driving prospects towards trying their products instead. The logic is that by using a Freemium model, prospects will move down their customer acquisition process faster. At Sales.Rocks we strongly believe that PQLs are a key metric, and model for companies to go forward, by encouraging the “try-before-you-buy” approach.


For example, the Sales.Rocks Contact Search module offers an introductory, time-limited service experience helping users to find value in the service before making a serious commitment to it. When signing up for the Freemium version, the user receives 20 credits that can be used in a period of 30 days. Users can try the key filters this module has to offer in order to reach your desired audience. Note that one credit applies to one full data point search.


Completing a software signup process in the Contact Search module requires a visitor to sign up to the Sales.Rocks platform by:


  1. Logging into the platform
  2. Clicking on the Try Freemium button


No matter the option they choose, the user needs to provide an existing primary email address. After they fill the empty fields on the landing page, they have to go into their inbox and follow a link to confirm their email address, and then finish the sign in.


Our experience has shown that when we have leads trailing our software, they are not just at the price comparison stage of purchasing, but rather, they are finding value in our services, and are ready to take the next step.


Product Qualified Leads are the way forward

The cost to acquire a new customer can be unreasonably high. A PQL mindset can save you time and money by better identifying qualified leads for your sales team. Prospects using a Freemium version of your software are already customers, so put them at the center of your marketing flywheel. If you can give people a small taste of what your business can offer (at minimal cost), you will have a much easier time convincing them that it is worth their money.

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