SAL vs SQL | Similarities and Differences


Sales and marketing teams have a lot in common. They’re both responsible for generating revenue and growth for their organizations. It’s important for them to distinguish between sales accepted leads (SAL) and sales qualified leads (SQL).

A SAL is a lead that has been reviewed and accepted as a good fit for a company’s products or services. For a lead to be considered a SAL, it must meet certain criteria that the sales team has determined. On the other hand, a SQL is a prospect who is ready and willing to buy from you.

This is just the superficial difference between the two. Now let’s take a closer look at the similarities and differences between SALs and SQLs.

Similarities and Differences between SALs and SQLs

Marketing teams use various methods to generate leads. These include, but are not limited to, online advertising, webinars, content marketing, and trade shows.

A SAL is generated when a lead that has been acquired through one of these marketing efforts meets the criteria that the sales team has established.

The criteria for a SAL can vary from organization to organization, but they typically include factors such as:

  • Budget
  • Authority
  • Need
  • Timeline
  • Location

Once a lead has been determined to be a SAL, it is passed on to the sales team. The sales team then works to turn the SAL into a SQL.

A SQL is generated when a SAL takes certain actions that indicate they are ready and willing to buy from you.

These actions can include requesting a demo or price quote, downloading a piece of content, or subscribing to a newsletter.

Similarities and Differences Between SALs & SQLs

What Comes First: SAL or SQL?

SALs come first in the sales process.

The marketing team works to generate a high volume of sales accepted leads, which are then passed on to the sales team.

The sales team then identifies which prospects are ready to buy (sales qualified leads) and begins the process of closing the sale.

What are the Similarities Between SALs and SQLs?

There are a few key similarities between SALs and SQLs. First, both types of leads fall under the broad marketing umbrella.

Second, both SALs and SQLs have the potential to turn into customers.

The goal of both the sales and marketing teams is to close deals and eventually generate revenue.

Third, both SALs and SQLs require nurturing. Turning a lead into a customer takes time, effort, and resources.

What are the Differences Between SALs and SQLs?

Point Of DifferenceSALSAQ
Level of engagementGeneralMore personal
Sales funnel stageTop of the funnelBottom of the funnel
Channels of engagementGeneralTailored
Identification criteriaDiffers in different companiesSpecific actions like cart abandonment
Lead scoringGeneral parametersSpecific parameters

1. Level of Engagement

A SAL is generally less engaged with your company than a SQL.

A SAL has shown some interest in your company, but they’re not yet ready to make a purchase.

They may require more information about your product or service at this stage.

You can think of a SAL as someone who is at the top of your sales funnel.

They are aware of your company and are interested in what you offer, but they need more information before they’re ready to buy.

A SQL is further along in the buyer’s journey and is actively considering your products or services.

They know what they want and are interested in learning more about how your product or service can solve their problem.

At this stage, the sales team can make calls, send emails, or even schedule in-person meetings to continue moving the SQL towards a purchase.

2. Sales Funnel Stage

As you may know, the sales process typically consists of several stages. These include:

  • Awareness
  • Interest
  • Desire
  • Action

A SAL is typically generated during the interest stage, while a SQL is generated during the desire or action stage.

The buyer considers their options in each phase and determines which product or service best fits their needs.

Top of the funnel (TOFU) strategies are typically used to generate leads during the awareness and interest stages.

These strategies are designed to reach a broad audience and generate interest in your product or service.

On the other hand, the bottom of the funnel (BOFU) techniques are used to generate leads during the desire and action stages.

These strategies target individuals who are ready to buy and provide them with the information they need to make a purchase.

That said, a sales accepted lead is at the TOFU, while a sales qualified lead is at the BOFU.

Sales Funnel Stages

3. Channels of Engagement

If you’re looking to generate more SALs, you’ll need to focus your efforts on channels that generate a high volume of leads.

These channels can include online advertising, webinars, and trade shows. The most suitable channels for SALs focus on general engagements.

These engagements can be in the form of an ad, webinar, or even a simple blog post.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to generate more SQLs, you should focus your efforts on channels that generate quality leads.

These channels can include content marketing and lead nurturing campaigns.

After a series of engagements, it is easy to know the channels you can use to engage your sales-qualified leads.

At this stage, the prospects might not take offense at receiving calls or emails from the sales team.

4. Identification Criteria

The process of identifying a SAL can vary from organization to organization. Here are some common criteria that are typically used to identify a SAL:

  • Budget: Can the prospect afford your product or service?
  • Need: Does the prospect need your product or service?
  • Timeline: Is the prospect ready to buy now, or are they considering a purchase in the future?
  • Location: Is the prospect located in an area that you serve?

These criteria are important because they help determine whether a prospect is ready to buy.

If a prospect doesn’t meet all of the criteria, they’re likely not ready to make a purchase, and a TOFU strategy would better serve them.

On the other hand, to identify SQLs, you can use the following criteria:

  • Cart abandonment: Did the prospect add your product to their cart but didn’t complete the purchase?
  • Product interest: Has the prospect expressed interest in a specific product or service?
  • Special downloads: Has the prospect downloaded any content from your website, such as manuals?

These criteria help determine whether a prospect is interested in buying your product or service.

If a prospect meets all of the criteria, they’re probably ready to make a purchase, and a BOFU strategy would better serve them.

5. Lead Scoring

Once you’ve identified a lead, you’ll need to score them to determine their likelihood of becoming a customer.

The criteria you use to score a lead will vary depending on your business and the products or services you sell.

However, some common factors, such as location, income, and job title, are typically used to score leads.

Lead scoring is important because it allows you to prioritize your leads. For example, let’s say you have a prospect that meets all of the criteria for a SQL.

However, they’re located in a country that you don’t serve.

You would likely score them lower than a potential customer that meets all of the criteria for a SQL and is located in a country you serve.

Lead Scoring

Key Takeaway

Lead qualification is an important part of the sales process.

By understanding the difference between SALs and SQLs, you can better determine which leads are ready to buy and which ones need more nurturing.

When it comes to lead qualification, SALs come first in the sales process.

SQLs are generated after the sales team has engaged with a lead and determined that they’re ready to buy.

Shailen Vandeyar

A proud Indian origin Kiwi who loves to do BJJ and play with his pet bunny when not taking a plunge into the vast ocean of funnel design, email marketing, copywriting, conversions, and customer retention.

Recent Posts