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One of the most important steps in lead management involves defining the terms. This is because in many customer situations, the term ‘lead’ is not viewed in the same way. Due to the different objectives regarding the term ‘lead’, the various areas that are involved spend a lot of time in discussions, which in turn lead to dissatisfaction and are often not resolved at all or are resolved too late.

What does Marketing say... and what does Sales say?

From the perspective of Marketing, a lead starts at a much lower level.. Making contact for the first time by signing up for a newsletter may already be regarded as a lead. However, Marketing also takes into account that a lead can reach different states along the customer journey. From a Sales perspective, however, a lead is much more than a simple contact. After all, so much information is already available that this can be best used by Sales – with minimum effort – to turn the contact quickly into a sales opportunity. Both areas therefore speak of a ‘lead’, however, usually at different points along the customer journey. In order to avoid these conflicts early on in projects, it is important to achieve a common understanding at the beginning of a project.

Lead management cannot be described with just one term. It is really a process that stretches from generation to qualification and results in a specific sales opportunity.

Glossary along the funnel...

In the lead management process, a lead can be regarded as the carrier medium. It is a contact record, for example, an e-mail address, a name or a telephone number, and can be enriched with further information throughout the process.

It passes through several states that are described below as follows:

The Marketing Generated Lead (MGL for short) is an unqualified contact. This could be a subscription for a newsletter, for example.

The Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL for short) is a contact who has more than a vague interest in the content or product. An MGL is developed into an MQL by addressing the MGL in a targeted and personalised manner. The following key figures are often used for measuring:

Level of Interest describes the intensity of customer interest in the content, product or service.

Level of Qualification refers to the orientation of the buying persona – for example, the position, the company or the turnover of the company.

Measurement of the respective criteria is customer-specific and must be worked on in joint workshops. An example is a contact who has downloaded a product-specific white paper.

Once Marketing has generated an MQL, it is handed over to Sales. The criteria specified by Marketing for handing over an MQL to Sales usually require a definite intention to purchase to have been identified for the contact.

The lead is forwarded – in keeping with the correct routing – to Sales and then to a team or an employee there. If Sales accepts the lead and is able to further process the contact with the information provided, a Sales Accepted Lead (SAL for short) is created. This handover is a frequent point of discussion between Marketing and Sales, in particular as regards the quality of the data.

Sales qualifies the lead in terms of its own particular interests in order to convert it into a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL for short). This also represents the transition from lead to opportunity management – to ultimately lead the interested partly to make a purchase.

For the sake of completeness, I now provide a rough description of Lead Nurturing and Lead Grading – all the previously named phases are accompanied by these two important components.

Lead nurturing includes all measures to provide a contact with the right information at the right time in order to lead them to a make a purchase. Here, lead scoring is used to identify the level of interest based on their interactions.

Lead grading focuses on whether the contact matches the buying persona of the company. This often requires the manual or even automatic enrichment of information.

Then we move on to the SAP CX

After defining the terms and processes, these processes are mapped to the SAP CX landscape. The assumption is that SAP Sales Cloud is used for pre-sales processes and SAP Marketing Cloud is used for B2B marketing and that they are connected to a variety of channels, such as shops, websites, LinkedIn and more.

SAP Marketing Cloud comprises functions and processes that tend to be assigned to the marketing area. Marketing automation is used to generate and qualify leads. This includes, in particular, automated lead processing activities for obtaining MGLs and MQLs. Manual enrichment is also possible, but not explicitly provided for.

SAP Sales Cloud also includes functions and processes for lead management. The main difference is that it is limited to manual activities for the lead. This means that the lead is now sufficiently automatically qualified and ready for manual post-qualification – if necessary. In the first step, this involves deciding whether the lead is to be included in SAP Sales Cloud. Only with the acceptance of a contact person and company is the lead considered to be a prospective customer. Afterwards, the LinkedIn Sales Navigator or other research options can be used for further qualification. It also makes sense to use a qualification based on a questionnaire. Depending on the answers, the lead is declared as cold, warm or hot. Once the lead has reached the SQL state, it can be converted into a sales opportunity.

The exact time of handing over the lead

A key question that arises during processing concerns when exactly the lead is forwarded from Marketing to Sales (from MQL to SAL). There are several options here:

A) Sales is responsible as soon as the lead is transferred from SAP Sales Cloud to SAP Marketing Cloud.

B) Marketing performs a manual post-qualification of the automatically generated lead in SAP Sales Cloud in order to subsequently pass it on to Sales.

This also depends on the respective organisation: For example, is each lead post-qualified first by a separate team over the phone? Does this function belong to Marketing or Sales?


Leads are basically a good thing for a company. But which lead is the one that prompts Sales to act? As you can see, in practice, many questions arise that must at least be clearly defined before introducing lead management. Every company is different, so this task is essential to ensure productive cooperation between Marketing and Sales. I recommend finding a common definition as early on as possible.

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Picture Patrick Meurer

Author Patrick Meurer

Patrick Meurer heads the Competence Centers SAP CX at adesso Frankfurt.

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