More Isn’t Always Better: Why Lead Funnel Efficiency Matters

More Isn’t Always Better: Why Lead Funnel Efficiency Matters

As B2B marketers, it can seem like we’re in a constant grind to deliver more: more content, more campaigns, more leads, etc. It’s overwhelming, and it’s too easy to get into a rhythm of just churning through things – capture names, score the leads, pass to sales, check the box. Rinse and repeat.

Being in this cycle can make it difficult to take stock of the work we’re doing. But it’s so important – and often hard – to take that step back and ask the hard questions: Are the things we’re doing actually hitting the mark? Are we making a real difference for the business? Marketing resources are finite, so we need to be spending time on the things that really matter.

What Does This Have to Do With Lead Funnel Efficiency?

Our lead funnels are a kind of truth teller for marketing – what’s really coming out of all that content you’re creating? Is it the kinds of prospects your sales team cares about? Or is it a bit more random?

If you think it’s the latter, you may be wasting some of your time and effort. Lead funnel efficiency is the measure of how effectively you are qualifying the leads that you are sending over to sales.

Basically, it helps you determine if the prospects you’re calling “marketing qualified” are truly sales ready, or if you are spending time chasing down leads that aren’t really quite right.

The reality is that sometimes we cast a very wide net when it comes to leads. Afterall, more leads means more deals, right? Turns out that it’s not always the case. More means marketing can point to an impressively high number of leads generated, but it creates a self-defeating cycle.

Marketing thinks it’s doing a great job, sales follows up on some bad leads and eventually stops calling on MQLs, marketing thinks sales isn’t doing their job, sales says the leads they are getting are a waste of time, and so on.

The Quest for Super MQLs

What sales is actually asking you is for more of those highly qualified leads that they can accelerate through the funnel – your so-called “super” MQLs.  A super MQL is a lead that meets all the target criteria that make for a good sales target:

  • They have signaled some level of interest in what it is that your company does.
  • They are engaged with you on a deeper level than merely “opening an email”
  • They have a need that your company can solve  
  • They have money to solve this problem, or can get money in the future

If you prioritize these leads, you’ll end up with better conversion rates, healthier pipeline, and a much happier sales team.

So how do you find those super MQLs? Take a look at a traditional lead funnel below:



To get to the lead funnel efficiency percentage, you need to complete a simple equation:


In our example table, of the 100 MQLs, only three were ready to talk to sales right now. Seven more were in your sweet spot, but the timing was off. These 10 are considered your super MQLs – 10% of your total funnel. This is 10% lead funnel efficiency, meaning you’re spending your marketing resources and budget on leads that only hit the mark for sales 10% of the time – not great!

Instead, how about a model where you’re focusing your time on those great leads – the super MQLs – that your sales team gets excited about. Sure, this may mean you send across fewer total MQLs, but you’ll be sending over better qualified targets. Below is an example of what a funnel optimized for super MQLs looks like.



While in this model, you’re sending over fewer MQLs, they are way more targeted, and way more likely to convert. Suddenly, you have a much more optimized lead funnel, all the result of targeting your efforts on the prospects that are good fits for your business.

So try it out yourself – grab data on a sample of 100 MQLs you’ve recently passed on to your sales team, including MQL status and details. Dig in and take a look at your leads – are any of them bad data? Any of them not interested, etc.? Completing this exercise and the efficiency equation will give you a benchmark to work from.

Now What?

Once you’ve taken a look at your current lead funnel model, you can figure out where your inefficiencies are and make appropriate changes. Some other steps you can take to get better qualified leads into your funnel:

  1. Spend some time with your sales team. Ask them what attributes really make an MQL awesome. What qualifying questions are they asking? What is it about certain leads that makes them a good target?
  2. Identify the top, tangible attributes and elevate them in your content and campaigns. Work these into your nurturing and scoring process.
  3. Attack inefficiency ruthlessly. Look at every lead that went to sales that shouldn’t have, and then design a way to get them out of the flow.





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