9 Steps to Successfully Turn Sales Qualified Leads into Customers


Turning sales qualified leads (SQLs) into customers is a critical process for any business, especially in the competitive world of SaaS. 

SQLs are leads that have been vetted by your sales team and are deemed ready for direct sales follow-up. They have shown a clear interest in your product or service and meet the criteria to potentially become paying customers. 

In this guide, we’ll explore how to effectively turn sales qualified leads into customers with actionable strategies, examples, and relevant statistics.

What is a Sales Qualified Lead?

An SQL, or Sales Qualified Lead, is a prospect that has been identified and vetted by the sales team as having a high potential to become a customer. 

Unlike general leads or marketing qualified leads (MQLs), SQLs have shown clear buying signals and meet specific criteria that indicate they are ready for direct sales engagement. 

This qualification process typically involves evaluating the lead’s behavior, needs, and fit for the product.

Characteristics of a Sales Qualified Lead

  • High Engagement: SQLs have interacted with your marketing materials, such as attending webinars, downloading whitepapers, or participating in product demos.
  • Clear Interest: They have expressed explicit interest in your product or service, often through direct inquiries or significant website interactions.
  • Defined Need: SQLs have a specific need that your product can address, making them more likely to make a purchase decision.
  • Budget and Authority: They often have the budget and decision-making authority or influence within their organization to purchase your product.

Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) vs. Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)

It’s essential to distinguish between SQLs and MQLs:

MQLs are leads that have engaged with your marketing efforts and shown interest but are not yet ready for a direct sales approach. They need further nurturing to become SQLs.

SQLs, on the other hand, are deemed ready for a sales conversation due to their demonstrated interest and alignment with your product’s value proposition.


Consider a software company offering a project management tool. 

An MQL might be someone who downloads an eBook on project management best practices, while an SQL is someone who attends a product demo and requests pricing information.

#TCCRecommends: For those unfamiliar with MQLs, we have a comprehensive guide to understand them here

How to Turn Your Sales Qualified Leads into Customers?

1. Understand Your SQLs

Before you can convert SQLs into customers, it’s essential to understand who they are and why they are considered sales-qualified. 

This involves understanding their needs, pain points, and buying behavior.


  • Lead Scoring: Implement a lead scoring system to rank SQLs based on their level of interest and fit for your product.
  • Detailed Profiling: Collect detailed information about each SQL, including their business needs, decision-making process, and key stakeholders.


Use CRM tools like Salesforce or HubSpot to create detailed profiles of your SQLs, including their interaction history, company size, industry, and specific interests.

#TCCRecommends: You can ask these questions in your sales discovery calls for better lead profiling. 

2. Personalize Your Approach

Personalization is key to engaging SQLs effectively. Tailor your communications to address their specific needs and challenges.


  • Customized Emails: Send personalized emails that address the SQL’s specific pain points and how your product can solve them.
  • Tailored Content: Provide content that is relevant to their industry and stage in the buying process, such as case studies, whitepapers, or product demos.


If an SQL from a healthcare company shows interest, provide them with case studies of how your software has benefited other healthcare clients, along with specific features that address healthcare-related challenges.

A study by Epsilon found that 80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase when brands offer personalized experiences.

3. Provide Value at Every Touchpoint

Consistently delivering value through your interactions can build trust and demonstrate the potential benefits of your product.


  • Educational Content: Share valuable content that educates the SQL about your product and its benefits, such as webinars, blog posts, and guides.
  • Consultative Selling: Approach the sales process as a consultant rather than a salesperson, focusing on solving the SQL’s problems rather than just pushing for a sale.


Offer a free consultation or audit to help the SQL identify specific areas where your product can improve their operations or solve particular issues.

According to DemandGen Report, 96% of B2B buyers want content with more input from industry thought leaders.

4. Follow Up Strategically

Timely and strategic follow-ups are crucial for maintaining engagement and moving SQLs through the sales funnel.


  • Scheduled Follow-Ups: Use your CRM to schedule regular follow-ups based on the SQL’s engagement level and buying timeline.
  • Follow-Up Sequences: Implement automated follow-up sequences that nurture the lead with relevant information and reminders.


After a product demo, schedule a follow-up call within a week to address any questions the SQL might have and discuss next steps. Use automated email sequences to keep them engaged with additional resources.

InsideSales.com found that responding to a lead within five minutes increases the likelihood of qualifying the lead by 21 times.

#TCCRecommends: I (aka the follow up ninja) have penned some tried and tested sales follow up tips for you and your sales reps. 

5. Demonstrate Your Product’s Value

SQLs need to see tangible proof of how your product can benefit them. Demonstrations, trials, and case studies are effective ways to showcase your product’s value.


  • Product Demos: Conduct live or recorded demos tailored to the SQL’s specific use case.
  • Free Trials: Offer a free trial period to allow the SQL to experience the product firsthand.
  • Case Studies: Share case studies that highlight success stories relevant to the SQL’s industry and challenges.


Provide a personalized demo highlighting the features most relevant to the SQL’s business needs, followed by a free trial period to let them explore the product on their own.

Gartner suggests that by 2025, 80% of enterprise software providers are expected to adopt free trials or freemium products in their business models.

#TCCRecommends: If a free trial or demo confuses you, this read might help you out of your conundrum. 

6. Address Objections Proactively

Anticipate and address any objections or concerns that SQLs might have about your product. This can prevent potential roadblocks in the sales process.


  • Common Objections List: Prepare a list of common objections and effective responses.
  • Q&A Sessions: Offer Q&A sessions where SQLs can ask questions and get immediate answers.
  • Risk Mitigation: Provide guarantees or risk mitigations, such as money-back guarantees or minimal commitment contracts.


If cost is a common objection, demonstrate the ROI of your product with concrete numbers and offer flexible payment plans or discounts for long-term commitments.

According to the Sales Benchmark Index, 58% of prospects will be lost due to lack of value being demonstrated effectively.

7. Create a Sense of Urgency

Creating a sense of urgency can encourage SQLs to make a decision more quickly, moving them from consideration to action.


  • Limited-Time Offers: Provide special discounts or bonuses for a limited time.
  • Highlight Demand: Mention the high demand for your product or the limited availability of certain features or services.
  • Deadline Reminders: Use deadline reminders in follow-up emails to prompt action.


Offer a 10% discount on the annual subscription for sign-ups within the next two weeks, emphasizing the limited-time nature of the offer.

8. Leverage Social Proof

Social proof, such as testimonials and reviews, can build credibility and trust with SQLs, influencing their decision-making process.


  • Testimonials: Share testimonials from satisfied customers, especially those in similar industries or with similar challenges.
  • Reviews and Ratings: Highlight positive reviews and high ratings from reputable sources.
  • User Stories: Share detailed user stories that showcase how your product has solved specific problems for other clients.


Include testimonials and success stories in your follow-up emails, on your website, and during product demos to reinforce the value and reliability of your product.

According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family over any other type of advertising.

9. Close the Loop with Effective Follow-Through

Ensuring that the sales process is smooth and that there are no loose ends can help turn sales qualified leads into customers.


  • Clear Next Steps: Always outline clear next steps at the end of each interaction.
  • Contract Review: Assist with the contract review and signing process, making it as straightforward as possible.
  • Onboarding Support: Provide robust onboarding support to ensure a smooth transition from prospect to active customer.


After the SQL agrees to move forward, send a follow-up email with a detailed onboarding plan, including key dates, contacts, and resources.


Turning SQLs into customers requires a strategic approach that combines understanding your leads, personalizing your communications, providing consistent value, and following through effectively. 

By implementing these strategies and focusing on the needs and concerns of your SQLs, you can enhance your conversion rates and build lasting customer relationships. 

Remember, every interaction is an opportunity to build trust and demonstrate the unique value your product offers.