Industrial Marketing Blog

Lead generation for manufacturers

Lead Generation for Manufacturers: Understanding the Alphabet Soup

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[This post was originally published in December 2010. I have rewritten and updated it recently. Last Modified Date: 09/26/2022]

Lead generation for manufacturers is not easy, and it takes time and effort. A lead is a lead, right? Depends – are you in Marketing or in Sales? Industrial lead generation for sales is complicated.

On top of that, manufacturing marketers have to deal with and understand a bunch of acronyms—AIDA, ToFU, MoFu, BoFU, CTA, MQLs, SQLs, SAL, PPC, CTR, ROMI, etc., to name just a few. Are you familiar with all of them?

  • AIDA: Awareness, Interest, Desire, and Action
  • ToFU: Top of the funnel
  • MoFU: Middle of the funnel
  • BoFU: Bottom of the funnel
  • CTA: Call-to-action
  • MQLs: Marketing Qualified Leads
  • SQLs: Sales Qualified Leads
  • SAL: Sales Accepted Leads
  • PPC: Pay-per-click
  • CTR: Click-through rate
  • ROMI: Return-on-marketing-investment

Really, the list is endless.

The success of industrial lead generation depends on SAL

You know all about the problem of Sales and Marketing operating in separate silos. Sales always blames Marketing for generating “crappy” leads, and Marketing points fingers at Sales for not taking follow-up action.

SAL to the rescue!

Huh? What am I talking about – Sales Accepted Leads is the bridge between Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) and Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs). Clearly defining MQL, SAL and SQL are critical to the success of lead generation for manufacturers.

What are MQLs and SQLS?

A Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) is someone who has shown some interest and filled out a form with their basic contact information to download your content they believe is valuable. These are top-of-the-funnel (ToFU) leads.

A Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) is someone who has shown an interest in your product or service and not just in consuming your content. These prospects are further along in their buying journey. These are middle-of-the-funnel (MoFU) leads who may be ready to have a conversation with your sales team.

One of the biggest mistakes Marketing makes is they tend to hand off MQLs to Sales to qualify and close. However, marketing’s job doesn’t end with generating MQLs. There is a lot more work to be done.

What is the best way to generate good MQLs and nurture them into SQLS? The answer – Manufacturing Content Marketing for Industrial Lead Generation. I’m obviously biased, but plenty of independent research studies have shown this to be 100% true.

How SAL brings together Sales and Marketing

There is an essential step between MQLs and SQLs. I refer to it as SAL – Sales Accepted Lead; it bridges the gap between the two.

SAL cannot be subjective or arbitrary. Assigning a numeric score to qualified sales leads based on a predefined set of rules removes the subjectivity out of qualitative ranking like Hot, Warm, and Cold leads. Quantitative lead definitions reduce the friction between Sales and Marketing.

SAL for lead generation for manufacturers

SAL is a three-letter word that is the critical step in achieving Sales and Marketing alignment.

  • The two have to work together to come up with a unified definition of a qualified lead
  • Sales agrees to take follow-up action on these leads
  • Sales provides feedback to Marketing to refine these definitions and scores over time
  • Marketing must be willing to adjust scoring rules based on feedback from sales to refine lead scoring for optimal results (closed loop system)

Without SAL, Sales and Marketing will continue to point fingers at each other when things don’t go right

Marketing Automation for manufacturers

Scoring and grading leads manually or using a simple spreadsheet are time-consuming and prone to errors. Manufacturers should use Marketing Automation software to make the process a lot more efficient and accurate. There are many more benefits to using Marketing Automation.

I came across an excellent guide, “The Manufacturer’s Guide to Data-Driven Marketing Automation.” I suggest you download the free guide. (I’m not affiliated with the publisher).

The key takeaway is that you may be making a very costly mistake if you treat all your leads the same, put them in a common bucket, and toss them over to sales to qualify and close. Instead, you will need some form of SAL to maximize your ROI for lead generation for manufacturers.

Achinta Mitra

Achinta Mitra calls himself a “marketing engineer” because he combines his engineering education and an MBA with 35+ years of practical manufacturing and industrial marketing experience. You want an expert with an insider’s knowledge and an outsider’s objectivity who can point you in the right direction immediately. That's Achinta. He is the Founder of Tiecas, Inc., a manufacturing marketing agency in Houston, Texas. Read Achinta's story here.
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  1. This blog completely defines the topic. It has all the information required. For me, it was really helpful, and would love to share it further.

  2. Hello Achinta,

    You may know Marketo for marketing automation, but the company is increasingly focusing on the new field of Revenue Performance Management (RPM), which brings marketing and sales functions together under the common goal to accelerate revenue generation.

    This morning Marketo announced the immediate availability of the Spring 2011 version of its sales effectiveness solution, Marketo Sales Insight (MSI). A statement from Marketo’s Chief Revenue Officer Paul Albright puts the announcement in context:
    According to IDC, sales reps spend 45 percent of their time figuring out how to spend their time, instead of closing deals,” said Paul Albright, Chief Revenue Officer, Marketo. “With Marketo Sales Insight, we reduce this time to near zero – and fast! That’s why MSI has been such a hit with the market, as more than 80 percent of our customers have signed up for the product since we introduced it.”

    Details of new MSI features are described in the press release below. You’ll also find comments from Kevin Akeroyd, General Manager of customer Jigsaw.

    Please let me know if you have any questions or would like to get in touch with Marketo.


    Jen Howard
    Corporate Marketing Specialist

    901 Mariners Island Blvd Suite 200
    San Mateo, CA 94404 USA
    PHONE +1.650.240.4632
    TWITTER @hennypenny04

    Marketo Improves Sales Productivity with Marketo Sales Insight Update

    Latest Innovations Typically Improve Performance by Greater than 30 Percent Immediately

    San Mateo, CA, April 25, 2011 – Marketo, the fastest growing provider of Revenue Performance Management solutions that significantly increase marketing and sales success, today announced the immediate availability of the new Spring 2011 version of Marketo Sales Insight (MSI). The new capabilities extend the product’s proven ability to improve the effectiveness of a company’s sales organization.
    “It’s no secret that companies want to make their sales organizations more effective. According to IDC, sales reps spend 45 percent of their time figuring out how to spend their time, instead of closing deals,” said Paul Albright, Chief Revenue Officer, Marketo. “With Marketo Sales Insight, we reduce this time to near zero – and fast! That’s why MSI has been such a hit with the market, as more than 80 percent of our customers have signed up for the product since we introduced it. With Sales Insight’s new productivity features and improved visibility into the hottest leads and opportunities, we make it even easier for our customers’ sales teams to focus their time on revenue-generation. It’s gratifying to see an overwhelming customer response and then keep on introducing innovation.”

    Marketo Sales Insight, built natively on, the leading enterprise cloud computing platform, provides a company’s sales organization with timely and actionable insight to improve sales effectiveness by prioritizing the hottest leads and opportunities to close more business, faster. MSI gives sales reps Facebook-style status updates highlighting interesting moments for individual leads that indicate buying interest, such as recent Web activity, correspondence, or participation at an event. MSI is fully integrated with Salesforce Chatter and updates are easily accessed within Salesforce or from a desktop or mobile device.

    Kevin Akeroyd, General Manager of Jigsaw, said, “Marketo Sales Insight has enabled Jigsaw to significantly increase our sales productivity, while growing the size of our sales team.” Akeroyd went on to explain, “Marketo helps sales prioritize their activities by starting each day with a short list of the highest scored leads which results in higher lead-to-opportunity and close ratios.”
    The latest release of MSI includes improved features for individual sales reps, new features designed to facilitate collaboration for extended sales teams, and innovations to help sales managers understand the hottest sales opportunities across their territories.

    New: Custom Views and Filters Enable Team Collaboration
    Companies are increasingly turning to Marketo to drive all aspects of their revenue generation activities across multiple departments and regions. To facilitate greater collaboration across these groups, Marketo introduces Custom Views and Filters that extend visibility on the hottest leads for follow-up action. This industry-first capability allows any Salesforce user to see any list of “Best Bet” leads (scored as highest quality and most urgent) – even if that user does not own those leads. For example, a product sales rep and services sales rep can work together to drive cross-sell revenue on an ongoing basis.

    New: Manager Views
    The latest release also includes industry-first capabilities to help sales management drive greater focus and productivity for their teams. Managers can view an at-a-glance dashboard to see their sales teams’ lists of Best Bet leads. For example, a regional sales manager can actively monitor the hottest leads for each rep and see whether they’re following up appropriately.

    New: Hide Button for Best Bets
    As sales people increasingly use Marketo Sales Insight to manage their daily activity, they are looking for a higher degree of control over how MSI shows them their hottest leads. New features, including a single-click “hide” button gives sales reps the ability to work with MSI on their terms. Sales reps can use the hide button to put a lead at the bottom of their list without losing track of it, allowing them to maintain focus on the highest priority leads.

    About Marketo
    Marketo is the global leader in Revenue Performance Management. Marketo’s powerful yet easy-to-use marketing automation and sales effectiveness solutions transform how marketing and sales teams of all sizes work — and work together — to drive revenue performance and fuel business growth. The company’s proven technology, comprehensive services, and expert guidance are helping corporations to turn marketing from a cost center to a business-building revenue driver.
    Marketo has been recognized with the 2010 CODiE award for ”Best Marketing Solution,” the “Best Sales and Marketing 2.0 Solution” from SellingPower, and the “Best Marketing Automation Application” by Salesforce customers on the AppExchange. As of March 2011, more than 1000 enterprise and mid-market clients globally have adopted Marketo solutions. For more information, visit, or subscribe to Marketo’s award-winning blogs at

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