SQL Marketing | Top 5 Strategies

Daniel Threlfall

SQL marketing strategically goes after top tier leads — the ones who have expressed serious interest in buying and who are right on the verge of pulling the trigger. 

These are the leads that are at the bottom of your sales funnel and have demonstrated a strong intent to buy. 

They’re ready to roll and just need the right push to get over the hump. 

Here are the top five SQL marketing strategies for winning over these ultra qualified leads and getting them all in on your product. 

The Mindset Behind SQL Marketing 

First, it’s essential to understand the context of SQL marketing and exactly where these leads are at in the sales process.

Johanna Rivard of Marketing Insider Group does an excellent job of breaking down how someone goes from being a lead to an MQL…

…an MQL to an SQL…

…and finally, an SQL to a sales conversion. 

And that’s exactly what we’re focusing on here. 

As you can see, an SQL who’s ready for a sales conversion is far and away the most qualified of these three types of prospects. 

These prospects have done the following: 

  • Shown that they fit your target demographic profile
  • Expressed interest in your product
  • Indicated that they want you to contact them
  • Shown that they have specific questions that need answering
  • Identified a particular pain point
  • And so on

In other words, they’re not a run-of-the-mill lead who’s only lukewarm on your product. 

Nope, they’re the most serious of all leads and are ready to become valuable customers with the right convincing. 

And this is important to keep in mind when choosing specific SQL marketing strategies to use, which is exactly what I’m going to dive into right now. 

For a full breakdown on MQLs and SQLs, check out this previous Chili Piper post called MQL vs. SQL: What’s the Difference?

1. Offer a Live Demo

A live demo is arguably the most effective SQL marketing technique pound-for-pound  and is often just what the doctor ordered for getting a lead to take action. 

“There is almost nothing more powerful than a great product demonstration, says award-winning sales blogger and B2B expert, Geoffrey James. “When done correctly, a demo allows the customer to see and feel how things will be better if they buy (and worse if they don’t).”

Notice where a demo is positioned in the sales funnel.

It’s right near the bottom and is the perfect medium to connect the dots for SQLs and bring everything together. 

And according to research from Demodesk, the average conversion rates are from 20% to 50%.

That’s why I’m rating a live demo as the number one SQL marketing strategy. 

The key to having success with it (aside from obviously delivering an epic demo) is to 1) make it easy for an SQL to book a demo and 2) gather critical information during the sign up to give your rep a leg up during their interaction with the lead. 

On Chili Piper, for example, we have multiple CTAs on our homepage where SQLs can conveniently book a demo. 

Here’s one. 

Besides just asking for an email address whenever a lead signs up, we also ask for two key pieces of information — the CRM they’re currently using and the country/region they’re located in. 

As for delivering a jaw-dropping, electrifying demo that leaves leads begging to buy, check out this Chili Piper post on how to create the perfect product demo.

I also suggest looking over the data from this Gong study for additional guidance. 

2. Offer a Free Trial 

This is an SQL marketing strategy that we’ve only started using recently here at Chili Piper. 

But it’s already having an impact. 

And this is by no means an isolated incident, with the average B2B free trial conversion rate for monthly plans being just under 70%

Just put yourself in the shoes of your average SQL for a second. 

  • They’re already interested in your product
  • They suspect it’s capable of solving their primary pain point
  • They’re heavily considering choosing your product over competitors
  • They have a basic idea of the features it offers
  • They understand the benefits
  • They’d like to try out those features and see your product in action

What better way to persuade them to take the plunge than offering a free trial where they can get a feel for your product and see how awesome it is first hand without having to make a burdensome commitment?

This is absolutely perfect for leads that are “almost there” but still on the fence.

Here’s how we do it with Chili Piper. 

On the pricing page, leads quickly see our “Spicy” plan, which comes with a free 14-day trial. 

With the Spicy plan, users can do the following:

In terms of specific features, users can:

  • Create unlimited dynamic meeting templates
  • Book meetings using automated team signatures
  • Automatically book meetings in Google Calendar
  • Capture event details in Salesforce 
  • And so much more 

Once the 14-day free trial is up, the user can then decide whether or not they want to continue using the Spicy plan. 

Or, if they want even more amazing features like advanced routing, the Concierge form scheduler, and live routing, they can upgrade to the “Hot” plan

The key is to create an enticing offer that delivers a ton of practical value and clearly highlights exactly what a lead gets during a free trial. 

In other words, don’t make an SQL have to do too much digging to figure out what’s going on.

It’s also nice to provide an FAQs section so they can see how it works at a glance. 

And for tips on how to generate thousands of free trials, check out this video from growth marketer and entrepreneur Sujan Patel.

For a comprehensive overview of SaaS free trial best practices, this article from EBQ is helpful

This SQL marketing strategy is similar to offering a free trial.

But rather than letting a lead use your regular product for a limited time, you give them access to a limited version forever. 

This is another option we offer with Chili Piper where users can access the basic features like creating personal booking links, suggested times, and email and SMS reminders completely for free as long as they want.

This allows them to get their feet wet and learn all about Chili Piper’s capabilities. 

However, for the full enchilada, they’ll need to upgrade to either the Spicy or Hot plan. 

Offering a freemium version like this is the ultimate “foot in the door” technique where you give leads a glimpse of what your product has to offer without requiring them to make a major commitment. 

The key to being successful is ensuring that your product delivers and piques the interest of a user enough to the point that they want to unlock all of the features. 

This article by Derek Gleason of The Harvard Business Review is a great read if you’re considering this SQL marketing strategy.

4. Use Retargeting

Here’s the scenario.

You know for a fact that you have an SQL because they’ve checked all of the boxes in terms of showing buying signals.

However, you just weren’t quite able to convert them for whatever reason. 

Rather than letting them slip through fingers and accepting defeat, you can use retargeting, which “is a form of online advertising that can help you keep your brand in front of bounced traffic after they leave your website.”

Here’s a basic overview of how retargeting works.

Bear in mind that we’re talking about ultra high quality leads here that meet very specific criteria, but this paints a pretty clear picture of what takes place with this form of SQL marketing. 

The goal here is keep your brand in front of leads in the places they frequent. 

Let me give you an example.

Say an SQL spent a ton of time exploring the Chili Piper website. 

They visited it on multiple occasions, looked at the features, went over pricing, asked us questions, and so on. 

But up until this point, they still weren’t quite convinced to buy. 

By using retargeting, we could keep Chili Piper on their mind by appearing on key channels like Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn.  

So, if an SQL searched for “scheduling app” on Google, we could place an ad so that it’s the first thing they see for that keyword search. 


And when they’re browsing their Facebook feed, we could place an ad so this sponsored post appears. 

Just like that, Chili Piper would go from being in the back of their mind, potentially forgotten, straight back to on their radar. 

When done right, retargeting is super effective, with studies finding that it can boost conversions by as much as 150%

And here’s the kicker. On average, B2B campaigns drastically outperform B2C campaigns — by over 400% on conversions per impression. 

Often retargeting is just what the doctor ordered for SQL marketing and can give leads the extra little push they need to buy. 

For a 101 overview on retargeting and how to get started, I suggest reading this guide from Leadfeeder

5. Give Discounts to Select Leads

Let me start off by saying you probably don’t want to offer discounts to everyone. 

Bowery Capital, an early-stage venture capital firm, points out that this tends to translate into you “leaving money on the table and potentially poisoning your market.”

That said, offering discounts to the right leads — the ones who are right on the precipice of buying and who could wind up being incredibly valuable customers — can definitely make sense.

HubSpot, for instance, offers this discount for users with a high volume of marketing contacts, which lowers it from $890 per month to $800. 

And it’s ideal for those SQLs that love your product as a whole but are having a tough time coming to terms with the current pricing. 

In this situation, offering the right discount can serve as the perfect motivator to get them on board. 

It’s just a matter of knowing when offering a discount is the smart move. 

According to The Boston Consulting Group, the smartest 20% of businesses use a strategy called value-based discounting, which as the name implies, is built around providing a lead with a discount that correlates with their projected value.            

The more projected value expected, the higher the discount. 

Taking this individualized approach can often spark SQLs to follow through with the deal and prevent them from turning to a competitor who can offer a similar product at a slightly lower cost. 

For in-depth guidance on B2B discounts, this guide from The Boston Consulting Group is super helpful.                 

SQL Marketing FAQs

What is SQL marketing?

It involves marketing to ultra qualified leads who are at the bottom of the sales funnel — the ones who are ready and able to buy. 

How does it differ from MQL marketing?

MQL marketing involves going after leads that are further up in the sales funnel and still need nurturing.

MQLs have the potential to become SQLs later on, but they’re not as high priority.

SQLs on the other hand and pretty much ready to go. 

They just need a bit more convincing and motivation to get them to take action. 

What are the top five SQL marketing strategies?

  1. Offer a live demo
  2. Offer a free trial
  3. Offer a freemium version of your product
  4. Use retargeting
  5. Give discounts to select leads

Striking While the Iron is Sizzling Hot

SQL marketing requires a vastly different approach than marketing to other leads at earlier stages of the sales funnel. 

The goal here isn’t to nurture leads and familiarize them with your brand.

That’s likely already been done. 

It’s to do everything within your power to reaffirm why your product is the right one and move them toward an educated buying decision. 

Using one or more of the SQL marketing strategies listed here should help you strike while the iron is hot and give SQLs the push they need to buy. 

Looking for a vetted lead qualification, routing, and scheduling platform to book meetings with leads when they’re most engaged?

Chili Piper’s meeting automation tool is free — giving you the high-octane power you need to rapidly and strategically convert leads.

Sign up for free

About the author
Daniel Threlfall

I help SaaS and online businesses drive viral organic website traffic to double their organic traffic and revenue in 6-12 months.

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