Product Qualified Leads (PQLs): Definition, Calculation, and Benefits

Product Qualified Leads (PQLs) differ from conventional lead-generation strategies by prioritizing user engagement with the product as a primary indicator of sales-readiness. Unlike Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) and Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs), PQLs are assessed based on their active interaction with the product, indicating a bigger likelihood of conversion. 


In this article, we explore the definition of PQLs and also take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of PQLs. We also give insight into how to identify, score, and calculate PQLs.  

What Is a Product Qualified Lead (PQL)?

A Product-Qualified Lead (PQL) is a lead (business or individual) who has tried your product firsthand through a limited-feature model or a free trial and has found meaningful value in its use. These leads have shown a high likelihood of becoming a paying customer based on their engagement with the product. This differentiates PQLs from MQLs, which are identified based on less-direct interactions like email opens or web-page visits. PQLs demonstrate their interest and potential value through direct interaction with the product, indicating they understand its features and are seriously considering its full benefits. This makes them highly valuable prospects for sales teams to focus on converting to full customers.

How to Calculate PQL?

Calculating PQLs involves tracking three key metrics that help you understand their impact on your business such as:

  1. Raw Number of PQLs: This is the total count of PQLs you gather over a specific period, typically measured weekly or monthly. This metric helps gauge potential revenue speed and the workload on your sales or customer-success teams. It also shows if changes in your product or customer-onboarding processes are having a positive effect.
  2. PQL Rate: Calculate the PQL rate by dividing the number of new sign-ups that achieve PQL status by the total number of new sign-ups within the same period. This rate helps evaluate the effectiveness of your activation process independent of total sign-up volume. A high PQL rate indicates a strong activation process and product value realization by new users.

PQL to Paid Conversion Rate: This rate is found by dividing the number of PQLs that convert to paying customers by the total number of PQLs. This metric is crucial as it indicates whether the perceived product value is convincing enough for PQLs to make a purchase. A very high conversion rate might suggest that your pricing could be too low, whereas a low rate could indicate issues with your product’s value proposition or pricing strategy.

How to Identify and Qualify Product Qualified Leads

Properly identifying and qualifying PQLs involves analyzing user behavior and engagement with your product. Here’s how you can identify and qualify these leads:

  1. Define Your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP): Understand your ideal customers. This involves specifying demographics, business size, industry, or any other relevant characteristics. This profile helps align your product with the needs and expectations of potential customers, making it easier to identify who would be considered a high-value PQL.
  2. Define Product-Usage Criteria: Define exactly what specific interactions or levels of engagement with your product indicate a strong potential for purchase. This involves setting clear, measurable criteria that categorize a user as a Product Qualified Lead. Consider including:

    Usage Frequency: Criteria based on how often a user engages with the product (daily, weekly, etc.).
    Feature Utilization: Identifying key features that, when used, significantly correlate with buying intent.
    Engagement Metrics: Looking at engagement depth, such as session duration or number of log-ins over a certain period.
    Critical Actions: Defining must-do actions within the product that signal readiness to purchase, such as using a trial version of a premium feature.
  3. Collect and Analyze Data: PQL identification is data-driven. Collect data from three main sources:

    Explicit Data: Information provided directly by the users such as: name, email, company size, and role during the sign-up process.
    Implicit Data: This includes enriched data points obtained through external sources or inferred from user actions, such as: company revenue, industry sector, or number of employees.
    Behavioral Data: Insights gathered from user interactions with your product, such as: feature usage, log-in frequency, session duration, and completion of key actions or milestones.

    Use analytics platforms like Mixpanel, Amplitude, or Google Analytics to track these interactions and derive actionable insights.
  4. Use Behavioral Data To Gauge Engagement: Behavioral data provides deep insights into how engaged a user is with your product. High engagement levels such as: frequent log-ins, extensive feature use, and achieving activation milestones often correlate with high product qualification.
  5. Set Activation Milestones: Define what constitutes an "activated" user in your context. Activation could mean different things depending on your product; for example, completing an onboarding process, using a key feature several times, or reaching certain usage thresholds. These milestones help you to recognize users who have found real value in your product.
  6. Implement a Scoring System: Develop a lead-scoring model that assigns points based on completing certain actions or reaching specified data points. This system helps assess quantitatively which users are most likely to convert into paying customers. This model might feature:
    Positive Scoring: Adding points for desirable actions such as frequent usage or engagement with key features.
    Negative Scoring: Subtracting points for negative indicators like prolonged inactivity.
    Automated Weight Adjustment: Utilizing algorithms to adjust the weight of different scoring factors based on their conversion efficacy.

    Focus on users who score above a certain threshold in your lead-scoring system. Segment these leads based on potential value, readiness to buy, or specific product interests.
  7. Analytical Tools and CRM Systems: Use analytics tools to continuously monitor how users interact with your product and move through the sales funnel. Look for patterns or common pathways that high-value customers follow and optimize the user journey accordingly to maximize conversion from PQLs. Also, if your resources allow it, integrate your analytics and lead-scoring setup with your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. This ensures that sales teams have real-time data on user behavior and that leads can be effectively tracked and segmented based on their scores.
  8. Continuous Criteria Refinement: Continuously refine your criteria and scoring model based on performance data to ensure you get a model that works well for you and your business. 

Benefits of Product Qualified Leads (PQL)

PQLs offer several benefits to businesses including:

  1. Higher Conversion Rates: PQLs have already interacted with the product and demonstrated an understanding of its value proposition. This makes them more likely to convert into paying customers compared to traditional leads.
  2. Efficient Resource Allocation: By focusing sales efforts on PQLs, resources are allocated more efficiently. Sales teams can prioritize leads that are more likely to convert, leading to higher ROI on sales and marketing efforts.
  3. Reduced Sales Cycle: Since PQLs are already familiar with the product, the sales cycle tends to be shorter. There's less need for extensive education or product demonstration, allowing for quicker decision-making and deal closure.
  4. Improved Customer Satisfaction: PQLs have experienced the product firsthand, which means they are more likely to be satisfied customers post-purchase. This can lead to higher customer retention rates and positive word-of-mouth referrals.
  5. Data-Driven Insights: Analyzing PQL behavior provides valuable insights into customer preferences, usage patterns, and pain points. This data can inform product development, marketing strategies, and overall business decisions.

Common Challenges in Managing Product Qualified Leads

Managing PQLs comes with its own set of challenges. These include:

  1. Defining PQL Criteria: One of the primary challenges is determining the specific criteria that qualify a lead as a PQL. Differentiating between engagement levels that indicate genuine interest and those that are merely superficial can be complex.
  2. Data Integration and Analysis: Integrating data from various sources and analyzing it effectively to identify PQLs requires robust data infrastructure and analytics capabilities. Ensuring data accuracy and relevance is essential for making informed decisions.

Best Practices for Nurturing Product Qualified Leads

Nurturing PQLs, as with any type of lead nurturing, requires a strategic approach to guide them through the sales funnel effectively. Here are some best practices for nurturing PQLs:

  1. Personalized Communication: Tailor your communication to the specific needs and interests of each PQL based on their behavior, preferences, and pain points. Use personalized emails, messages, and content to engage them at different stages of their buyer journey.
  2. Leverage Targeted Content: Develop targeted content tailored to the unique characteristics and interests of your buyer personas. Use a mix of content types, such as: blog posts, white papers, and case studies, to nurture leads throughout the buyer's journey.
  3. Provide Value-Added Content: Offer educational content, case studies, product demos, and resources that demonstrate the value of your product and address the challenges or goals of the PQL. Position yourself as a trusted advisor by providing valuable insights and solutions.
  4. Multi-Channel Lead Nurturing: Expand beyond email nurturing by incorporating various channels such as: social media, paid retargeting, and direct sales outreach. Utilize marketing-automation platforms to execute multi-channel lead-nurturing strategies efficiently.
  5. Timely Follow-Up: Respond promptly to PQL inquiries and actions to maintain momentum and keep them engaged. Implement automated follow-up sequences and reminders to ensure no opportunity is missed.
  6. Lead Scoring and Segmentation: Implement lead-scoring models to prioritize PQLs based on their level of engagement, buying intent, and fit with your ideal customer profile. Segment PQLs into different groups based on their characteristics and behaviors to deliver targeted and relevant messaging.
  7. Demonstrate Product Value: Showcase the specific features, benefits, and use cases of your product that are most relevant to each PQL. Offer product demonstrations, free trials, or limited-time promotions to allow them to experience the value firsthand.
  8. Sales and Marketing Alignment: Foster alignment between sales and marketing teams to enhance lead-nurturing efforts and improve customer-retention rates. Establish clear expectations, responsibilities, and goals through a sales and marketing service level agreement (SLA).
  9. Track and Analyze Engagement: Monitor PQL engagement metrics, such as email open rates, click-through rates, website visits, and content consumption, to assess their level of interest and readiness to purchase. Use analytics to identify trends, patterns, and areas for improvement in your nurturing efforts.
  10. Continuous Optimization: Continuously evaluate and optimize your nurturing campaigns based on performance data, feedback, and market insights. Test different messaging, offers, and tactics to identify what resonates best with your PQLs and drives conversions.

Measuring and Tracking Product Qualified Leads (PQL)

Listed below are some metrics you should track for PQLs:

  1. Product-Usage Frequency: Tracking how frequently users engage with the product provides insights into its value proposition and user satisfaction. Metrics such as: daily, weekly, or monthly active users help gauge the product's relevance and identify highly engaged PQLs.
  2. Feature Usage: Understanding which features are most used by PQLs enables personalized onboarding experiences and targeted feature development. Metrics like feature-specific monthly active users (MAUs) and feature adoption rates indicate user preferences and inform product-enhancement strategies.
  3. Time Spent on the Product: Measuring the average time spent per session on the product helps assess user engagement and product effectiveness. Contextualizing this metric with industry benchmarks and user feedback reveals opportunities to enhance usability and drive deeper user engagement.
  4. Onboarding Completion Rate: The percentage of PQLs who complete the onboarding process reflects the effectiveness of onboarding efforts in guiding users to activation. Improving the onboarding experience enhances trial-to-PQL conversion rates and accelerates product adoption.
  5. Time To Value (TTV): TTV measures the time it takes for PQLs to realize the value of the product, from initial onboarding to achieving meaningful outcomes. Minimizing TTV enhances user satisfaction and retention by delivering value quickly and efficiently.
  6. PQL to Paid Conversion Rate: This metric evaluates the percentage of PQLs who convert into paying customers, indicating the effectiveness of lead-nurturing efforts and product messaging. A high conversion rate signifies successful targeting of qualified leads and alignment between product value and customer needs.
  7. Account-level Usage: Particularly relevant in B2B contexts, account-level usage metrics assess the engagement and conversion likelihood of entire organizations. Activity scores based on weighted activities help identify decision-makers and advocates within target accounts, guiding sales and marketing strategies.


PQLs and MQLs differ in their readiness to purchase. PQLs are identified based on significant engagement with the product, such as feature usage and time spent on the platform, indicating a higher likelihood of conversion. On the other hand, MQLs are leads who have shown interest in the product through marketing efforts but may require further nurturing before making a purchase decision. 

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