As PPC marketers, it is easy to think that lead gen and B2B are the same.  B2B vs B2C can seem similar, especially in the lead gen arena, but typically there are still some key differences to buying a consumer service vs a business product or service.

Some simple examples are:

  • Consumers typically don’t get offered product or industry related content
  • Leads are typically lower in the funnel – a customer is requesting a quote, information or service contract (less lead nurture)

B2B PPC requires a different type of strategy and thinking. This is due to B2B processes being slower with longer sales cycles and more steps to complete the full sales/buying cycle. With that, PPC also has to be slower, more methodical and look further than the initial lead to optimize towards results.

To optimize properly you need to track past the initial lead. Find out what the business’ marketing objective is. Some, it is strictly getting an MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead); typically the first qualified lead status, but others want to see SQLs (Sales Qualified Lead) or Opportunities/Closed-Won/Lost – which would be the final step and a prospect is in the decision phase (opportunity) and is either becoming a customer (closed won) or decided on a competitor product/service (closed lost). In PPC, we can track this and optimize accordingly by just understanding the lead flow, where the leads come from and the details surround those leads.

In this post, we are focused on understanding the lead flow and what each step means, so that, as a PPC manager, you can begin thinking about the larger conversion or lead and be able to talk and ask question surrounding how clients look at their leads to give them better insights.

B2B Lead Flow


This is the initial contact by a potential customer.

This could have been done through:

  • Lead Form (no content)
  • Gated Content
  • Demo request (if no other touch has been made)


MQL = Marketing Qualified Lead

Marketing qualified means that the lead has met the requirements set by the business to move into the lead flow and continue marketing to that user.

  • Typically, MQLs are either turned into SQLs or go into the marketing nurture phase through email marketing, PPC remarketing or other opportunities from the marketing team.


SQL = Sales Qualified Lead

Sales qualified means they have met the requirements to fit into a sales prospect to follow-up via the sales team/initiatives.

  • This means a sales team may start to email or call the prospect directly to set up time for a demo or sales call to discuss the product or service in greater detail.


Opportunities have made it past the sales process and into the negotiation/closing stages

  • The SQL is now ready to buy a product or service
  • Sales has set up a RFP, direct quote, contract or other buying documents for review
  • Consumer makes final buying decision

Closed Won/Lost

Closed means that the lead is no longer in the cycle. This can be for two reasons:

  • Opportunity Won – now a customer
  • Opportunity Lost – Did not become a customer due to;
    • Price, contract, or other reasons

Each business looks at each of these steps differently, so it is good to talk with them about each of these steps and understand how they talk about them and use them in their lead cycle. From there, use this information to inform your PPC efforts and optimize towards those business-related goals.