Sales Accepted Leads: Disqualification Reasons

Jay Gaines, SiriusDecisions’ Group Director for Demand, has called sales accepted leads (SALs) the most important (but most overlooked) step in the demand creation process. So, what reasons do organizations commonly use to disqualify SALs from becoming sales qualified leads? To answer this question, I have listed the most common SAL disqualification reasons used in effective lead management processes. Please note that disqualification can only occur after qualification attempts have been made and that the number of reasons for disqualification should be limited, to ensure usability for sales. In addition, no values should be included that are not actionable for marketing to trigger active recycled nurturing or refine the lead management process.

SAL disqualification reasons you might consider using:

Unable to reach. The sales rep has attempted to engage the lead (e.g. left several messages), but has been unsuccessful. This option should only be selected if the rep has met the terms of the service-level agreement (SLA) for number of attempts over a specified period of time.

Inaccurate data. The lead’s data was found to be inaccurate (e.g. phone number did not work). This reason should be determined very early (per first-touch parameters in the SLA). If a significant percentage of leads are disqualified for this reason, consider modifying the process to verify contact information before passing a lead to sales as a marketing qualified lead.

No interest/need. The lead is not interested or has no need for your organization’s offering.

No budget. The lead does not have budget to purchase your organization’s offering.

No fit. There is a lack of fit between your offering and the lead’s requirements. When this option is selected, a conditional field should be triggered that captures the reason for the lack of fit. This data can be used later by product marketing to drive future product enhancements and positioning.

Not ready to buy within X months. The lead’s timeframe to purchase is beyond the point at which the sales rep is expected to engage. When this option is selected, the lead should be entered into a nurturing program that will automatically task the rep to re-engage with the lead.

No authority. The lead does not have purchase authority and is not considered to be the internal champion.

Other (reason not listed). The lead is disqualified by the receiving agent, but the reason does not fit one of the categories listed above. An example of this would be a lead “already engaged by another sales rep” or a lead whose organization “already owns the offering.” Both scenarios occur in organizations that lack rigor in lead tagging and/or lead assignment. If these occur frequently, add one or both as SAL disqualification reasons. When “other” is selected, the sales rep should be requested to identify the disqualification reason.

About the Author

Jay Famico is Practice Director, Technology at SiriusDecisions. He is a thought leader focused on helping companies gain maximum value from their investments in marketing programs and technology. Follow Jay on Twitter @JayFamico.


  • Dan McDade, 18th December 2012 at 9:46 am


    Jay: Having heard you speak at the last conference I think you have the chance to be a real star in our industry. Having said that, I am extremely disappointed about this SAL blog. Budget and time frame are driven by authority and need. Disqualifying on the basis of the lack of a specific budget and time frame essentially throws away perfectly viable deals -in fact, some of the best ones. You might as well tell readers to wait until someone else has locked up the business and then go waste time being column fodder in an evaluation that has already been won by a more nimble competitor (who DID NOT wait for budget and time frame to be established). Authority and need will naturally transition into the process for budgeting and need, specifically, will drive time frame.
    They key to the success of using the SAL designation is not to make sure a lead is a SQL prior to sales acceptance. That is why the demand waterfall has a fall-off between MQL and SAL AND SAL and SQL. The biggest problem today is that sales reps do not have any accountability for leads (in most organizations) AND because sales has been conditioned to expect poor quality leads from marketing, most leads generated by marketing (as many as 95% of them) are completely wasted – most of them going into dark holes (called purgatory by your company).
    I am afraid that your blog will mislead readers and I think that is a real shame. Let me suggest this. When companies are implementing the demand waterfall, they put a judicial branch in place between marketing (MQL’s) and sales (SAL’s) and any lead that is rejected by sales (not accepted) is reviewed by this judicial branch. Eventually the acceptance rate will be optimized (closer to 85% than 66.6%) and communication will improve – albeit that it will be a real pain in the tail in the early stages to establish rules and make things happen. Thanks for an important post. At the very least it should generate some good conversations.

  • John Ledoux, 22nd December 2012 at 7:04 pm


    Great post Jay. Much needed for those who are really trying to hone proper data collection requirements for down-funnel success.

    My biggest question here is, given that this field acts as a feedback mechanism, and therefore accuracy is critical if it is to positively impact subsequent action, what is the MO behind documenting multiple reasons for SAL bounces? For example, when the “lead” lacks multiple BANT requirements?


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  • Josh Rosenberg, 2nd January 2013 at 2:33 pm


    First of all I want to say, love the post. As a marketer the more we know why our sales people disqualify leads that come in from our campaigns the better. It enables us to hone the content/messaging more and is a great way to help keep sales/marketing on the same page. We have found that one of the common problems with Disqualified Reasons in is that storing this data on the Lead or Contact record has no relationship whatsoever to the campaign – how do you know the outcome of an engagement tied to a specific campaign?

    Check out our blog post response to this, Status Values and Disqualifying Records within Salesforce (, to learn more about how we solve this problem in and more.

  • Jay Famico, 3rd January 2013 at 8:06 am


    Hi John,

    That’s a great question. The simple truth is that the vast majority of b-to-b organizations don’t capture the reason for the SAL disqualification. This hurts marketing’s ability to understand how it can refine its targeting efforts and sales management’s ability to report on and govern the lead qualification process.

    For organizations that do capture the reason for disqualification (a practice we strongly recommend), about 90 percent have sales select the primary disqualification reason. This is often done to minimize the additional work steps requested of sales resources and also to make it clear what treatment (e.g. recycled nurturing program) the lead should receive.

    Organizations that enable multiple disqualification reasons are usually those that have a more rigorous lead management process in place. Disqualification reasons are prioritized (to ensure the lead receives the appropriate treatment) and typically limited to the top two or three reasons; numbers four, five, etc. are often scarcely populated.

  • Jay Famico, 3rd January 2013 at 8:07 am


    Hi Dan,

    I agree with your point. Not all organizations can (or should) qualify lead level to full BANT (in our terminology, lead level five), given their target market or demand type. It may be more advantageous to pass a less qualified lead (e.g. one that is the right role and/or level in a targeted vertical) to sales.

    This blog post focuses on the reasons sales may use to disqualify leads that they have accepted (according to the organization’s lead management SLA). As well as capturing lead disqualification reasons, it is important to capture lead rejection reasons (why sales rejects a marketing qualified lead [MQL]) before working it. I have an upcoming blog post that discusses this topic. I have also updated my post “Sales Accepted Leads: Disqualification Reasons” to make clearer that disqualification can only occur after qualification attempts have been made.

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