How do you define a sales qualified opportunity?

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SVP of Partner & Business Development in Software, 201 - 500 employees
For me, it always falls back to BANT (or whatever your internal preferred framework is). They have budget, authority, need, timing.  For our sales team it often comes down to the fact that they're "actively looking" to solve some problem and actually have the budget to solve it.
CEO in Software, Self-employed
In our business the N from BANT is most important. Based on that - if the lead agrees to spend time for a live demo (demo date booked) this means qualified. Usually if there is a N (Need) then with todays team based buying processes they have a need identified and therefore the budget and authority to drive this forward. Trying to find the C level can be a waste of time.

We found that the former buying process, the top down approach, where an authority made decisions has been replaced by a team oriented approach. Trying to speak with a C level before calling a lead qualified can be a waste of time - which may be specific in our domain and to our product (SaaS software in drug discovery), we are somewhat a bit in a product driven sales process. 
Chief Revenue Officer in Banking, 11 - 50 employees
Leading cybersecurity sales teams, I've always defined an SQL by four simple criteria; Pain, Timeline, Decision Maker, and Budget. Pain drives the timeline. If it hurts enough, there is a decision maker involved. And, with established, quantifiable pain, timeline, and decision maker involvement, the budget will follow. Be honest the pain piece of the equation. Weak pain drivers are deal killers. 

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