What Is A Lead In Sales?

Table of Contents

A sales lead can be a person or business interested in the products or services you provide.

A sales lead is a company or individual who has the potential to become a paying consumer. Leads are prospects at the earliest stage of becoming a customer.

Leads are people who have expressed interest in goods or services by performing some action, like clicking on a link, filling out a form, or providing their social media handle.

Becoming a lead is the first step in the sales process. At a subsequent stage, leads become prospective clients, hence the term ‘prospects.’

The process of lead creation and generation (nurturing) entails that either: a) the prospective lead contacts you, and shows interest in your business OR b) you initiate contact with the prospective business or person to start a dialogue.

As a marketer, you must understand that a lead has not attained the status of a prospect. Therefore, you have to skew your marketing activities to suit them.

There is no blanket marketing approach for sales leads and prospects.

Overall, the goal should be to progress a sales lead through the pipeline to become a sales prospect—it’s about aligning and working together with sales and marketing.

However, generating leads in the first place is often the hardest part, no matter what lead management process you follow.

Why Is Lead Generation Important?

Generating sales leads is an important part of every company’s sales process.

Finding promising leads and converting them into paying customers is necessary for a company, ensuring their continued success and profit.

A company’s lead generation efforts and its approach to dealing with leads can significantly affect its success in the marketplace.

Most organizations try to establish effective practices, spanning the lead generation, qualification, and distribution processes.

If you are interested in sales leads and how they factor into the sales process, you will need to know what they are and how companies find them.

Leads Are Different For Every Company

Depending on the organization, the term “lead” may vary.

For some companies, a “lead” is a contact already determined to be a prospective customer. In contrast, others consider a “lead” to be any sales contact.

But what remains the same across definitions is that a lead will potentially become a future client.

Therefore, sales teams are responsible for converting a maximum amount of leads to maintain a reasonable conversion rate.

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Where Do Companies Attract Leads?

Generating leads via the internet is the most effective method in today’s society.

Finding leads online involves offering internet users the opportunity to interact with marketing or advertising content.

A company’s marketing department is typically responsible for lead generation. Pursuing and closing leads usually falls to the company’s sales department.

For example, an IT vendor or channel partner promotes its offerings at an industry trade show, hoping to attract the attention of qualified buyers attending the exhibit.

The goal of facilitating these interactions is for the lead to provide the company with their contact information.

Once the lead has given the company their email address or phone number, the sales team can begin using direct marketing techniques to convert the lead into a customer.

The 3 Types of Leads

Sales leads can be separated into specific categories depending on their level of interaction with a product.

The more information a lead has about a product, the more likely they will become a customer. Here are three common types of sales leads:

Cold Leads

Cold leads are individuals or companies who know nothing or almost nothing about your product.

They may not have expressed any specific interest in your product yet. However, they still could be an excellent fit as a consumer.

Warm Leads

A warm lead may indicate a need for a product but no established budget or time frame to make the purchase.

Some marketers and sales reps use the BANT system, which stands for budget, authority, need, and time frame, to categorize leads as cold, warm, and hot.

Hot Leads

Hot leads might be consumers who found a company through an internet search or received a friend’s recommendation.

They have conducted independent research and decided to purchase on their own.

Other hot leads may have originally been cold leads which were effectively converted by the sales and marketing teams.

Hot leads are typically those who have initiated contact with a company or responded well to direct marketing efforts.

For example, a prospect that has indicated an immediate need for a service offering, a budget range for implementing the service, and an implementation time frame, would likely be classified as a hot lead.

Sales Lead Management Process

Sales lead management focuses on cultivating individual leads, which populate a company’s sales pipeline.

Successful lead generation activities will generate sales leads of varying quality and urgency.

To maximize the business potential of those leads, a company can develop a lead management process, sometimes referred to as lead-to-revenue management, which involves methods and systems for capturing, tracking, and distributing leads to sales reps for closing.

Companies may automate sales lead management, scoring, and nurturing through customer relationship management ( CRM ) and marketing automation systems.

The marketing department is typically responsible for lead scoring. Evaluating and ranking leads according to where the potential customers stand in the purchase funnel, or sales funnel.

The sales funnel, also described as the buyer’s journey or sales cycle, begins with the buyer’s earliest awareness of a product or service and culminates in a sale.

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Leads vs. Prospects

The difference between a lead and a prospect lies in demonstrated intent to buy. Sales leads might be a good fit for your business—but they might not.

After speaking to a lead, you may find that they don’t need your solution or don’t have the funding to invest in it.

Sales prospects are marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) or sales-qualified leads (SQLs) identified as ideal customers for your company and would consider making a purchase.

Prospects need your solution; they’re also ready to listen and ready to buy. You need to persuade them to do business with you

Sales And Marketing Alignment

Companies with aligned sales and marketing generated 208% more revenue from marketing.

So, as a marketer, you should not think about just generating leads, but about generating high-quality leads.

And as a salesperson, you should share constant feedback with the marketing team, about the quality of leads.

The teams working together (sales and marketing) must agree on what a lead is. And then work towards generating them.

This description that you agree on is your ideal customer persona.

What Is Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing approaches, such as inbound marketing, focus on appealing to sales leads through company-generated online content.

Companies use various marketing methods to generate sales leads, such as direct response marketing, advertising, networking, outbound sales calls, email marketing, social media campaigns, and internet marketing.

Create A Buyer's Journey

To experience positive results from content marketing efforts, you need to create a customer journey within your content.

Take prospective buyers on a journey that steadily increases their interest in your product or service. Start with top-of-funnel blog posts built for search engine optimization.

Use call to action (CTAs) and internal links to direct readers to middle-of-funnel posts introducing your product.

What Are Sales Qualified Leads?

This is a basic lead, but they are also known as sales-qualified leads— leads that have been qualified and even profiled by your sales team —an SQL.

These leads have often been checked and verified by one of your sales teams.

They ascertain whether they have a genuine need for your product or service and determine whether the lead is ready to be contacted by a sales representative to close the deal.

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What Are Marketing Qualified Leads?

Compared with sales-qualified leads ( SQLs ), which have indicated a high level of purchase intent, MQLs may require additional information about the product or service from the marketing team.

What Are Information Qualified Leads?

An information-qualified lead is a potential customer who self-reported qualifying information to a marketing department, usually through a form.

Customer Referral System

Another effective type method for sales lead generation is a customer referral system.

To use this method, businesses provide incentives for existing customers to refer the product to their friends, family, and coworkers.

For example, a company might promise their customers $15 in store credit if they can convince a friend to purchase the company’s product.

This is a highly beneficial tactic because the potential leads are more likely to trust a recommendation from their friend than from marketing materials.

Using Social Media

Another effective tool for lead generation is social media platforms.

Creating a company profile for services like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook will allow you to promote your product to millions of internet users every day.

To generate leads using social media, you will need to post regular content promoting your products and inviting engagement.

What Are Suspects?

Sometimes called suspects, potential buyers at the top of the purchase funnel may express interest in a product or service when they visit a vendor’s website to obtain general information.

Getting suspects to move along the funnel toward a purchase is the task of lead nurturing.

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Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing content can include blog posts, videos, infographics, and white papers.

Companies may adopt a content marketing strategy to promote their brand when creating and publishing inbound marketing content.

Lead Generation Tools

As common as lead generation is, there are various options to choose from regarding how you want to generate leads for your company.

To identify, qualify and communicate with a potential lead, you need to know:

  • Who they are; company name and contact details ( lead identification )

  • Their interest (lead scoring and qualification)

  • How to get in touch with them – email/phone (lead nurturing and generation)


LeadBoxer is a sales enablement solution, allowing you to identify your most qualified Leads and customers and get data-driven insights into your sales and marketing workflow.

Cloud Kennect

As a sales rep, you want to find a potential buyer that’s sales-ready and is a key decision-maker.

Kennected offers an automated tool that does original research on LinkedIn users so the user can narrow their lead search without doing all the work that’s necessary for other channels.

Visit the website today to get a deeper understanding of who we are.

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