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Understanding the Difference between Prospects and Sales Leads

Modern marketing is a lot more complicated and complex than it was a few decades ago. Moreover, as we continue to learn how to make the most of technology, marketing continues to change and evolve. The biggest marketing breakthrough that we have had in the last decade has been cloud computing, which allows us to process and store large amounts of data. In marketing, this data is mostly used to convert leads and maximize sales. The conversion process differs for each business and so does the understanding of certain marketing terms. The most confusing terms in today’s marketing are probably leads and prospects. The truth is that many marketers use these two terms interchangeably, but they are not actually one and the same thing. Keep reading if you too have problems understanding the difference between prospects and sales leads.

What is a sales lead?

There are several types of leads. You have hot and cold leads, which you categorize based on the step on which each lead is one their purchasing journey. Obviously, a hot lead is more likely to buy, whereas a cold lead needs more convincing. But leads can come from different sources. You can buy leads from lead lists providers. Those leads might never have interacted with your company, but they can still be good lists if they are targeted according to your type of business. So, a sales lead is any person that meets certain criteria and aligns with your definition of a target buyer. This is where the confusion starts as each business has a different definition for a target buyer. For example, for a cosmetic company, a target buyer can be every woman over the age of 14. But if you are a large company and you have data that can help you target your audience in a more comprehensive manner, a target buyer can be any woman that searches for certain products online, or any person who has ever visited your website, or subscribed to your newsletter and so on. It depends widely on the size of your business, your marketing budget, your type of business, your target audience and several other factors. The point is that a sales lead must fit your definition of a target buyer.

What is a prospect?

A prospect on the other hand is a lead that has made contact with your company in a certain way. This means that they have expressed a desire to buy from you in one way or another. Usually, prospects are verified by the sales team as qualified leads, but some companies consider prospects to be any leads that have made contact with the company. Whether they visited your website, subscribed to your newsletter, requested a quote, or called your customer support team, prospects are interested in your business and they are quite far on their customer journey.

As a short recap, a sales lead is any person that fits your buyer definition, whereas a prospect is a person that has already shown some type of interest in your business.

 

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