Sale terms: Lead vs. Prospect vs. Opportunity

Leads are essentially any contact that has not been qualified or engaged. Examples of lead sources are purchased lists, emails collected online, requests for information from your website, etc. Another way to look at leads is the stuff that comes out of marketing. Your sales process kicks in at this point. You want to move leads along into the prospect bucket.

Prospects are those contact that have been qualified to be a potential fit for your product. This does not mean they want your product however it’s worth taking a shot at them. Depending on what you are selling you may have decided they were qualified for a number of reasons. They may be using your competitors product, maybe you have engaged them and they’ve indicated interest, perhaps they did your trial or were a previous user. This lead cleared your filter and has gone to your sales person. Sales now needs to turn this prospect into an opportunity.

What you should know about your prospects:
– Are you talking to the right people?
– Do they have the budget for your product?
– When do they intend to make a purchase?
– What pain/problems are they currently experiencing with their current solution?

There is a line in the sand here about what a true prospect is. Several factors could all be lined up that make the prospect look good. There is one statement that will help you move forward: You should be able to see how your product will solve a problem and create value for the prospect. If this is not clear figure it out or move on.

Opportunities were prospects that consented to considering your product as a solution to their issues/pains AND have admitted they want to make a change. They are looking for the solution and you are in their field of view.

What you should know about your opportunities asap:
– Who are the decision makers? (larger b2b deals could be 5+ people)
– What competing solutions are they considering?
– When will they be making the decision?

Pro tip: There is really only one way to get the answer to these questions. The answer elicit fear from the hearts of the weak….you ask. If you don’t ask, you will have opportunities in your pipeline that are unrealistic.

Photo by Nik MacMillan on Unsplash

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