Sales Lead vs Prospect: Differences and Similarities

As marketers, you may frequently come across two terms – sales lead and prospect. And most of you often confuse one with the other, but surprisingly sales lead and prospects are two different aspects of marketing and lead generation. 

Sales leads are the starting point of any lead generation campaign; they belong to the target market the company or business wants to cater to. In contrast, sales prospects are those who meet the business criteria, expectations, and qualifications, increasing the possibility of converting into actual customers. 

If you want to know more about sales leads and prospects, then read below as we have briefly discussed both concepts with some of their common differences and similarities. 

What is a Sales Lead?

Sales leads belong to the top-tier of the sales funnel as they are the target audience that a company or business wants to reach. Most marketers take help from lead acquisition to reach out to third-party resources to find sales leads that may be interested in the products or services of their company. 

Lead generation plays a crucial role in finding information related to the target audience’s buying behavior, demographic factors, purchasing power, and needs.  It inquires and gathers relevant information to know the pain points of their sales leads. 

From b2b perspectives, sales leads can be generated through different methods, including referrals, cold emails, business contacts, CRM systems, and marketing automation. Marketers plan different lead generation marketing strategies, including outreach campaigns and email marketing, to cater to different b2b sales leads. It also gets easier for marketers or companies to develop a buyer’s persona using the collected information. 

Not just this, lead generation marketing strategies play a significant role to get high quality leads for a company. They also move the b2b sales lead from the marketing pipeline to sales to convert them into actual and loyal consumers of the business.  

What is a Prospect?

On the other hand, you can understand prospects as sales-ready leads, meaning consumers willing to invest in a business or company. Sales prospects are also defined as qualified leads or potential clients. They match the target market the company catered to and connect primarily with the buyer’s persona created for the products or services. 

We call prospects potential customers because of their two-way interaction and engagement with the lead nurturing strategies. Prospects show interest in the product or service, invest their time to inquire more, and show a willingness to invest in it. 

Sometimes, prospects need a sales representative to understand the benefits and returns of investing in a business and company. It works as an encouragement or a positive push that helps them make a final decision. 

In business, the prospects are categorized into three stages:

1. Organization 

It ensures that the prospects meet the main characteristics of the buyer’s persona and fit into the organization’s demographics, company size, goals, and industry type. 

2. Opportunity 

To foresee how profitable the prospects can be and how their investment can help the company for future growth. 

3. Stakeholder 

This is the last step of the sales funnel, where the prospects determine whether they want to make the final purchase or not. If they don’t make the final investment, you have to move to other stakeholders and prospects to keep going with the sales process. 

Difference Between High Quality Sales Leads and Prospects 

Interestingly, a b2b sales lead can be a prospect, but a prospect can’t become a lead because of various factors, including engagement rate, intention to make the final purchase, and market competition. Below are some common differences between sales leads and prospects: 

Sales LeadsProspects
Sales Process/Funnel Exists between the top to the middle tier of the sales funnelPart of the lower or final stage of the sales process
Buyer’s Persona Helps build the buyer persona for a product or service with data capture during the lead generationShows the characteristics and attributes of the buyer’s persona built during the lead generation 
Engagement Rate Experience one-way communication/interactionMake two-way communication and shows interest in the product or service
Method of Communication Part of a generalized contact list of a large group acquired via lead acquisition or data collectionContacted in small groups by sending personalized messages for lead nurturing 
Lead Qualification Sales lead is an unqualified contactProspect is a qualified contact 

Similarities Between Sales Leads and Prospects 

Undoubtedly, sales leads and prospects are two distinct concepts as mentioned above, but they have some similarities that you must know as marketers. 

  • They are both parts of the lead generation and marketing process and run in the same sales process cycle.
  • Both sales leads and prospects belong to the same target market 
  • Show a high possibility of becoming an actual customer 
  • Initiate sales opportunities
  • Help companies/businesses understand the pain points 

Turning your Sales Leads into Prospects

By carefully considering the differences and similarities, if you’re now looking forward to turning your sales leads into prospects, look broadly into the below criteria. These criteria help you determine whether your prospects will make a final purchase or not. 

1. Intention 

Your prospect must show a willingness to invest in the product or service you’re offering. If you’re selling a business, the prospect will inquire about the current sales, market insights, customer base, stakeholders, and other things which show the intention to invest in the business. A potential investor or consumer will initiate two-way conversation/communication to learn more about the business/company. 

2. Fit into the Target Market 

Your prospect must match the target market you’re catering to; this way, you can figure out some reasons why they want to invest in your business. Also, with lead generation, you are aware of your target audience’s characteristics and pain points, making it easy for you to match the attributes with your prospects. 

3. Authority 

Every prospect has some authority to make a purchase. You don’t want to exhaust your time and money to market or advertise your business to someone who has no authority to invest in your business. If you’re looking forward to securing prospects, you must ask them upfront about their position in an organization, purchasing power, and goals. 

Want to turn your b2b sales leads into prospects? Contact Linked Strategies. Since our inception, we have helped large enterprises like IBM, Westcor, Nasdaq, and many startups to generate more than 100,000 leads. Read what our clients have to say about our result-oriented services here!