While these terms (lead and prospect) are often interchanged in conversation and even in marketing, the difference between them is actually quite significant.
To begin with, let’s define a ‘lead’.
Simply put, a lead is anyone who has had any type of interaction with your brand.
Perhaps they’ve encountered a post on a social media platform or sampled one of your products. They may have read a blog of yours or had a conversation with a staff member where your business was introduced to them. You may have swapped business cards – virtual or otherwise – at a networking event.
They are referred to as ‘a lead’ as the interaction could lead to another interaction or a possible referral.
A prospect is something quite different.
“Prospecting – find the man with the problem.” – Ben Friedman
Converting your leads to prospects is actually the entire foundation of Sales and Marketing.
But stop! Don’t dive headfirst into the drama of sales…
The first step in this specific process? A lead needs to be “qualified”.
Let’s take a minor diversion and explore the process or concept of “qualifying a lead”.
Salesforce “Lead Qualification: The process of determining how likely a lead is to ultimately turn into a paying customer.”
In fact, it is as much your decision whether someone is likely to become a paying customer as it is theirs!
They say that we determine our opinion of people in the first 5 seconds of our first impression. By approximately 3 minutes into any initial conversation or 1-2-1 with a person or representative of an organisation, you know if that person is someone you have any interest in pursuing a business partnership with:
- whether they could pay or not;
- whether they have need of your services or not;
- whether they have successful businesses or not.
No matter what stage of business you are at, it is extremely important that potential clients share and respect similar goals and values to that of you and your business.
We want to do business with those who will value what we believe is important and respect our ways of doing business. THAT is a significant part of what determines the qualification of a lead, into a prospect. Do they have the potential to work well with us?
Without confirmation of aligned values, there will always be a disconnect in vision, desired outcomes and communication.
Obviously, their potential to be able to pay for our services or products is also important…but actually, not always a decider. People will find time or funds for what they have been convinced is a worthwhile venture.
A prospect is a person or organisation who meets your criteria for the type of client you want to do business with.
This will be different for every business. ‘Birds of a feather flock together’ is a true analogy. Knowing how to transition your ideal leads into true prospects is determined by knowing your criteria for what makes them suitable or not. From here, it becomes a much simpler task to craft messaging, content and products or services that will draw the right kind of ‘birds’.
You can certainly explore the plethora of techniques and automations available to aid your organisation in lead qualification. Alternatively, contact our team and we can explore suitable methods to take that process off of your hands.
Or check out our fabulous new product – P2P – Prospect to Profit.