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Prospecting vs lead generation

Prospecting vs. lead generation: What are the key differences?

Prospecting vs. lead generation is an undeniably crucial concern for growing your customer base.  

Many times, in the sales and marketing world, these terms are considered identical because of their same goal of gathering qualified leads. However, both of them have entirely different processes.

In this article, we have revealed the concept of sales prospecting vs. lead generation with all the key differences and also will tell you how you can manage business challenges using both.

What is lead generation?

Lead generation is used by marketing professionals to develop customer interest in a brand, product, or service, hoping to turn them into paying customers.

It involves mainly one task; marketing efforts to get inbound leads.

Lead generation is attained through various marketing activities.

53% of marketers spend approximately 50% of their budget generating leads.

See the image below to find the best lead-generation marketing practices.

Top lead generation marketing practices

The target audience gets attracted by these lead magnets; thus, you will see a more significant engagement.

Hence, these leads are more receptive to communicating with sales reps to move one step ahead in the sales process.

To get some interesting lead generation examples, check out this blog.

What is prospecting?

Prospecting is used by sales professionals to identify the most prominent buyers or prospects for a brand, product, or company.

It involves mainly two tasks; developing a likely customer database and communicating with them to convert them into your paying clients.

Prospecting is carried out by various outbound sales activities. See the image below to find the top methods of prospecting.

Top methods of prospecting

Not restricted to this, prospects for sales prospecting can be taken from the lead database gathered by marketing professionals.

In a summarized way, prospecting is a 1:1 approach that helps determine the most suitable customer for sales.

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Prospecting vs. lead generation: Key differences you must know 

There are seven parameters through which we can understand how both of them differ from each other.

Revenue creation

So, let’s dive in.

1. Approach type

Lead generation is a one-to-many approach where the marketing team focuses on its target audience.

The main goal is to build brand awareness and cultivate their interest in the company’s offerings to generate leads.

Prospecting is a one-to-one approach where the sales team focuses on potential customers most likely to take the company’s offerings.

Their main goal is to identify quickly and get engaged with them consistently to close the deal.

2. Process length

Lead generation can be a long process to get the notice of your target audience, make them interested in sharing their contact details, and convince them to pay. 

Prospecting is a short-term process dedicated to bringing faster results about the customer’s purchase intent through personalized and direct communication.

 3. The extent of targeting

Lead generation focuses on a wide range of audiences to get higher interested audience data. 

Prospecting focuses on a limited and specific number of prospects to draw the desirable sales goal.

4. Work

In lead generation, the marketing reps conduct research and make efforts to generate leads (those people who are interested in your brand, product, or services). 

In prospecting, the sales reps make efforts by nurturing or communicating to the interested audience to make a sale.

5. Preferred methods

Sales teams and marketing teams use different methods for prospecting and lead generation. Below I have shared the main lead generation vs. prospecting approaches that are highly effective.

Methods for prospecting –

  1. Emailing: Setting an email campaign by providing various exciting offers such as discount coupons to trigger to identify their purchase intent.
  2. Calling: Communicating with the prospect via phone call to know more about their pain points and qualify if they can be the ideal customers. 
  3. Social selling: Platform like LinkedIn is used to communicate with prospects through direct texting them to identify their willingness.

Methods for lead generation –

  1. Gated content strategy: It is when you provide helpful content (eBooks, whitepapers, blogs, guides, etc.) for free in exchange for an email address from the target person. It is one of the best strategies of content marketing for lead generation.
  2. Account-based marketing: Reaching the target audience with highly personalized content that hits their pain point to engage better with them.
Lead generation methods that <i>actually</i> work!

Lead generation methods that actually work!

Want to scale your lead generation process? Salesmate is the only solution.

Explore Lead Generation

7. Communication path

Lead generation is mainly a one-way communication where the marketing team tries to build brand awareness by providing information about the company’s products and services. 

Prospecting is a two-way process, so the sales reps know about the buyer’s persona and thus speak in a way that the other person responds eventually.

For your better understanding, prospecting vs. lead generation is shown in a tabular form. 

Please don’t miss this.

Parameters Prospecting Lead Generation 
Approach type One-to-one One-to-many 
Process length Short-term Long-term 
The extent of targeting A small number of prospects A large number of audiences 
Efforts by Sales team Marketing team 
Work Communicating to identify potential customers Researching and identifying potential customers 
Preferred methods Warm calling Emailing Linked direct messaging Gated content strategy Account-based marketing 
Ways of communication Two-way communication One way communication 

Now, let’s find out what happens when lead generation and prospecting work together.  

Lead generation and prospecting working hand in hand

87% of sales and marketing professionals stated that when sales and marketing work collaboratively, it leads to essential business growth. 

The statistics below can be enough to prove that sales prospecting and lead generation, when working together, can skyrocket sales.

Lead generation and prospecting work hand-in-hand

Let’s understand how both of them work together for sales and marketing teams.

When a sales rep shoots an email to a new potential customer, your potential customer will look for your websites and social media accounts to learn more about the brand. 

If your sales reps are active in communicating with the prospects, then a simultaneously running lead generation strategy will be great to generate more marketing qualified leads.

So, when lead generation and prospecting processes work hand in hand then; your salespeople will never be empty.

How to scale prospecting and lead generation using automation?

40% of sales professionals believe prospecting is the most challenging process. Followed by deal closing (36%) and then qualifying.

Most challenging parts of sales process

So, what has made prospecting such challenging for the sales team?

The simple reason is that prospecting requires targeting with a highly personalized approach. Hence, such personalization requires skills, effort, and time.

Salesmate has marketing and sales automation to automate most of the prospecting process so that your sales reps invest more time in deal closing.


With Salesmate CRM, you can automate all the repeated and manual tasks that will scale your business.

Features such as Power Dialer, Sales Sequences, and Email Automation can help to prospect. At the same time, features such as lead management, Web Forms, Live Chat, and Meeting Scheduler can help the lead generation process.

Want to see if Salesmate will work for your sales prospecting and lead generation strategies?


Though lead generation and prospecting have some major differences (I hope we have explained them well) based on their process and execution methods, their ultimate goal is to drive more sales-worthy clients for the business. 

Efficient sales and marketing professionals with a clear goal and Salesmate CRM are effective enough to win every possible sales opportunity.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between prospecting and marketing? 

Prospecting is when salespeople try to reach out via call, warm emailing, social media inbox texting, video calls, in-person meeting, etc. Marketing is when your target audience shows interest in your product or services and reaches you due to your promotional efforts. 

For this, you need to perform thorough research on your target market.

What is meant by sales prospecting? 

Prospects are the ideal customers for a brand, and sales prospecting is the process of finding these ideal customers. Prospecting or sales prospecting helps to generate a database of the most likely customers.

What is the difference between lead generation and lead qualification? 

Lead generation is when you make efforts to develop an interest in the brand, and lead qualification will tell you the interest of your target customer based on their response to your sales and marketing activities.

Sonali Negi

Sonali is a writer born out of her utmost passion for writing. She is working with a passionate team of content creators at Salesmate. She enjoys learning about new ideas in marketing and sales. She is an optimistic girl and endeavors to bring the best out of every situation. In her free time, she loves to introspect and observe people.

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