At the heart of every business lies the need for sales leads. Whether they are generated by effective marketing, by cold calling, or by the coveted walk-in ready-to-buy customer, sales leads can make a business successful. A motivated sales team has to know what makes a good lead, and that requires collaboration with the marketing department to define the business’ ideal prospect.

Definition of Sales Leads

The simple definition of a sales lead is:

“A sales lead is a prospective customer or information about a prospective customer.” – InvestingAnswers.com

The more exact definition of a lead varies from person to person depending on what their interaction with leads is. One of the biggest challenges associated with sales leads is getting the marketing team and sales team to agree on the definition. So, it’s important to make defining sales leads for your company a genuine team effort.

Generating Sales Leads

Generating leads is the process of making contact with and gathering information from prospective customers. Or, as the marketing company, Marketo, puts it, “Lead generation describes the marketing process of stimulating and capturing interest in a product or service for the purpose of developing sales pipeline.”

Lead generation often falls to the marketing department of businesses, as they are responsible for the advertising and outreach materials. But, it’s also important for sales teams to have input into where the leads come from. Leads can come from many sources including inbound leads from ads, surveys, and partnerships with online retailers to cold-calling and networking to buying lead lists that are specific to the industry of the company.

Defining Your Company’s Sales Leads

The key to turning sales leads into sales conversions starts with determining your ideal prospect by defining what your company’s leads should look like. Here are some steps that will help you do that.

  1. Get Sales and Marketing Input – Getting sales and marketing to agree on a definition of your ideal lead may be difficult, but it’s crucial. Ensuring that both teams have input and that a consensus is reached does several things. First, it increases accountability – neither team can blame the other for unqualified leads. Second, it promotes a collaborative environment – one team working together. Third, it allows more ideas and strategies to be expressed – two groups working on it are better than one.
  2. Answer These Questions – As you are working on the definition of your perfect lead, consider the following questions:
    • Which types of leads converted in the past?
    • What can we learn from the leads that didn’t convert?
    • What are the attributes of our existing customers that we want more of?
    • What type of influence to specific leads have in the buying cycle? (for example, end-user, buyer, or influencer)
    • What is the length of our current sales cycle, and can we shorten it?
  3. Predict Your Leads’ Challenges – It’s vital that you understand your leads’ unique challenges to enable you to offer solutions as they consider their options.
  4. Re-evaluate – Moving prospects from simple leads to qualified ones in your sales pipeline crm can sometimes feel like shooting at a moving target. Even when you have a specific, drilled-down definition of the leads you are looking for, you have to be prepared to re-evaluate as things change. Your definition has to remain fluid, though agreed upon, for your company to remain successful in the ever-changing economic climate.

Final Thoughts on Sales Leads

Working together your marketing and sales teams should be able to come up with your ideal candidate for leads. Using that, along with your method for generating leads, should create a lot of opportunities for your salespeople to use their sales skills to convert leads to closed deals. Understanding your market conditions and reevaluating your sales lead definition when needed, will keep your company on top of its game.

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Jami Deloe