If you have been following this thread you will now know that marketing is about generating leads and that sales is about making the very best of leads, which will lead you to wonder what constitutes a lead.


And of course there is varying opinion about what constitutes a lead. Clearly marketing who are producing the leads will think that they are fantastic and sales, if they are failing to convert the leads they will think that they are terrible.
For the record here is a definition courtesy of Wikipedia:

“A sales lead is the identity of a human or entity potentially interested in purchasing a product or service, and represents the first stage of a sales process.”

And whilst I am not sure why they want to distinguish between humans and “entitys”,  surely there is a human behind all expressions of interest, I think that this is a good definition of a lead and certainly concur that a lead is the first step in a sales process.

So is it really as simple as that? The answer is yes and if you think a sales lead is anything less than an expression of interest you are wrong. For example when we source data for people there typically comes a point when they stop talking about data or lists and start talking about leads. No I am not able to source lists of 15,000 people who have expressed an interest in you, your products or your services, if 15,000 people were interested in buying from you you probably wouldn’t need the list, or me.

The only way this can be confused is when you start to think about what constitutes a good or bad lead. There is the enigma that salespeople don’t seem to respect a lead, and invest enough in converting a lead unless they have generated it for themselves. When you consider that the only lead generation available to most sales people is cold calling or knocking on doors that makes lead generation incredibly arduous and expensive.  I would argue that there is no such thing as a bad lead as long as they have expressed an interest, they may not have the money, or the right specification or the urgency to buy something as quickly as you might like, but having expressed an interest it should be the sales persons responsibility to satisfy that prospective customers interest.

So if you are sharp you will probably be ready with the next question which is where do leads come from? The answer is that leads come from marketing: marketing research, product development, branding, messaging, internet marketing, telemarketing, email marketing, social media, advertising, direct mail, pr – in fact leads come from all of the stuff that marketing does.

To understand the opportunity for each of these activities, to prioritise them and action them you will need a marketing strategy, and that is the subject of next week’s if you haven’t got a blogging clue.