What is a Lead?

Hello there, my name is Martin Henley and this is the WTF Series where I am going to war with marketing jargon. In this, episode number three, I’ll be answering the question – what is a lead?

In addressing the question what is a lead? there are six things that I’d like to be sharing with you. The first thing we are going to think about is what it is that we are actually talking about; we’re going to leadsquared.com for a definition; we’re going to think about who needs leads; how sales people feel about leads; what you do with leads and how you get leads.

Let’s get this started Ricky. 

In addressing this question what is a lead? I think the first thing we need to do is establish what it is that we’re talking about and the way we’re going to do that is by establishing what we’re not talking about. We are definitely not talking about dog leads; we’re not talking about computer leads; we’re not talking about the stuff they make church roofs out of and we’re not talking about Leeds the city in north of England; we’re not even talking about an interesting new piece of information in a murder inquiry. 

What we are talking about is sales leads or marketing leads, these are the leads that are generated by marketing for sales people to work 

What is a lead?

To answer the question what is a lead? We will need a definition and we didn’t have to go very far for a definition this time. We went to leadsquared.com who tell us that “a lead is an individual or organisation with an interest in what you are selling.” 

This for me is a great definition. The only thing I would challenge slightly is whether it’s actually possible for organisations to be interested in something thing, so the only adjustment I would make here is that a lead is an individual, or maybe a group of individuals within an organisation with an interest in what it is that you are selling.

The challenge now becomes how much interest is enough interest for it to constitute a lead. I would agree with leadsquared.com that any interest is essentially a lead but you should compare that to the different kinds of interest that people might express in your business. That might range from somebody liking an Instagram post, they’ve expressed some interest, compared to somebody who might have dragged themselves across a desert for three weeks to discover you selling water – they are going to be much more interested in buying what you are selling.

What we need to remember about leads is that Leads are a relative thing, interest is a relative thing, and the question definitely is how much interest is enough interest to describe it as a lead?

Who needs leads?

Point number three is the question who needs leads? The reason I am asking this question is because I am bombarded on Facebook and on YouTube with people telling me that I need leads in my business. In fact they tell me that if I’m not generating 200 leads a day then I’m not going to be successful in my business. 

The issue I have with this is that it occurs to me that lots of businesses don’t actually need leads. If people just come and buy from you and there’s no sales process involved there’s really no need for leads. The people who absolutely need leads are sales people and they will typically be selling high value offerings, potentially in a business to business environment. If I am selling large scale computer systems for example I will need to pitch, I need to present, I need to negotiate and I need to close – I need to do all of this sales work and I need leads for that to happen. 

If on the other hand I am selling buns in a bakery, I don’t need leads. People will come in and buy the buns and then they are going to leave. So not everybody needs leads and traditional small businesses certainly don’t need leads. If you are running a baker’s shop, or a chemist, or a florists, you don’t need leads – you need sales.

It’s interesting to think that it’s salespeople with high-end or high value offerings high-value offerings, might typically in a business to business type situation or selling very expensive cars, or very expensive real estate – these are the people who need leads.

How do sales people feel about leads?

Having established that it is salespeople who need leads it’s interesting to think about how sales people feel about leads. What you will often hear salespeople say is things like “the leads are weak” whilst sales managers will say things like “the leads are weak? Your fucking weak!” and  :a guy don’t walk on the lot lest he wants to buy.” And the marketing team are always going to be really happy with the leads because they’ve generated them and they don’t need to work them.

When you think about how salespeople react to the leads that you’ve generated and how sales managers react you need to remember that Leads are relative. Your perspective will depend on how strong you think the lead is. If you have the kind of sales people who are looking to make excuses the leads are always going to be weak, they will always blame their failures on the quality of the leads. Sales Managers will always think the leads are great because essentially the leads are the only place that the sales are going to come from.

What you should remember when you’re dealing with your sales people, sales managers and your marketeers is that you always need to focus on the quality of the leads that you are generating.

What do you deal with leads?

Which brings us then to point number five, point number five is the question what do you do with the leads? What you should do with leads is give them to your sales people who should work them to make them stronger, to convert them into sales.

Now, this is the real issue that I have with these people telling me that I need to generate 200 leads a day because what I know is that every lead you generate is work for salespeople. 

What really interests to me about Leads is that very often in my business people have said “we’re either going to engage the effective marketing company to generate us some leads or we’re going to employ a salesperson.” The issue here is that leads are the work of salespeople. If you have too many leads in your business, absolutely you need a salesperson, in every other instance it’s marketing that you need to generate leads for you.

How do you get leads?

So now you are most likely wondering how do you get leads? 

You get leads from all manner of places including advertising or canvassing, but essentially, you get leads from your marketing. If you are deciding that you’re going to invest your time, your energy, your money in generating leads you’re going to need a plan or a strategy and that is the subject of episode number five what is marketing strategy? 

Did we cover this Leads issue?

If you are still with us well done you now know exactly what we’re talking about when we’re talking about leads; we’ve had a great definition from leadsquared.com; we have thought about who needs leads – its sales people; we’ve thought about how salespeople feel about leads; we know what to do with leads and you’re getting a sense of how you could generate leads for your business.

If you have found this interesting or useful please take a second to like, share, subscribe, maybe comment, maybe there’s a piece of marketing jargon that you would like to see defined in this fashion?

If you found it really interesting and useful why not head across to The Effective Marketing Company Blog where you can subscribe and you will get this marketing jargon, bullshit busting goodness in your inbox every single day 🙂

We are done here Ricky.

Martin Henley

Martin Henley

Martin has built a reputation for having a no nonsense approach to sales and marketing and for motivating audiences with his wit, energy, enthusiasm and his own brand of audience participation.

Martin’s original content is based on his very current experience of running effective marketing initiatives for his customers and the feedback from Effective Marketing’s successful and popular marketing workshops.



Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



* indicates required