Contacts in a sales pipeline are often referred to as “cold” or “hot”. They can be “warm” too. But, what is the difference between a sales lead and prospect, and what difference does that make to your sales strategy and funnel?
In this article, we will look into what a lead and a prospect are and what the difference between them is. Often the line is blurred and they can be incorrectly identified.
What is a Lead?
Let’s talk about what a lead is and where a lead fits into your sales funnel.
A lead is a new contact, perhaps one that you’ve not been in touch with before. They can approach you or you them. Either way, your relationship with them is completely new and referred to as being “cold”. They are unlikely to buy from you at this point and in order to become ready to buy will need more information or details from you or the content you offer. As they get to know you better, they may like you and in time trust you too.
This is called lead nurturing. Educating your leads with blog and social media posts, regular emails and message follow-up can be used to nurture and warm-up leads, getting them ready to take the next-step with you.
What is a Prospect?
Now, let’s take a look at what a prospect is and where they fit into your sales funnel.
Once a sales lead has been nurtured, they become “warm” and the content you share now will be different to the content you shared when they were cold. This is where you need to work on gaining their trust in you. How do you gain their trust? By demonstrating that you can deliver what you’re promising to deliver. By using testimonials, reviews, recommendations and stats from the results you’ve gained working with clients to give social proof.
Once you have that trust, you need to guide them to take the next step toward working with you. This is where you offer a call-to-action, for example for them to book a call, schedule a demo, submit a report or audit request. Anything that gets them talking to you. That is when they become a sales prospect, a “hot” contact that wants to buy from you.
There is a difference between a sales lead and prospect. A lead being a new contact that needs to be nurtured and and warmed up so they get to know and like you. Then, your content needs to demonstrate that you can be trusted to deliver your promise, using social proof from clients you’ve already gotten results for. Remember, nudge them in the right direction with an appropriate call-to-action so when they’re ready to buy they know what to do.
Give it a try! Remember, share how you get on in the comments and if you have questions, let me know here and I’ll respond with an answer.
P.S. Not sure where to get started?
If you’re not sure where to get started with your LinkedIn prospecting strategy, then a LinkedIn Strategy Session would be perfect for you! It’s a 45 minute video call with me to create a personalised step-by-step action plan to take your LinkedIn profile from a directory of ex-colleagues, friends and family to All-Star prospecting machine.
To learn more, click here.