A sales lead is a person or a business which a salesperson intends to win as a future client. It is the potential consumer of a product or service. A sales lead is normally identified when the company displays a strong interest and avails contact information. Identifying leads is the first step of a sales process.

Sales lead generation

Lead generation is the process used by companies to source sales leads. It is the initiation and capturing the interest of a person or a business in the company’s products or services. Marketing owns lead generation but salespersons can identify their own leads through the internet.

The number of sales leads generated determines if the sales targets will be achieved. An adequate supply of quality leads increases the chances of those leads becoming potential paying customers hence a large customer base.  Access to leads is one of the fundamental elements that lead to business growth.

Types of leads

There are many types of leads but they are all classified into three categories.

1. Information Qualified Lead (IQL)

After sales leads are converted, they always give the salespersons their contact information in return for information about the company and its products. At this stage, the lead does not have a clue about the company and its intentions hence he/she becomes an Information Qualified lead. The IQL is directed on how to obtain information in order to learn more about the company by being given access to free samples, catalogs and free webinars. This lead is referred to as a cold lead.

2. Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)

If the Information Qualified Lead has encountered a problem and is interested in how a salesperson can solve it, he ends up downloading information about the product. The lead now becomes a Marketing Qualified Lead, also referred to as a warm lead. Follow-up contact information is generated stating their problem and how the salesperson may be able to help. The lead can now be guided into the decision stage.

3. Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)

Decision stage is reached by offering trials, demos, and consultations to the MQLs. If the lead reaches this stage, then the company now has a hot lead also referred to as a Sales Qualified Lead. It is logical for sales to make faster follow-ups with an SQL which automatically leads to higher deal closing rate. However, in order to maintain an adequate number of leads, salespersons ensure to at least follow up with the warm leads.