Sales Lead: What’s it mean?

Sales Genie [sleazy/Viagra-like] Super Bowl 2007 ad
100 Free Sales Leads…Really?

If you’re ever in the mood to start a debate at your next sales and marketing meeting (assuming Sales and Marketing are on speaking terms and do meet on a regular basis…), ask everyone to define a Sales Lead

There are few terms that incite more argument than this one. But why?

In most cases, sales reps define a Sales Lead as a qualified sales opportunity, while marketing may opt for a looser definition, such as names on a purchased list, trade show badge swipes or an e-mail from someone who downloaded a white paper.

Magical Leads

infoUSA Inc. gives you 100 sales leads just for trying out their Sales Genie system, and according to their 2007 Super Bowl ad, suggest that by using Sales Genie’s sales leads, not only will you be a more successful sales person, you’ll also get some additional side-benefits like a hot car, a blonde and dinner with the boss. [well… 2 out of 3 ain’t bad]

Those must be some magical sales leads!

A Lead is…just that…A Lead

Rather than redefine the English language, let me suggest that we all agree to use “leads” as the universal, generic term. Tradeshow contacts, purchased lists, website visitors who’ve downloaded a white paper, personal referrals and yes, even 100 names from infoUSA, are leads.

Simply put, a Sales Lead is a contact that matches one or more of the characteristics of your profile customer. A Sales Lead is just the first step in the sales process.

So, while sales people may say they’re looking for leads, what they want are qualified opportunities to meet with decision-makers. And that is altogether something different.

PS, in my next two definition posts, I’ll explore the meaning of “Demographics” and the “Qualification Process.” Both of these relate to your customer profile and your ability to determine the likelihood of a Sales Lead becoming a customer, which is what your Sales Team is really after.

PPS, in case you’re wondering, according to DM News, “Database services provider infoUSA Inc. claims to have generated more than 10,000 registrations from potential new customers as a result of its 30-second Super Bowl XLI spot for its Salesgenie.com lead generation service. The exposure to tens of millions of football fans watching the Indianapolis Colts play the Chicago Bears is said to have sent a surge of traffic to the Web site at www.salesgenie.com and search engines like Google and Yahoo.” So, I guess the ad worked regardless of the sleaze-factor.

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  • http://mitsufisher.com/ Mitsu Fisher

    Great post. Thank you for addressing a thorny issue in such a constructive and helpful way. Your definition of a lead is right on the money, as is your explanation of how sales and marketing interpret the term quite differently.

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