How Do You Define “Lead”?

Posted by on July 18, 2008 in Marketing, Sales 2.0 [ 0 Comments ]

Lead. Just say the word at a gathering of your company’s sales and marketing executives and you’re likely to re-open the debate that still sparks heated discussion. What is a lead? Sales executives have one definition. Marketing executives have another. If you’re really brave, try to get the group to agree on a definition for a qualified lead. Good luck!

Regardless of definition, both groups agree that leads – especially good, targeted, qualified leads – are a good thing. So, what is a lead?

At its most basic level, a sales lead is the first stage of the sales process and represents the identity of a person or entity who has expressed an interest in either addressing the underlying business issue which your product or service addresses and/or your specific product or service.

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While that definition is technically accurate, the proper definition of a lead is whatever best suits you and your company. It’s more important that you agree on a definition than the definition itself. Once you agree on the basic meaning of lead, you’ll want to create variations – such as targeted lead or qualified lead.

Let’s use the definition above and add some qualifiers.

A Targeted Lead is a sales lead (as defined above) from a company that resides in your target market. For example, if your solution only delivers significant value for companies between $250M and $5B in revenue and the company expressing an interest has only $5M in sales, then the lead is not a targeted lead.

A Qualified Lead is a sales lead from someone in a targeted account with the proper role who has expressed a well-considered interest in your solution AND acknowledges elements of BANT (Budget, Authority, Need and/or Timetable) with respect to the business issue your solution addresses or your specific products/services. In other words, a qualified lead is from the right person in the right company with the right problem and the desire and ability to evaluate your solution.

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