What are sales leads?
A sales lead is the identification of a person or entity that has the interest, authority and budget (i.e. money) to purchase a product or service. This step represents the first stage of a sales process. The identification of the sales lead is referred to as lead generation, a process conducted by either the marketing or sales organization.
A sales lead may also be defined as a sales stage object in CRM systems that serves as a depository for prospecting lists that are not considered to include a person that has expressed interest, authority, or budget.
Sales Lead Process
Reasons for having a well-thought-out sales process include seller and buyer risk management, standardized customer interaction during sales, and scalable revenue generation. Approaching the subject from a "process" point of view offers an opportunity to use design and improvement tools from other disciplines and process-oriented industries. Joseph Juran observed that "there should be no reason our familiar principles of quality and process engineering would not work in the sales process".
In Management of a Sales Force (12th Ed. p. 66) by Rich, Spiro and Stanton a "sales process" is presented as consisting of eight steps. These are:
- Prospecting / initial contact
- Preapproach - planning the sale
- identifying and cross questioning
- Need assessment
- Meeting objections
- Gaining commitment
From a seller's point of view, analysis of a sales process can reveal steps in a sale that are problematic, and may allow the prediction of numbers of sales based on initial interest.
In marketing, lead generation is the generation of consumer interest or inquiry into products or services of a business. Leads can be created for purposes such as list building, e-newsletter list acquisition or for sales leads. The methods for generating leads typically fall under the umbrella of advertising, but may also include non-paid sources such as organic search engine results or referrals from existing customers. Businesses strive to generate "quality" leads,those with a higher probability of a desired outcome.
Lead generation is the process of making contacts which may lead to a sale or other favourable outcome. The leads may come from various sources or activities, for example, digitally via theInternet, through personal referrals, through telephone calls either by the company or telemarketers, through advertisements, events, and purchase of lists of potential customers. A 2014 study found that 78% of respondents cited email as the most-used channel for generating leads, followed by event marketing and finally content marketing. Social media was found to play only a minor role in lead generation. Another 2014 study found that direct traffic, search engines, and web referrals were the three most popular online channels for lead generation, accounting for 93% of leads.
Customer relationship management (CRM) is a system for managing a company’s interactions with current and future customers. It often involves using technology to organize, automate and synchronize sales leads.
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