Lead is a potential customer who is interested in your products or services. This term is widely used in internet marketing and sales, where the value of leads can be interpreted differently. In marketing, leads are people who are ready to make contact with the company and can become part of the sales funnel. For example, after filling out a form on a website, providing their contact information, or subscribing to an email newsletter. After receiving any information that allows for continued communication, the company turns the person into a lead. Marketers then promote the lead through the sales funnel, and when the person becomes interested in making a purchase, they are passed on to the sales department.
For the sales department, a lead is a person who is already familiar with the product and is showing interest in purchasing it. Sales managers no longer work with individual lead information, as in marketing; they communicate with specific customers and convince them to make a purchase. A characteristic of a lead that indicates their interest in making a purchase may be, for example, filling out a request for a product demo. Sometimes sales departments implement a lead quality rating system based on certain lead characteristics. These rating systems are subjective and are needed by managers to understand the state of the lead. Managers decide for themselves which criteria to use for evaluation.
The process of collecting leads is called lead generation. This can be a series of various measures aimed at engaging the customer. For example, advertising on social media with a form to fill out, pop-up windows offering to leave an email, or online chat. Leads obtained can be divided into three categories:
- cold — people who are not interested in the product or service and are not aware of its existence;
- warm — people who are familiar with the company but have not yet made a decision to purchase and are not currently planning to do so;
- hot — customers who are highly interested in purchasing the product and are ready to buy.
It is best to process leads using a CRM system. It allows you to work with information in an organized manner and track the movement of leads through the sales funnel. With CRM, no lead will be lost, and the entire history of communication with them will be stored in one place. The information collected by the marketing department will be received by the sales managers. Thus, the transfer of leads will be seamless. Without CRM, working with leads becomes significantly more complicated.