Lead vs Prospect vs Opportunity

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Lead and Prospect are certainly the two most confusing terms these days, thanks to marketing automation and CRM systems for contributing to this menace. Each vendor comes up with there own definition and business process cycle and thus making things even more complicated. Some say leads are qualified prospects, others say prospects are developed from leads, and still others say prospects are equivalent to sales leads. To make it even more cumbersome, business practitioners have different definition and for technical team its totally a different world.

The most basic difference between Lead and Prospect is in mode of communication and the user engagement.

 Lead  Prospect
 Communication  One-way  Two-way
 Touch point  Form or signup  Chain of email threads/Phone calls/meetings
Method of communication Contact by generic automated program or CTA Highly personalized emails contacted on individual or small group basis
Location in Sales funnel Top of funnel (initial stage) Close to Sale

Thus, we can summarize it as “Prospect is a qualified and interested lead who, through two-way interaction, has demonstrated they are preparing to make a purchase decision.

Finally, coming to Opportunity, which are actually the prospect that agrees to consider your solution (products/services) and is open to hearing your sales pitch. This is the stage where they either buy or say bye.

It doesn’t matter how much value your product or services adds to the customer, unless end user wants to change, it’s still a prospect. If they can’t benefit from what you sell, they are a lead worth disqualifying.

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