What are Leads ?
Everyone in a business comes across the word ” leads ” but what exactly are leads?
Leads have not given you permission to be added to your mailing list. They are at the initial phase of the sales process.
A Lead is the name of a company or a person which might be on one of the company’s purchased lists or they might be on a list of people who attended your webinar.
Importance for the differentiation of leads
Why is differentiating each type of lead into a category that important?
Well, every lead will have to be addressed uniquely depending on their qualification and where they fit into the sales and marketing process. It would not be time well spent if a sales rep, approached a seed lead that didn’t go through the marketing education process.
Matching the prospects buying cycle with their lead qualification and your sales process is critical to maximizing top-line revenue.
Different Types of Leads
Earlier, a lead was just a lead. But today there are many different kinds of leads.
Does it matter? Should we care? Should a salesperson ignore certain types of leads to focus on other types of leads? Are some more valuable than others? Who knows?
First, let’s remember that all of these titles below are applied to people, not companies. People do business with people, so a lead is a person, not a company.
Hot Lead –
Sizzling and sumptuous to your eyes? Well yeah, it is a Lead!
This type of a qualified lead, meets all the required criteria which most of the time is set. So how to know if it’s a hot lead? Simple. Apply the BANT lead qualifying system.
B is for Budget : The prospect has set or prepared a budget and is just ready for disposal at anytime a project proposal is approved by the management.
A for Authority : The contact person you speak to could either be the Person In charge, or the Recommender. He should have the final word to either say “yes” or “no” to the proposal.
N is for Need : Need would always top the set of qualifying questions in a telemarketing script. When a need from the prospect is identified, this sends a signal of a brewing lead.
T is for Time frame : The point period from the time you spoke with the prospect to the planned or projected period of purchase or implementation of the new product or service.
Warm Lead –
This qualified lead misses 1 or 2 criteria. But what makes it bagged the qualifying scale is that a need was identified and the other 1 or 2 qualified criteria should be able to support the first. In most cases, the dis-qualifiers would either be Budget or Time frame.
But don’t get easily discouraged, these leads are not wasted. They could still be nurtured and you might be surprised that in due time they’ll be contacting you again.
Cold Lead –
So, who likes a bowl of cold soup? Obviously no one!
A qualified cold lead has 2 or 3 dis-qualifiers and the remaining qualifier would be supported by the prospects agreement to take a look or compare set ups between their current system and yours. This is the kind of lead which most of the time is set to be kept in view, and further nurturing is needed. Business success is not achieved overnight. It takes time, effort, tools, skills and strategies to be able to reach your target results.
Information Qualified Lead (IQL) –
When a lead first converts, they are often providing their contact information in return for some type of useful information, also known as a top-of-the-funnel offer. Examples include an e-book, whitepaper or tip sheet.
The buyer is usually just beginning to research the solution to a problem. They usually don’t know your company and how you can help. At this stage, the lead is an Information Qualified Lead.
Using a marketing automation platform, the IQL is directed to a thank you page with a link to download the offer and receives a follow-up email with the same download link. A few days later, the lead receives another email with additional information related to what they downloaded. A few more such emails ensue, similarly spaced out over time. The IQL is also invited to learn more about how your company can help solve the problem related to what they have downloaded.
Examples of enticements toward the next stage include things like free webinars, case studies, free samples, product spec sheets and catalogs.
Many IQLs will take the initial information they need but not move on to the next stage. You can certainly keep in touch with them with email newsletters and new content offers, but based on their actions alone, the IQL can be considered a cold lead and a lower priority for sales follow-up.
Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL) –
This type of lead is simply a fancier way to describe what we called a lead above. Simply, it’s marketing qualified because the marketing triggered them to become a lead. They attended a webinar, downloaded an e-book, subscribed to your blog or watched one of your videos. No matter what the activity, marketing got them to take action, making them a marketing-qualified lead.
Let’s say that IQL becomes interested in how you might be able to solve the problem for which they have been researching a solution. They then decide to download the information about your company’s product or service. Well, Congratulations as you now have a Marketing Qualified Lead. The lead is now warm.
As when they were an IQL, your marketing automation triggers a new workflow that generates a thank you page, a thank you email and other follow-up emails with information about their problem and how you might be able to help.
With each of those contacts, you then guide the MQL to the next stage of the journey, the Decision Stage.
To help an MQL advance to the decision stage you could offer things like free trials, demos, free consultations, estimates/quotes or coupons.
Sales Ready/Accepted Leads (SRL) –
Any bottom of the funnel leads or any people who request to speak with you or your sales team or a representative of your company (it could be a dealer or value-added re-seller), is considered a sales-qualified lead. This means the prospect has requested a conversation with a person who can help them continue their buyer journey.
This might be an often misinterpreted label as sales hasn’t qualified anything yet, but the prospect is ready for sales, and sales gets a chance to weigh in on the actual quality of the lead in the next step.
Sales Qualified Leads (SQL) –
If the MQL raises their hand and moves to the decision stage, you now have a Sales Qualified Lead.
If a lead is sales qualified, a salesperson has had an initial conversation with this person. The conversation was deep enough to have identified that this is an actual opportunity. It might not be an immediate opportunity but there is potential. This potential would consider them qualified. This usually means you’ll have access to power, they have a real pain and the fit for what you do is what they need. This makes them qualified.
Also, studies have shown that the faster sales follows up with an SQL, the higher the closing rate. Basically, the responsiveness sends a powerful message about your company’s customer focus and attention to detail.
Member Service Request Leads (MSR) –
The MSR are consumer generated leads that come from new members just joining the subscription service.
The company would give their consumers the opportunity to begin working with an agent in their area from the very start.
Although these leads may contain less information than other leads that you may receive. But they are a great opportunity to begin working with a new client in your area.
Other terms or types of leads –
Seeds are the leads created from grassroots, i.e, organic approach. Basically,word of mouth, SEO, press, social media and local user groups spread the gospel about your product and company.
Nets are leads created from the classic marketing programs, i.e, trade shows, PPC, advertising, email marketing etc.
Spears are leads created from pin-point outbound efforts. In fact, sales-sourced leads are a very powerful way to build business.
Buyer Leads –
Buyer leads are consumer generated leads that come from buyers that either live in or are interested in your exclusive territory area. Here, all the information is generated by the consumer.
Seller Leads –
Seller leads are consumer generated leads that come from sellers who are interested in selling a home in your exclusive territory area. Here, all the information is generated by the consumer as well.
Offline Leads –
Offline Leads are generated by the sales executive physically, not from any source of the internet.
Online Leads –
Online Leads are generated by the website or any other internet-based source through the ‘contact us’ forms, social media, sign-ups etc.
Hence, here are the various types of leads that is to be there in the B2B sector of sales.
So, the next time you’re having a conversation that contain certain words for different leads, you would be able to differentiate and do the needful accordingly.