There are still many who do not differentiate between the terms lead and prospect. However, this distinction takes on its full meaning in the context of an inbound marketing strategy that focuses on generating mass leads.
To understand everything about the difference between prospect and lead, we invite you to read this article!
The different degrees of maturity
You don’t go from a simple website visitor to a business customer in one click. The process of converting a visitor into a customer is long. Also, it is up to you to follow your visitors in order to know when they reach maturity and to identify the opportune moment to propose them an offer.
Who are the suspects, leads, prospects and customers?
If you want to properly orient your marketing actions, it is necessary to know how to differentiate these 4 types of individuals.
A suspect is a raw contact. It is, for example, a visitor to your website, a contact from your social networks or even a person met at a trade fair. You don’t know his needs yet, so he’s not qualified. It could be, for example, one of your competitors. In this case, these people do not interest you since they are not part of your buyers personas. Not all suspects are therefore led to becoming leads. We can associate the term suspect with that of “Marketing Captured Lead”.
A lead (also called a “Marketing Qualified Lead”) is a contact who has shown some interest in your offer. It is an individual who has, for example, filled out a form on your site to receive your newsletter. In short, he has given you his contact details and seems interested in your offer. This is a pre-qualified contact. He has a problem to which he is looking for a solution. But does it meet your targeting criteria?
A prospect is an individual that you have qualified and who is part of your buyers personas, that is to say, he corresponds to your targeting criteria. A prospect is therefore the one who has downloaded premium content on your site (a white paper for example). He is therefore interested in evaluation or decision content, and you have contacted him to understand his expectations. This is when the contact is transferred to the sales department in order to convert them into a customer. The prospect corresponds to the term “Sales Qualified Lead” that some companies use.
Finally, the client corresponds to the highest degree of maturity. He is a mature prospect since he has made an act of purchase from your company.
Why do you need to differentiate between your leads and your prospects
Differentiating between a lead and a prospect is fundamental if you don’t want to miss out on a sale. Indeed, they are not at the same stage in their purchasing journey, so you should not talk to them in the same way!
If you send decision-making content to a “lead” who has just discovered that he has a need, you will rush him into his act of purchase and he may feel oppressed since he is not yet ready to buy. For the moment, he is simply trying to qualify his need. Conversely, sending discovery content to “a prospect”, who has already well qualified his need and evaluated the various possible solutions will not encourage him to make a purchase. You must therefore write three types of content on your blog in order to broaden your target: discovery, evaluation and decision content. Distributing these three types of content will allow you to capture potential buyers as early as possible. By giving them information in advance,
Differentiating between your leads and your prospects will therefore allow you to segment your entire database of contacts in order to deliver the right content to the right person at the right time. It is the implementation of a lead nurturing campaign that will help you to mature your leads.
When does a lead become a prospect?
A lead becomes a prospect when he downloads premium content on your site. And when you have identified him as belonging to your buyers personas, that is to say, he meets your segmentation criteria. Your goods or services can therefore meet their needs.
As long as you have identified a lead that matches your criteria, you need to track it. For this, you will need to use a scoring method, in order to qualify your leads (we speak of “Lead Scoring”). This technique is based on the follow-up of the actions carried out by the visitor as well as on the follow-up of the contents and the pages which he visited on your site and your blog. All these actions give it a score. The higher a lead’s score, the more interested they are in your products or services. With this method, you’ll be sure to contact your leads at the right time in their buying journey to convert them to prospects and then to customers and to deliver the right content to the right people.
You still have to make the difference between your cold prospects and your hot prospects. A cold prospect is a prospect who has shown an interest in your business but his purchase intention seems to be in the medium or long term, while a hot prospect is determined to make an act of purchase in the short term. So take the time to differentiate between these 2 types of prospects, in order to prioritize your hot prospects.
Convert your leads into prospects
A marketing automation tool will help you convert your leads into prospects, then later into customers. A marketing automation solution is indeed used to automate a lead nurturing campaign by adapting your speech to the degree of maturity of the people in front of you. It will allow you to generate qualified leads by feeding them with content in line with their needs and detecting mature leads.
A nurturing campaign is essential to convert your leads into prospects. In particular, it allows you to set up automatic emails to deliver the right content to the right people, and to send a newsletter using certain marketing automation tools. Do not harass your prospects, 3 letters per month are enough so that they do not forget you. Once your prospects have become your customers, adapt the marketing automation tool to send them only the newsletter in order to keep them going.
Once your leads have been converted into prospects, they will pass from the marketing department to those of the sales representatives, who can manage them on their CRM. Marketing automation tools and CRM software are therefore complementary. One is for marketers, the other for salespeople. It will therefore be up to your salespeople to contact your prospects in order to establish a personalized offer and ensure that your products or services are sold.
The difference between a lead and a prospect no longer holds any secrets for you! So remember to distinguish them in your marketing strategy. This will make it easier for your salespeople to make contact. Because they will deal directly with people who are interested in the products or services you offer. No need to do any forcing with all of your visitors! Good segmentation of your potential customers will allow you to contact them in good time. This will also save your sales representatives considerable time in finding customers. They will no longer have to grope all the visitors to your website!