Classification Of Sales Leads

By April 8, 2020 Blog, Sales

By definition, a Sales Lead is a marketing classification used to describe an individual or organization that expresses interest in a business’s product or service.

While sales leads are often used in B2B marketing, online retailers selling high-value items or services to consumers may also have a complex sales funnel to accurately label prospective customers.

Different business owners and business marketers assiduously emphasize the importance of sales leads classification, both on online platforms and by other conventional means. However, before considering the inherent benefits of such classifications, it is important to know what they are and how they apply to online marketing, as well as the differences and disparities between their functions and characteristics.

Differentiate between Sales Leads And Prospects

A Sales Lead and a prospect are often used interchangeably but are actually different. While leads provide contact information and actively express interest in a product or service, prospects fit the mold of a potential customer but may not have directly asked for more information.

Every company has a distinctive way of classifying sales leads and prospects.

Acquiring Sales Leads — and converting them to paid customers

Online businesses often rely on digital marketing channels such as SEOPPC, and affiliate to drive leads, but they can come from anywhere. Referrals, lists, and acquiring leads are referred to as demand generation. Lead nurturing is the process of steadily communicating with a prospect. During lead nurture, the lead receives communications from the business in hopes that it will further drive their engagement with the brand and its products/services.

B2B Demand Generation Strategy Funnel

One common form of lead nurture is email marketing. By sending newsletters, content, and promotional materials, leads stay engaged in an attempt to move them down the sales funnel (see great examples of well-executed sales funnels here). Effective lead nurturing requires precise tracking so every person receives the information that is most relevant to them.


Classification of Sales Leads

A typical telemarketer makes at least 140 live calls, talks to at least 40 decision-makers, acquires at least 10 fresh contact emails and sends out reference materials to at least 140 contacts – all in a day’s work.

Do all these guarantee a Lead? Let’s see.

Each qualified lead follows a set of criteria. The number of qualifying criteria of a certain lead will determine its classification. See below.

1. Hot Lead

A hot sales lead is one who is highly interested in your product and is ready for direct contact asking for the sale. A hot lead is a qualified lead.

This category can be seen in two different phases, the Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL) and the sales qualified leads (SQL). The MQLs and SQLs are a very important factor in understanding your sales or leads funnel. The marketing qualified leads are the people that are already on the verge of being a customer based on some criterion sent by the closed-loop marketing, while the sales qualified leads (SQL) are those that are attested for, by the sales team to readily be a part of the buying cycle.

To determine the hotness or qualification of the sales lead, there is a simple determination system you can use:

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.

Qualifying questions for this criterion would be: Do you have a budget? How much is your budget? Are you willing to expend? What is your budget range?

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.

Qualifying questions are: Are you the person in charge/recommender on this project? What is your role in this? Do you solely make decision on this?

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.

Qualifying questions maybe as follows: Are you looking into this type of product/service to improve your process? What product/service are you currently using? Have you encountered any issue? Are there any initiatives from your company to evaluate/replace your current system? What functionalities are you looking at?

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.

Most qualifying questions would be: When do you plan to purchase? When do you plan to implement the new system. 

If you are already driving visitors to your website, below are some ways you can adopt to learn more about them:

  • Offer a number of free guides in exchange for their contact information. The more valuable the guide the more contact information they will provide and the more you will know about their potential.
  • Provide email signup on your blog. This will maintain your brand in the eyes of visitors who may not be ready to buy.
  • Make your social media networks prominent.

Search engine optimization, social media, and email sales lead capture is often considered to be great sources of warm and qualified lead nurturing. Learning to leverage these outlets will ultimately lead to decreased marketing costs and increased ROI.

Defining Lead Status_ Cool, Warm, Hot

2. Warm Lead

A warm sales lead s one that has expressed interest in your product but does not have a sense of urgency. This could be someone who opted in to receive a piece of gated content on your website, or who submitted a contact form requesting more information about a product or service you offer.

Basically, a warm lead knows about the product and maybe looking to make a purchase but are not sure when. If you have warm leads in your pipeline, here are some ways you can nurture them to prime them for the sale:

  • Perform product demos — Keeps them engaged
  • Share customer success stories — Everyone wants to be associated with something that works already.
  • Present a short-term offer to create urgency — Do your CRM records indicate a contact has visited the product page of your website multiple times but has yet to press “buy”? Encourage their decision with a short-term offer such as a discount or bonus within a short timeframe. This can help create a sense of urgency for indecisive leads.

3. Cold Lead

A cold sales lead is one that has not shown interest in purchasing your product. This could be because they found an alternative, or simply have become unresponsive.

Here is how you can transform a cold lead – according to Hubspot:

  • Relationship-building — When trying to win over new contacts, remember building trust is key. While this contact may not yet be ready to buy your product, if they see you as a helpful resource whose opinion they can trust, it can build a solid foundation for a future sale.
  • Personalize your communications — If you have a lead you are reaching out to cold, don’t kick things off with a generic message. Personalize your messaging to cold contacts as much as you can. According to Epsilon, 80% of consumers are more likely to do business with companies that create personalized experiences. So when reaching out to cold leads, always make sure your message is tailored to the individual and their industry to build a connection.
  • Share relevant content — Before asking for the sale from a cold lead, establish rapport by providing value. For example, if you have a prospect you have been wanting to reach out to take some time to do a bit of research about the individual’s industry, company, and role (LinkedIn is great for this). When you see content that may be relevant or helpful to their industry, you can share it with them as a way to break the ice and begin establishing trust.
  • Clarify you have the right contact — A key factor in working with a hot lead is knowing you’re working with the right decision-maker. If you have a contact who has gone quiet after you have sent a proposal or no longer seems interested, verify you have the right contact. This post has helpful questions that can direct you to the right person for the sale.


Hot Sales Leads are the fairest of them when put in front of the mirror, but the warm or cold sales leads do possess the potential to provide business and they should not be ignored. Depending on the business model and strategy, you can pursue any sales lead and make it work.


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