Updated: Jul 12
If salespersons are not clear on the difference and if sales teams do not agree on it, then sales is ad hoc, pipelines are questionable, and sales forecast is erroneous.
In earlier posts Sales vs. Marketing, Suspects vs. Prospects, and Prospects vs. Leads, we described the overall marketing and sales conversion process and clarified what suspects, prospects, and leads are. In this post, we focus on leads and opportunities.
“Once a lead is qualified, it is “converted” into an opportunity and enters the opportunity pipeline or funnel.”
Leads are the suspects and prospects that sales teams pursue in the earlier part of the sales process. Suspects may not be interested in what you have to offer whereas prospects make their interest evident.
Through an analysis called #BANT, sales teams “qualify” prospects or leads. BANT stands for Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeline. Has the prospect or lead set aside sufficient budget for our offering? Are we dealing with the decision-maker directly? Do they have the need and can we fulfill it? Will they buy within our timelines?
If and only if all the answers to these questions are a “yes,” then the lead or prospect is said to be qualified. The qualification process is essentially a GO/NO-GO decision for sales teams. They decide which leads to proceed further with and which to drop.
Lead Conversion into Opportunity
Once a lead is qualified, it is “converted” into an opportunity and enters the opportunity pipeline or funnel. Opportunities are what sales teams pursue towards deal closures in the latter part of the sales process. More importantly, opportunities are where the company commits a lot more of its resources, time, and effort into the sales process.
The overall marketing and sales conversion process thus has two parts. In the first part, leads are converted into opportunities. In the second, opportunities into closures and customers.
Leads → Opportunities or Deals → Customers