Updated: Jul 11
Confusion reigns supreme. Are these the same or different sales concepts?
In the post Sales vs. Marketing, we point out that marketing and sales together convert targets for a company's offerings into customers:
Suspects → Prospects or Leads → Opportunities or Deals → Customers
Are prospects and leads the same?
They are the Same
“Sales reps or account executives start their work with qualified leads or prospects and close on them.”
One perspective is that prospects and leads are one and the same. The two terms are used interchangeably in sales discourse. Indeed, it is commonly understood that sales reps or account executives start their work with qualified leads or prospects and close on them.
They are Different
“Leads are different from prospects and also mean suspects.”
The other perspective is that leads are different from prospects and also mean suspects. Leads are what salespersons (typically, business development reps) pursue in search of sales just as detectives pursue leads in criminal cases.
As discussed in the post Suspects vs. Prospects, suspects are those companies and consumers that fall within target market segments. So, by definition, they must be leads to salespersons!
The overall marketing and sales conversion process thus looks like as below. Leads are converted into opportunities and opportunities into closures or customers.
Leads (Suspects → Prospects) → Opportunities or Deals → Customers