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Leads vs Prospects - Understanding the definitive difference between both in a B2B Sales cycle

Leads vs Prospects - Understanding the definitive difference between both in a B2B Sales cycle

Lead generation and Prospecting are not alien to you if you belong to the B2B Marketing world or are a part of the B2B Sales department. The terms “Leads” and “Prospects” are two different terms used to describe the status of a customer in different tiers of a sales funnel. Both these terms are used interchangeably very often, but there is a very distinguished difference between the two.

Understandably so, the marketing strategy, the technique and the way of communication to approach either of them has to be different. In this article, we will learn the difference between Leads and Prospects and the ways to convert the leads into prospects.

Who are “Leads” in a B2B Sales Cycle?

  • A typical lead in a B2B sales cycle is any potential contact, be it an individual or a company, who has expressed interest in your product/service via response to ads, inbound website visits, contact forms, signed up for newsletters or e-books or even referrals from existing customers etc.
  • A lead, present at the top of the funnel, in the first and initial stages of a sales cycle, can also be a new LinkedIn connection that you may have messaged, someone who has commented on your blogs on social networking sites, users who have liked or shared your social media posts, so on and so forth.
  • Although any lead has good chances of becoming a prospect later on in the sales cycle, they are still considered unqualified contacts until they match the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).
  • Communication with “leads” is always one-sided; as a company or part of the Sales team, you have not yet established any real business communication with them before understanding whether they are the right fit for your target market and have genuine intentions of becoming a buyer.
  • With leads, a company’s responsibility is to first discover whether they are the right target audience, if yes, create an awareness about their brand, capture their interest and build a reputation.

Who are “Prospects” in a B2B Sales Cycle?

  • In a B2B Sales cycle, a lead turns into a “prospect” when they have expressed genuine interest in your product/service, have moved past one-way communication wherein the company has also established engagement, and those who have actual potential to become a buyer.
  • A prospect can be someone who has responded to your emails, someone who has replied to your direct inkedIn message, users with whom you have interacted via telephone and so on.
  • The probability of a prospect converting into a real customer is higher, since they satisfy your ICP criteria, are a good match for your product/service and have the intent of buying from your company.
  • Prospects are somewhere in the middle of the sales funnel, wherein continuous one-to-one engagement and sales conversations will help in pushing down prospects to the bottom of the sales funnel - to close a deal and convert them to clients.

(Visit https://zebrista.com/ to know more about Zebrista, a Sales acceleration software.)

Converting “Leads” into “Prospects’ in a B2B Sales Cycle

zebrista leads vs prospects in a b2b sales cycle

Now that we have understood the minute but definitive difference between leads and prospects, it is a no-brainer that the strategy to approach each one has to be different. While leads have to be catered to by building brand awareness, prospects have to be fostered and nurtured in a proper manner to lead them to a permanent relationship. The end goal of a sales representative, however, is the same - to convert the leads to prospects and prospects to customers.

For leads to convert into qualified prospects, they have to,

  • Match your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)

A lead that is an exact match to your buyer persona and meets all expectations of your target market is your best prospect.

  • Show Buyer Intent

Leads genuinely interested in availing your product or offer, appreciate regular interactions and respond to communication. It is important to gauge their intention if they actually need your service and if it is really useful for them.

  • Be the Decision Makers

Ensure that the leads you are interacting with are the big stakeholders or someone who has the authority to take decisions about their companies.

From generating leads to converting them to prospects, and then turning them into customers requires a focussed and dedicated approach. The marketing strategy for both of them cannot be the same, as both are at different stages of the B2B sales cycle, hence both have to be tackled differently. Understanding the peculiarities of each of them and customising the technique according to their requirements guarantees quicker and successful results.

Zebrista for Lead Generation Automation and Prospecting Automation

  • A sales acceleration tool, Zebrista, is a Sales automation tool that automates your entire sales cycle by implementing prospecting automation, contact discovery, validation, lead generation, email marketing, appointment generation, linkedin outreach, outbound marketing and much more.
  • Zebrista automates the entire Lead Generation process to provide leads and their details. It also provides a hassle free, automated, ready to use picture of prospects. This speeds up the lead generation and prospecting processes.
  • Based on the criteria and filters selected, Zebrista helps you identify your target audience from 25+ sources like LinkedIn/angel/crunchbase etc.
  • After identifying the correct audience, data for prospective clients is mined and the contact information of these clients is extracted from the system.
  • Not only does Zebrista help companies build their own workflows depending on their criteria while searching the target audience but also provides a library of already existing workflows which companies can use, some examples of which are targeting recently funded companies, targeting actively hiring companies, etc.
  • Zebrista doesn’t stop here, It does a whole lot of things - Connect with us now to see Zebrista in action and to ACCELERATE your SALES cycle.