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Leads vs. prospects – Should you treat them differently?

The sales funnel and buyer’s journey is a complicated one. As a business facilitating the sales, in this case financial services, you have to know the context of a sale, and the different methodologies behind a sale – in order to be fully successful.

For many companies, a major part of understanding the process is being able to identify between leads and prospects. To most people, these might seem like the same thing. After all, both are interested in the product you’re selling, and therefore have the potential to be a customer and enter the sales funnel.

However, there is a difference between a lead and a prospect, and learning how to differentiate between them (and especially how to treat them differently) can put a sales team head and shoulders above the competition. Adjusting your communication technique for lead v’s prospects, shows a sophisticated, knowledgeable and practised sales technique.

What is the difference?

Let’s start with the main differentiator, as this is the key to understanding how you’ll need to treat them differently. Generally, the key difference tends to be the level of engagement between the external contact and your team.

Keeping this in mind, leads have generally only had one-way contact with your brand. They have likely come through a one-way sales funnel, such as an enquiry form, or email form. They tend to only be in the ‘awareness’ stage of the buyer’s journey – which could mean they don’t actually have any intention of buying yet. Their intention needs to be discovered by your team upon picking up communication with them – at which stage, they might move into the prospects category.

Examples of behaviour from the lead category may include:

● They may have downloaded a white paper from your website
● They might have “Liked” or “shared” something from your brand on social media
● They might have commented on a blog post
● They might have received and engaged with aa email from your business

So, onto prospects. Prospects can be described as more ‘qualified’ leads. For example, they might have shown more interest in your product or brand, or even expressed legitimate interest in buying. They may already be in discussions with your sales team and have an idea of the product/service they’re interested in.

Some examples of behaviours from prospects might include:

● They might have met or connected with your sales team at a conference
● They might have discussed your products via the phone or email
● They might have had a face-to-face conversation with your team
● They might have answered questions on your website that indicated a desire to purchase

An easy way to remember this initial difference, is that leads are in the ‘awareness’ stage and prospects are in the ‘consideration’ stage.

We work with clients to understand the key stages of their sales funnel and how to optimise each element through the use of digital and automation. If you would like to discuss our approach then give us a call or book a consultation here.

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