Generating More Sales Leads: Prospects, Suspects, and Leads

» Posted by on Jun 19, 2012 in Marketing | 0 comments

Generating More Sales Leads: Prospects, Suspects, and Leads

Sales Suspects, Prospects, and Leads: What’s the Difference?

Does any business have too many customers? If your does, you can skip over this article right now. Still reading? Then you probably spend some of your work life involved in getting new clients. An understanding of leads and lead generation from a lead generation b2b company, is the key to success. Looking at a few of the terms in the lead generation process provides a good starting point.

Suspects, Prospects, and Leads

Why is it so important to differentiate the difference between sales suspects, prospects, and leads? Many integrations between sales and marketing fail as a result of a “failure to communicate” between the two organizations. When companies take the time to agree on terms it helps the coordination of sales and marketing activities. This coordination is very important to developing an effective lead generation program.

Here is my take on the three terms that are often thrown around in meetings.

Sales Suspect: An individual or organization with a potential need for your product or service. They have not gone through a qualification process and may not even have expressed interest in your product or service.


  • Cars: someone who has a drivers license but does not currently own a car.
  • Summer Camps: Mother who works with school aged kids.
  • Smart Phone Upgrades: People who have not purchased a phone in the last two years.
  • Phone service: People whose phone contract is about to expire.
  • Legal services: Anyone who has been arrested.

Sales Prospect: An individual or organization that is a potential customer for your product or service and has gone through a process of qualification. They have established the ability to purchase your product or service (or one like it) and have expressed interest in your product or service at some point in the recent past.

  • Cars: People who have gone into a car dealership looking for a new car but have not yet purchased one.
  • Summer Camp: Mothers who have emailed or called asking about your camp, or parents who sent kids to your summer camp last year.
  • Smart Phone Upgrades: People who have stopped at a store and asked for a demonstration of a smart phone, or viewed a YouTube walk through review.

Sales Lead: An individual or organization that has shown an interest in your particular product or service, who has gone through some degree of qualification, and has interacted with you or your company. They either have the ability to purchase or can influence the purchase cycle. They have or can gain access to the level of budgeting necessary to purchase. They know who you are and have a base level understanding of your product.

  • Someone who has looked at your pricing and asked for additional information.
  • Someone who has looked at your website and called your business with additional questions.
  • Someone who is a current customer who expressed interest in a different product or service that your company offers.
  • Someone who downloaded a discount coupon for your product or service.

Why does this all matter? When we work with sales and marketing teams, we have noticed that it is really easy for everyone to think that they are working together, being busy and working hard: and to get an unsatisfactory result. Are the 500 people on an e-mail database that you purchased sales leads? Would you expect a close rate (the % of clients who buy) to be the same for that list as for people who fill out a form on your website? While understanding the terms will not guarantee success, not understanding will guarantee the opposite.

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