Sales leads vs marketing leads

Sales leads vs marketing leads

You’ve probably gone merrily through life thinking that there is only one type of lead. For some people, the word “leads” conjures up images of salespeople with a rolodex full of physical pieces of card with contact details on. That’s where the phrase “top pocket” comes from – meaning to literally pop someone’s business card in your top pocket and keep a lead all to yourself. Sneaky.

You won’t be surprised to hear that this traditional and rather “static” view of leads doesn’t translate particularly well to the world of digital marketing and lead generation in 2019. Leads are no longer just someone’s contact details in black and white – they’re much more dynamic. The customer is getting smarter – so your approach to them needs to be smarter.

With that in mind, I’m now going to introduce you to the two types of leads you need to know about when it comes to marketing in today’s landscape – marketing leads, and sales leads.


Why do we have different types of leads?

It’s all down to the buyer’s journey. Remember when I said the customer is getting smarter? Well, they now have a tool which helps them get infinite amounts of information about your company and your product before they decide to place an order with you – you might’ve heard of it, it’s called the internet.



Because of this, your customer has loads of interactions with your company before they even consider a purchase. They look at your website, open your emails, click on your social media posts. If you’re playing in the inbound space, they might download a whitepaper or a guide. These are all very valuable interactions that are very useful to know about before they fill in a form or pick up the phone. That’s where marketing vs sales leads come in.


Marketing qualified leads

Marketing leads – or “marketing qualified” leads – are just that. Leads which have been deemed ‘qualified’ by marketing. Usually, what happens is, your marketing team or agency, or whoever does your marketing, will design a funnel or campaign which drives prospects towards a particular goal. Could be a particular product or service, or just wanting them to get in touch. They will then use a marketing automation system combined with lead scoring to assign a point value to each interaction. You’ll agree on the number of points per interaction, and the threshold, and once a contact has reached that threshold, they’re deemed “marketing qualified”. That means they are primed, warmed and ready for a lovely little chat with sales. Your marketing team or agency are happy because they can see their activity is working, their messaging is point and targeting is right, and your sales team are happy because they’re getting toasty warm leads which are much more open to a conversation than your average cold call contact.

Which leads us nicely onto the other type of leads.


Sales qualified leads

Sales qualified leads are the next step on the journey for your prospect. Once they’ve been nicely warmed by marketing, it’s time to hit them with a well timed sales call. The advantage here, as I said before, is that the salesperson knows the lead is interested in your product or service, and if marketing have done their job right, is armed with loads of other juicy tidbits like what pages of your website they’ve been visiting and which email campaigns they’ve opened. This visibility makes the whole process smoother and the conversation (hopefully!) easier. Don’t let your marketing function off the hook here though – they can still support sales at this stage, whether that’s with battle cards, case studies, or product collateral to share. Leads are usually deemed sales qualified when it’s been determined that they’re a good fit for your product or service, they’re looking to replace their current service, you’re talking to the decision maker, and finally, they’re ready to buy. After that you usually move on to producing quotes and other activity which pushes leads over the line into customers.


We’re better together

You might have noticed that key part of operating a leads model in this way is a joined up approach to sales and marketing. I know from experience that in many businesses, there’s a definite distance between the two. And that’s just in businesses that have a dedicated marketing resource. But the truth is, to get better visibility of your prospects and to really supercharge your lead gen, you need this link to be strong, and for sales to have a solid understanding of what marketing (whether that’s internal or external) is sending to them.

Whatever your business’ current approach to sales and marketing, viewing leads in this way can only lead to better, more valuable conversations. If you’d like help and advice on how to join up your sales and marketing efforts, or you need some marketing to support your sales efforts – we can help. Simply get in touch and we can chat through your goals, challenges, hopes and dreams and help get you where you need to be.