You need more than just a great product to succeed in business. You need to connect with people who actually want to buy that product. The question is, where to start? This is where a sales lead comes in—they’re a potential customer with vague interest in your product who has the potential to become a committed buyer.
Here’s an overview of sales leads and how you can put them to work for your ecommerce business.
Table of Contents
- What is a lead?
- Types of leads
- 4 strategies for generating leads
- What is lead qualification?
- How to nurture leads
What is a lead?
A lead in sales is a person or organization that shows some level of interest in purchasing your goods or services. In many cases, sales leads are members of your target audience—the people you had in mind when you designed your product, priced it, and marketed it.
Salespeople sometimes break down their leads into the following categories.
- Hot lead. A person who is highly motivated to buy.
- Warm lead. A person moving in the direction of a purchase but who is still in the shopping phase.
- Cold lead. A lead that no longer seems likely to generate a sale.
Your sales department can take a different approach to each of these, focusing on those that seem most likely to lead to a purchase with the least amount of spending and effort. In the business-to-consumer (B2C) market, a hot lead might be someone who’s interacted with your social media posts, made multiple visits to your website, and maybe even placed items in an online shopping cart. In the business-to-business (B2B) market, a hot lead might be a corporate client who’s heard your sales pitch or was referred to you by others in their industry.
Types of leads
As businesses work to generate leads, they often group potential customers in two different ways: qualified leads versus unqualified leads, and sales qualified leads versus marketing qualified leads. This process is known as lead scoring, which places a numerical value on leads and helps sales reps prioritize those that are most likely to generate a sale.
Qualified vs. unqualified leads
The broadest level of lead scoring is categorizing leads as either qualified or unqualified.
- Qualified leads. These leads were scrutinized by the company’s sales team, the marketing team, or both, and are considered the strongest of leads. These potential customers may already be in the company’s sales funnel after showing a strong inclination to buy.
- Unqualified leads. An unqualified lead has only a vague interest in your product or services. They are aware of your brand but lack a full sense of what you sell. Or, they may understand your brand but show little interest in buying.
Sales qualified leads (SQL) vs. marketing qualified leads (MQL)
The next level of lead qualification splits qualified leads between your marketing and sales departments.
- Sales qualified leads (SQL). A sales qualified lead is a person the sales department views as a very likely customer. A sales qualified lead interacts readily with company sales reps, responding to phone calls, emails, or a call to action on your company’s website. They seem on the cusp of making a purchase.
- Marketing qualified leads (MQL). A marketing qualified lead is someone who shows interest in the business’s offering but is not yet ready to buy. They probably have seen content created by the company’s marketing team, or perhaps they discovered your company based on their own organic interest. Your marketing and sales teams will need to work to convert them into customers.
4 strategies for generating leads
Sustaining a small business requires a mix of inbound lead generation, where you create campaigns that encourage people to contact you, and outbound lead generation, where you contact potential leads and ask for their business. Here are four strategies for lead generators:
- Create and share relevant content
- Maintain a presence on social media
- Pivot back to your existing customers
- Solicit reviews and referrals
1. Create and share relevant content
You can connect with potential leads by capturing their organic interest in your product or service. Many businesses do this with posts featuring useful content on their websites, often via an SEO-focused blog that turns up on search engine results pages (SERPs). You can also generate leads by podcasting or by posting videos on platforms such as YouTube. This lead generation strategy, broadly known as content marketing, connects you with people who are already interested in your industry.
2. Maintain a presence on social media
Many businesses generate sales leads with social media posts. This strategy requires a social media account on the most popular platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. Some social media posts qualify as content marketing: They provide useful information to a target audience. You can also embark on social media ecommerce, where you sell products via social media—an enormous pool of potential leads, with 4.2 billion people on social platforms. In fact, 76% of consumers have bought products they saw in social media posts.
3. Pivot back to your existing customers
Remember to capture leads for your business by including buyers from past sales cycles—periods in which your sales team worked to turn leads into customers. A delighted customer who loved the last thing they bought from you is a candidate for follow-up purchases. You can keep these customers engaged with an email newsletter highlighting new products and offering special discounts. You can also encourage your existing customers to follow you on social media, where they’ll get all your company updates with early sales announcements and special discounts.
4. Solicit reviews and referrals
Existing customers can be your best form of advertising. That’s because reviews and testimonials go a long way toward turning curious shoppers into buyers. Reviews offer social proof of a product’s quality to people who may have no experience with a brand. And while person-to-person referrals are fantastic, 84% of shoppers report that they put equal stock into online reviews.
What is lead qualification?
Lead qualification is the process of sifting through potential customers based on the likelihood they will make a purchase. Company sales departments lead the qualification efforts, and they may also incorporate data from their company’s marketing department. The lead qualification process is largely driven by a customer’s position in your sales funnel, based on the following stages:
- Top of the funnel (ToFu). A lead at the top of the sales funnel is just learning about your business. This ToFu lead may count as an MQL, but they’re not yet ready to buy. Perhaps they’ve seen your advertising or heard of your brand, and now you aim to encourage them to engage with your business.
- Middle of the funnel (MoFu). A MoFu lead probably has visited your website, clicked on product pages, engaged with social media posts, and perhaps even contacted your sales reps. They have not yet made a purchase, but their intent seems strong.
- Bottom of the funnel (BoFu). A BoFu lead has reached the fundamental point of the lead management process: they’re ready to buy.
Lead scoring systems
Many businesses qualify leads using a lead scoring system, where they assign numerical values to potential customers based on their tracked behavior, their engagement with social media posts, their email open rate, and demographic information.
Your customer relationship management (CRM) software can help assign these values based on a website visitor’s activity from the landing page to checkout. A CRM can also archive and manage correspondence between a customer and your company’s sales reps. If the customer has already made purchases, the CRM can archive those records and suggest new products to those clients. You don’t need a CRM tool for lead scoring, but the data can help.
How to nurture leads
Nurturing a lead is the process of moving a potential customer further down the sales funnel. A person may encounter your business with only a vague interest in your product and low purchase intent. If properly nurtured by your sales and marketing teams, this person may turn into a paying customer—perhaps even one who refers you to other clients.
Nurturing a lead may involve the following:
- Direct communication. Businesses can contact leads that are higher in the sales funnel, establish relationships with them, answer their questions, and educate them about company offerings.
- Product suggestions. Using cookies and website visitor data, companies can serve online ads to their leads, highlighting products that the lead seems interested in.
- Discount offers. A special discount might convert an uncommitted lead into a paying customer.
What is a lead FAQ
How do you know if a lead is ready to buy?
Customer behavior doesn’t always follow a set pattern, and a lead may be ready to make a purchase at any point. However, indicators of purchase intent include placing items in an online shopping cart, repeat engagement with sales reps, following your social media accounts, and opening your company emails and newsletters.
How can businesses track and manage leads?
Many businesses track and manage leads using customer relationship management (CRM) software. CRM can archive customer communications, buyer profiles, and online activity in a centralized, sortable database. Your sales team can consult customer profiles to manage and nurture new leads.
Can businesses purchase leads from third-party providers?
You can buy leads from third-party lead generation services, but expect mixed results, because your purchased leads may not match your ideal customer profile. Furthermore, if you buy an email list from a vendor, which is legal, be aware that sending unsolicited emails may violate the US CAN-SPAM Act, which established rules for commercial emailers.
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Some ways to generate leads are through job applications, blog posts, coupons, live events, and online content. These lead generators are just a few examples of lead generation strategies you can use to attract potential customers and guide them towards your offers.What are the 4 strategies of leads? ›
- Lead capture. Most leads that end up on your website never come back. ...
- Lead magnets. A lead magnet is a promise of value to your potential customers in exchange for a piece of their personal information (e.g. an email or social media follow). ...
- Landing pages. ...
- Lead scoring.
Some ways to generate leads are through job applications, blog posts, coupons, live events, and online content. These lead generators are just a few examples of lead generation strategies you can use to attract potential customers and guide them towards your offers.What are 4 efficient lead generation strategies for B2B marketers? ›
- Social Media. Social media isn't just for B2C. ...
- Follow Emails with Direct Mail. ...
- PPC. ...
- Encourage Sharing on Social Media. ...
- Live Chat. ...
- Live Video Streaming. ...
- Personalized Videos. ...
- Free Incentives.
- What skills do you have that make you a lead generation expert? ...
- State some of your significant accomplishments in lead generation? ...
- How do you motivate your lead generation team? ...
- What lead generation tools do you use or are you familiar with?
The four Ps are a “marketing mix” comprised of four key elements—product, price, place, and promotion—used when marketing a product or service. Typically, businesses consider the four Ps when creating marketing plans and strategies to effectively market to their target audience.What are the four strategy elements? ›
The four most widely accepted key components of corporate strategy are visioning, objective setting, resource allocation, and prioritization.What is an example of a lead strategy? ›
Anything that gets someone to give you permission to contact them or remarket to them is a lead generation tactic. For example, let's say you're the in-house digital marketer for a company that builds backyard decks. One way you can generate leads is by creating a free, downloadable PDF guide to deck maintenance.Why lead generation strategy is important? ›
Lead generation is a process that builds visibility, credibility, trust, and interest from a specific group of people (potential leads). So by focusing on lead generation, it can help drive traffic from high-quality prospects. And with high-quality prospects comes high-value customers.What is lead management strategy? ›
Definition: Lead Management is the process of acquiring and managing leads (potential customers) until the point where they make a purchase. This is a more involved process than standard advertising, and is most applicable to ecommerce stores that generate individual relationships with customers.
Segmentation, targeting, differentiation, and positioning are four distinct steps that should be included in customer-driven marketing.What is 4 W's approach in B2B? ›
4W – Who, what, when and where. In our previous chapter about planning in Law Firm Marketing 101, we introduced the 4 “W”s and explained briefly what these stood for in the planning stage. Now we will focus on each of these aspects in their marketing role.What are the 3 approaches of lead generation? ›
So, there we go, the three best lead generation methods: search engines, content marketing, and of course, social media.How do you generate leads interview questions? ›
- Outline your experience using digital marketing tools for lead generation. ...
- Describe some of the biggest mistakes you have made in your career as a lead generator. ...
- Have you ever changed your lead generation strategy because of changes in the market?
The most important thing to remember about lead generation is that it's highly targeted—you must have clear goals before you start creating your list!What is lead questions and not answers? ›
Leading question is a type of question that pushes respondents to answer in a specific manner, based on the way they are framed. More than often, these questions already contain information that survey creator wants to confirm rather than try to get a true and an unbiased answer to that question.What are the 4 types of strategy in strategic management? ›
- Business strategy. A business strategy typically defines how a company intends to compete in the market. ...
- Operational strategy. Operational strategies focus on a company's employees and management team. ...
- Transformational strategy. ...
- Functional strategy.
Good office communication flow boils down to what I call, the “four Ps” — portions, packaging, placement and point-in-time. In other words, you've got to pass the message at the right time, in the right place, and in nicely packaged, digestible bites.What are the 4 3 elements of strategy? ›
At its most basic level, a strategy is a hypothesis. To be a good strategy, it must precisely diagnose the problem being solved; set a guiding policy that will address that problem; and propose a set of coherent actions which will deliver that policy.What is 4 points strategy framework? ›
The framework is built on four distinct elements: before-sale prep, action after the letter of intent is signed, intermediate profit-improvement programs and strategic positioning. Prepare before the purchase closes. You've identified an acquisition candidate, and a letter of intent is drawn up.
Some common ones include cost leadership, differentiation, and focus. A company may use one or more of these strategies depending on its goals. For example, a company that wants to expand may use a growth strategy, while a company that wants to improve its profitability may use a cost-cutting strategy.What is an example of lead by example? ›
For example, a leader can be leading by example by accompanying the marketing team on a field visit to popularize the company's products. The leader should pitch clients the same way the marketing staff is doing, and this will boost the overall morale of the team.What are the five elements of strategy example? ›
The five elements of the Strategy Diamond Model include Arenas, Differentiators, Vehicles, Staging, and Economic Logic. These five aspects are related to choices that companies, businesses, and teams must make when defining and refining strategies.What is a top priority of a lead generation strategy? ›
The most effective lead generation strategy for B2B businesses is to focus on direct outreach to the people and businesses who actually need your services and then taking the time to build relationships with them.
Lead generation goals are essential for planning and evaluating your marketing and sales strategies. They help you focus on the most important outcomes, such as increasing brand awareness, generating qualified leads, or boosting conversions.What is lead generation strategy job description? ›
As a lead generator, it's your job to set up appointments and find potential clients for the sales team. You're the first step in the prospecting process, and sales teams rely on your persuasive abilities and creative methods of finding potential customers.
Customer Lifecycle Stage: Acquisition, Conversion, Retention, Loyalty.What are the 4 P's of marketing product strategy? ›
The 4 Ps of marketing are a collection of four essential elements of a marketing campaign — namely product, price, promotion, and place. Also known as “the marketing mix,” the 4 Ps collectively create a framework for organizing and planning a marketing strategy for a product or service.What are the 4 stages of customer engagement? ›
- First Experience. When a customer engages with a brand for the first time, that brand never has a second chance to make a first impression. ...
- Building the Relationship. The next stage is when a customer engages with a brand for the second or third time. ...
- Loyalty. ...
Four generic business-level strategies emerge from these decisions: (1) cost leadership, (2) differentiation, (3) focused cost leadership, and (4) focused differentiation. In rare cases, firms are able to offer both low prices and unique features that customers find desirable.
X4 uses forty-eight months of history to anticipate demand, allowing for seasonal trends and a host of other factors to make sure the right items are in stock. Lost sales are reported from the sales process automatically to help you shift inventory from items of declining popularity to newer items.What is 4w 1H strategy? ›
Now, if you're an entrepreneur on a mission to build a profitable business with a strong long-term vision, you need to figure out your 4Ws (Who, What, When, Where), 1H (How) and 1Y (Why), but just so you know, the first thing that you need to know as a business owner is your WHY, and everything else will just follow.What are types of leads? ›
- Summary Lead. A summary lead is the most common and traditional lead in journalism. ...
- Single-Item Lead. This lead focuses on just one or two elements of a summary lead. ...
- Delayed Identification Lead. ...
- Creative Lead. ...
- Short Sentence Lead. ...
- Analogy Lead.
Lead generation is a marketing activity that results in acquiring information useful for building a list of potential clients. Today, the key channels for lead gen can be divided into two: online and offline. Some examples of online lead generation marketing channels would include your blog and website, ads and SEO.What are the 3 lead types? ›
- A-Lead. Ah, our favorite kind of lead. They're in need of your services and are looking to buy. ...
- B-Lead. This lead-type is trickier. They need your services but not right away. ...
- C-Lead. A C-Lead is the hardest type of lead to master.
Sample answer: “Leadership is about collaboration and inspiring others to do their best work. I aim to be direct and collaborate with my team members by delegating tasks, leading by example, and making sure they know I care.”How do you answer lead position interview questions? ›
- Situation: Start by establishing the situation and sharing any important details.
- Task: Recount your specific task or responsibility.
- Action: Describe, step by step, what you did to address the task or responsibility.
- Result: End with the impact of your actions.
- Complete a buyer persona.
- Map out the steps your team takes when engaging with a prospective buyer.
- Establish a content strategy.
- Research the terms your buyers use to find solutions to their problems.
- Start a business blog.
- Participate on social media platforms.
Lead generation is the process of generating consumer interest for a product or service with the goal of turning that interest into a sale. In online marketing this typically involves collecting a visitor's contact information (called a “lead”) via a web form.What is quality lead generation? ›
By definition, a lead is said to be a quality lead if they are interested in your product or service, and there's also a reasonable probability that they will convert into paying customers sometime in the future. Simply put, higher-quality leads are more likely to convert into sales.
- LinkedIn. LinkedIn offers multiple ways to build your sales funnel since it is the world's largest professional database. ...
- PPC. ...
- Retargeting PPC Campaigns. ...
- Create a Referral Program. ...
- Write Guest Blog Posts. ...
- Start a Podcast. ...
- Hold Live Events With Your Community. ...
- Free Lead Generation Magnets.
A leading question suggests a particular answer that the questioner desires – most often a simple 'yes' or 'no' answer. ∎ “Were you in Los Angeles last week?” ∎ You were in Los Angeles last week, weren't you? ∎ You didn't see the stop sign, did you?How do you lead when you don't have the answers? ›
- Verify Your Understanding. Verify and then be honest before answering. ...
- Give A Follow-Up Date. The best way to respond includes honesty. ...
- Offer To Find The Answer. There's no shame in admitting you don't have all the answers. ...
- Ask Someone Else. ...
- Work Through The Question. ...
- Let Them Know You're Actively Researching.
A type of questioning in that the form of the question suggests the answer. In general, leading questions are not allowed during the direct examination of a witness, however, they are allowed on the cross-examination of a witness.What are the 3 market leader strategies? ›
Market leaders' three competitive strategies are market size expansion, market share protection, and market share expansion.What are the 4 types of market competitive positioning and its key strategies? ›
There are four main types of brand positioning: normal positioning, re-positioning, over positioning, and under positioning. Companies also use different types of positioning strategies including value-based, quality-based, competitor-based, and benefit brand positioning.What is market leader in strategies? ›
Definition: A market leader could be a product, brand, company, organisation, group name which has the highest percentage of total sales revenue of a particular market. Market leader dominates the market by influencing the customer loyalty towards it, distribution, pricing, etc.What is an effective leader lead by example? ›
What is leading by example? Leading by example is a leadership style where you model the behavior you want to see in your team members. When you lead by example, you don't just push team members towards excellence—rather, you actively demonstrate that excellence.What is a lead process? ›
What is a lead process? The lead process, sometimes referred to as the lead management process, is how your business finds potential customers and clients. This may be done using several different methods, including networking, cold calling, emailing or using specialized, data-driven sales prospecting tools.What are lead stages? ›
Lead Stage Defined
Lead stage indicates where a person is in the buyer journey. Tracking begins once a name is acquired by Marketing and follows the person as they enter, exit, and re-enter the buyer journey.
Lead progression, the first element of the Sales Cycle Triad, includes identifying, assessing, assigning, responding, selling, tracking, and nurturing leads.