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Prospecting Vs. Lead Generation

Lead generation and prospecting are often confused, but indeed they are two different things. Let’s break down the differences and why it’s important to approach each with unique strategies.

Prospecting vs Lead Generation Basics

Both prospecting and lead generation are a part of the sales process and both are crucial steps to the sales pipeline. Though they are similar they serve different functions within the sales pipeline. 

If you don’t already know, the sales pipeline is a series of steps that includes finding leads, qualifying leads, and selling to those leads. Of course, there is much more to the process, but that is the gist. Lets go over the basics of both prospecting and lead generation so you can understand the foundation of sales. 

What Is Sales Prospecting

Sales prospecting is a manual effort made by the sales team of the call center to identify qualified buyers of the product or service that the company offers. The company will need to have a set of criteria that explains what a qualified lead is and it is the salesperson job to find those individuals or businesses that meet those requirements. If they meet the criteria they will be called prospects. 

What Is Lead Generation

Lead generation is a task performed by the marketing team to gain interest in the product or service. A few ways a marketing team might try to gain interest is through: 

Leads are individuals or businesses that have not been qualified. This doesn’t mean that they don’t fit the criteria, it just means that a sales agent has not yet communicated/researched them to determine if they are qualified. 

Lead generation simply seeks to gain interest, which can then be given to the sales team to go through the qualifying process to become a prospect. 

Difference Between Prospecting and Lead Generation

As said before, prospecting is a sales technique, while lead generation is a marketing activity. In the sales pipeline, lead generation will come first through the marketing team and then it will go down the line to the sales team to be determined as qualified or not qualified. Usually, there are different teams responsible for each of these strategies, but in some cases the agents will have both roles. 

When to Use Sales Prospecting

Call centers will use sales prospecting as a way to save time and maximize the agent’s efforts into qualified candidates. While it does take time to qualify a lead, it is a valuable use of time as opposed to investing large amounts of time speaking with every lead that is produced by the marketing team. Here are the steps we suggest in order to produce a prospect and weed out unqualified leads: 

  • Create your ideal customer profile
  • Set your goals
  • Develop your sales script 
  • Outreach (Email, Call, SMS, etc) 
  • Create a qualification checklist 
  • Convert and repeat

The goal is to spend a little extra effort understanding who is capable of buying and who is willing to buy, so the agents can focus the majority of their time spent on nurturing the prospects. 

With the use of automation, much of the prospecting process can be done with little effort on the agents’ part which helps even more so to preserve agent time for other tasks.

When to Use Lead Generation Campaigns

Generating new sales leads requires knowing your ideal market. You must know who you are targeting and why.  Sales lead generation techniques starts with answering some basic questions like: 

  • Who typically buys your product? 
  • Who needs or wants your product? 
  • Can they afford it? 
  • Is it the right time for them to purchase? 

Once you know the answers to those questions, you will be able to create a campaign that will appeal to the target audience. Part of networking and marketing for your targeted audience is knowing where to market and what promotions to use. It is very important that you have a good understanding of your audience so you can successfully target them. 

Of course, there are very ‘in-depth’ ways to generate sales leads, but once you know this information, you should focus on generating interest. Creating new sales leads requires knowing who your leads are and making attempts to gain their attention. This lets them know that you are an option. Here are a few helpful tips on how to generate leads: 

  • Buy high quality lists – Some list brokers will allow you to customize a phone list, which would help find leads that would meet the criteria and limit that amount of calling that an agent has to do. 
  • Read online reviews – Word-of-mouth advertising often takes the form of online reviews. The majority of consumers will consult online reviews before making a purchase, especially if they’re unfamiliar with your brand. You can boost the success of your sales campaign by asking people who’ve purchased from you in the past to review your company or your goods and services online.
  • Utilize different types of content – Using social media to promote your goods or services can be a highly effective way to boost your sales. It can be used to entertain, inform, market, network, and generate leads. By getting your company name out there you will be able to generate leads. 
  • Build relationships – Building a relationship with your leads is as simple as being consistent, being hospitable, and always thinking of the customers needs. You want to create repeat customers as well as first time customers. Furthermore, happy customers will share that experience with others.
  • Ask existing customers for referrals – The existing customers will likely know other people in the industry and therefore, will be able to share someone else who would be interested in the product/service. 
  • Use an email marketing strategy – Through using some sort of incentive (discount, free sample, trial, etc) agents can receive emails that can then be put into an email marketing campaign. 
  • Attend networking events – Virtual or in-person networking events are a great opportunity to send an agent or advertisements to promote the product/service. 
  • Develop a word of mouth channel – A word of mouth channel relies on the customer telling others about the product. This can be incentivized by giving the customer a discount or free product. 

Prospecting and Lead Generation Strategies

Both prospecting and lead generation contribute to the earliest stages of the sales pipeline and they both seek to achieve the business goal of generating sales. Knowing the importance and difference of each process will help the call center agents understand their roles and goals. Furthermore, it will help the manager set and define goals for the departments. With all this in mind it is not time to get the process started by getting your sales leads lists!