How to Identify Prospects Vs Leads, 10 Ways

To gain more new customers and buyers for your product/ services, your sales and marketing team needs to work together to understand your potential client and their needs to fill their needs through your business offerings. 

Companies use many terms when interacting with their sales team and marketing information. The two most popular terms are lead and prospect. The two terms seem similar, but they have distinct meanings. 

It is more important to understand the difference. By clearly understanding the terms lead, prospect, and opportunity, your sales team and marketer can get a better understanding of where your customer stands on the sales cycle. Providing them with the right solution at the right time will help your business improve conversion and increase sales.  

Finding the right qualified prospect is more challenging. All the prospects are not going to be available. Finding the right lead who is a good fit for your product or service offering is important. Identifying and qualifying the ideal prospects in the sales funnel will boost your conversion. 

Sales and business development professionals need to focus on identifying true potential prospects. In this blog, we discuss the ways of identifying the lead and prospecting. 

What Is a Lead?

Leads are people or businesses that have not been qualified but might eventually become clients. They're at the top of your sales funnel, which means they can make it easier for your business to grow by converting interested prospects into customers, sign-up forms, webinars, events, e-book downloads, and much more. 

Leads are people who already know about your product or services interested in buying from your product or services. Lead could be someone who has visited your website, read one of your blog posts, or heard about your product/ services on social media channels or another channel. Generally, the sales and the marketing team are responsible for generating leads. Here are our best lead generation practices that help boost your conversion rates. 

Types Of Leads

Know what kind of lead you are working with? Knowing the type that helps you dictate how best to approach them and strategize your marketing efforts. Knowing the lead type, your business can implement the appropriate strategy to convert the leads into prospects, opportunities, and customers. 

Hot Leads

You can categorize a hot lead as either prospects or customers, with the difference is that one is more likely to convert into an actual customer. A prospect has many of the following criteria:

Budget - Money available for your product/service.

Authority - Do they're in charge or have decision-making abilities when it comes down to making purchases (or not), etc.

Hot leads are the person, or a company interested in your product/ services are ready to convert into a customer. These leads are known as hot leads, and these prospects are at the top of the sales funnel. Your business can get immediate sales for these prospects. 

Warm Leads

The warm lead is a sort of lead that doesn't quite fit the criteria of both "hot" and traditional cold ones. They're usually just starting with no immediate demand for your product or service but do have an interest in your offerings. 

In common, the warm leads are the people interested in your product or services, and they have not committed to an immediate purchase right away. 

Cold Leads

Cold leads are often the hardest to convert and sell because they don't meet all five criteria (budget, authority, need, and demand). These cold leads will likely have less purchasing power than other types. This means it's more difficult for the salesperson or business owner to make immediate sales. They need to work closely by sharing the valued emails, testimonials, client success stories, and more. 

Your marketing materials need to clearly state what the customer can expect from your business. Instead of sales messages, focus on the benefits of your product or services with them. This will increase the chances of sales. Cold leads are the prospects who just look at products without making any purchasing decision yet. 

Information qualified lead (IQL)

You can use that contact information to share more information with them about the products or services your company offers. The information-qualified leads (IQL) look for information but have not yet decided about a product or service. These people can request that you provide them with content (such as white papers, e-books, guides, and more) for their contact details. You could use this as an opportunity to start sharing more high-value material about the products/services in the form of newsletters, webinars, etc., and move the prospects to the sales funnel.

Marketing qualified lead (MQL)

Marketing qualified leads, or MQLs are similar to Informational qualified leads, but instead of sharing their contact information specifically in exchange for product-related perks like offering access to e-books, blogs, videos, etc. While this may take more time than just getting someone on board with your offering via an individualized conversion funnel strategy. 

Sales ready lead (SRL)

The best way to find sales-ready leads is by conducting market research with your target audience. Performing marketing reach will help your business find the individuals or businesses interested in buying. Business can easily understand their needs, wants, or desires for your product/service before calling them on a cold call. 

Sales qualified lead (SQL)

Sales qualified leads (SQL) are one step further down in the sales funnel. In most cases - initially learned about the company through marketing materials and then had a conversation with your salesperson, who made it clear that they are interested in making decisions on the product/service offered by your brand. 

Member service request lead (MSRL)

A member service request lead is an online marketing tool that companies can use to gather information from interested prospects. These leads are often gathered through some other source such as a lead subscription service, which are free or paid sources for data collection. 

What Is Known as a Prospect?

Prospects are people who might want what you have in your product/service offerings. They're your business's potential clients, and it's important that they feel welcomed when meeting with a sales rep for the first time. 

These individuals or businesses have a high possibility of converting into opportunities. These leads will fit your product or service and progress toward the purchase decision. Business wants to nurture the leads with informational content through email campaigns regularly to move the prospects towards sales.

Qualify the leads with the set of queries through cold calling and qualify the leads who fit your product or services. Then build an email list with quality leads with valid email addresses, and starting regular follow-up email sequences with the prospect will help your brand be top of customers’ minds. In later days there would be more chances of conversion as a customer. 

Leads Vs. Prospects

The sales process has a series of steps that include identifying your target audience, determining what products or services they need and developing a strategy for reaching them. Once you have identified your ideal customer, it’s time to develop interest. The sales representative can send out as many emails as possible, but you need to refine your approach to see successful results.

The key distinction between leads and prospects is the qualifying step. Leads are the people or businesses who have not yet qualified as prospects. In other words, the leads are not yet contacted by your sales reps and are not qualified.  The leads are acquired from your website by submitting the forms or sharing the first name and the email addresses on the home page. A prospect is your business-qualified ideal customer who is considered as a buyer of your product or services. 

However, once you contact the leads, your business can know about your lead's needs, etc. Based on the response, your sales team can qualify the leads. Lead gen is the process of converting prospects into loyal customers. A lead is an unqualified buyer. 

Leads largely consist of an unqualified contact interested in your product or service but need more information before being qualified as a buyer persona. Businesses need to give a cold calling to lead for qualifying them.  

Lead qualification involves asking questions about their pain points so you can determine if they're likely buyers for what's offered. It also includes making sure that all necessary channels have been covered, including email campaigns, etc. 

Why Are Leads & Prospects Important?

Leads and prospects are the two different types of people in your marketing and sales. Lead and prospect want different kinds of communication. For example, leads require your brand and product awareness and to make them interested in your business offerings whereas the prospects are already interested in your offering, now your business needs to build the relationship and to build trust about your product or service and want to move them ahead in the sales funnel.  Communication with the leads is one way of communication. 

Leads are the are 

  • A stranger on your email list for marketing campaigns.
  • New connect through social media platforms such as Linkedin
  • Your blog post commenter.
  • Individuals who liked and reshared your social media posts.

Leads are not spoken yet by the sales team. Your team needs to nurture this lead into becoming a customer. In contrast, the prospects are engaged and are already connected with the sales reps, and they are interested in your product or service. 

For example, a prospect is 

  • Lead your sales or marketing team have spoken over a call
  • Someone who has replied to your cold emails 
  • The lead who clicked on the links on the email and visited your website. 
  • People are businesses that fit your market or the leads connected on events, trade shows, and more. 

Any individual requested about your product or services on social media platforms. Prospects are a little farther down than leads in the sales funnel. If you want to be successful at your sales, you need to understand what a lead is and turn those cold leads into prospects. This post will explain the difference between leads and prospects and why it matters so much. Your business needs to turn the cold leads into sales-ready prospects. 

Here are some reasons why you should care about the distinction between leads and prospects. You can get more value from your marketing efforts by understanding the difference between leads and prospects. The three main reasons why this distinction matters

1) You're going to spend more time getting a prospect's contact info, building relationships with them over email campaigns or cold calls before asking for their money.

2) It gives you an idea of which people might be worth reaching out into social media channels so that way if there is ever an opportunity where your product comes up in conversation. 

3) Knowing what type of leads and prospects helps your business craft tailor messages appropriately. 

10 Ways to Convert the Lead Into Prospect

1. Qualify Your Leads

The best method to qualify your leads is by asking questions. This technique, called qualifying your leads. Qualified leads will get you the needed information of people or the pain points of the targeted buyers. So businesses can make an informed decision by knowing about your prospect’s needs and what they want from your solution. 

Once your sales experts have qualified your leads, it will be easier to know which ones are worth following and how much time or energy needs to go into each lead to become customers.

2. Lead Nurturing

Your business can create interest in potential leads and convert them into your customer by applying an effective lead generation strategy. 

To transform the leads into potential prospects, you need to give them more information about your product or services in the form of blog articles, newsletters, etc. Your business needs to plan a consistent communication strategy. Sending an email sequence will interest the email reader and start converting.

You can also share blog posts on social media networks like Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to interest your business followers.  Lead nurturing is key to a successful sales process or sales pipeline. Make use of the opportunity for cross-selling and up-selling at the time of nurture leads.

3. Gather Your Leads Information 

The foremost thing in the sales funnel is to find the right ideal customer for your product or services. Once identified, the right buyers start collecting the right information about the ready. Identifying accurate information is the first step in converting the leads into prospective customers. 

Smartwriter tool helps you collect the email address of the decision-makers using the email verification feature. Your business can write personalized messages for Linkedin outreach and email outreaches. The AI of the Smartwriter uses the information of the leads like company data, education, location, experience, podcasts, news mentions, company news, case studies, article mentions, blog mentions, webinars, medium blogs, and much more. 

Personalized Linkedin Outreach

You can collect data about potential leads. The software verifies the information in real-time. Using marketing automation systems or AI tools like the Smartwriter prospecting process made it easier and faster. Your business can automatically trigger your outreach campaigns by developing a prospect list and using a workflow tool. 

4. Provide Valuable Solutions

If you're trying to turn leads into prospects, one way the best technique is by offering them helpful solutions. You can do this right away and remind the lead of all your product or service's benefits for him/her to consider using it themselves with any problems they may have at hand before being able to ask more questions about how best to handle these issues has already been answered satisfactorily from your end. 

You can also make use of empathy to turn leads into prospects. For example, if your potential buyer asks about how they can handle an issue then your expert team knows your product/services feature will solve it. Make sure to always mention the advantages of products/services or highlight the benefits of your product/services over another business solution. This will create more interest and make the potential leads want your offerings. 

Remember that your sales and marketing experts have identified your prospect's needs. Show them how your product or services are valuable to them. Ensure that you have chosen the right person in the sales funnel and keep the database up to date with the leads. Using CRM, your business can segment the prospects and help you to create a customer pitch for each prospect based on their stages in the buying process. 

Three essential things you need to have in mind while handling prospects are grabbing their attention, understanding what interests them, offering what helps them or how your business will be the solution to their pain points. 

5. Identifying The Needs Of Prospects & Leads 

A prospect is someone who has shown a willingness to buy from you. You can identify this by conversing with them (Cold callings) and determining if they are a good fit for your business. 

Once you have identified a prospect, you want to nurture them until they become customers. There are several ways to generate leads for your business.

  • Direct Engagement
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Generate Leads on LinkedIn
  • Write Guest Blogs
  • Lead Generation Magnet
  • Answering Forum Questions
  • Advertisement and Retarget 
  • Asking for Referrals with Current Customers, etc.

The potential prospect is someone or a business interested in purchasing from you. Before approaching them, your business needs to learn more about them.  This means that you would want to communicate with them regularly until you have enough information to decide whether to move forward with them.

6. Be Active On Social Media Platforms

Leads in marketing are more likely to engage with brands that they feel know them, are relatable, and understand their needs. Marketers who want their leads to be on board need to be constantly active on social media platforms. This will enable your business to connect one-on-one with the decision-makers. It is an important thing for your business for more sales deals closer. 

The interactions with the potential buyers on the social media networks will provide a chance to establish relationships and ensure ongoing engagement from potential customers, so there will be no turnover rate when it comes down time selling products/services. 

Active marketing leads are more likely to engage with brands that they feel like. They want to know them, and on the other hand, the business also wants to understand the needs of their potential prospects. Social media is a great way for companies to engage with their customers. Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter. In the social media platform where you can engage your potential customer.

7. Identify & Track The Leads Source

Your targeted audience hears about your brand and the product or services through referral programs, advertisements, banner ads, social media, search, and more. You need to identify your lead source and create your sales strategy to focus on gaining more sales conversion. 

It is important to note how attracted leads are and understand what marketing strategies have worked. It will be hard to find an effective sales approach without capturing the leads sources. 

8. Identify Your Potential Prospects on Social Platforms

Lead generation is focused on generating quality leads, while sales prospecting identifies and qualifies those leads. Lead generation is mostly about content creation, whereas sales prospecting involves human interaction.

A good lead generation campaign will create high-quality content that attracts visitors, but it won't necessarily qualify them. On the other hand, a great sales prospecting strategy will involve a mix of both content and human interaction.

Social selling is now one of the most popular ways to find new prospects. Your sales teams can use Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter as tools for finding potential customers. It is more suitable to find B2B prospects on this platform.

Using LinkedIn, you can identify the right prospect's criteria like job title (or company size), location & industry. Using Linkedin, experts can easily communicate directly with the decision-makers without any communication gaps. 

9. Join Social Media Groups 

You can join groups relevant to your industry and aim at helping others. You could post insights or share knowledge with these people in the group, giving yourself opportunities for building relationships while doing something beneficial.

Joining groups and sharing your insights with others in the industry will help improve your brand awareness among potential customers. Joining groups on the Linkedin platforms enables you to connect one-on-one, perfect for building relationships that could lead to business deals down the line. Social media enables you to have two-way communication with potential customers.

10. Don't Sell, Start Personalizing Your Outreach

Create a personalized outreach for prospecting today. Emails outreach is not only adding value to the customers. This personalization effort indicates that your business cares for them.  It will lead them to be more receptive when asking for their contact information or business leads, which will help your business grow your email list with quality leads. 

It is important to "add value" when prospecting. The best way of doing this is by sending personally relevant and genuine email outreach so your email recipient will benefit and cause them to invest in your business offerings.

Take efforts before outreach learnings that provide value to the potential prospects at this point and share the useful content and ensure that any content you share with the prospect doesn't sound "pitchy". Successful prospectors nowadays are genuine help-oriented folk who aim high by meeting real needs wherever possible. 

Using AI outreach software like SmartWriter your business can leverage personalization and achieve 80% open rates. You can reach out with personalized emails through cold emailing for a company or person using the AI tool. 

This software crafts tailored messages that get more responses from a company or person. Smartwriter has been proven effective at generating 8x more responses by using personalised outreach messages through its automation features with minimal input from you.


Leads and Prospects are two very different things. Understanding the difference between a lead and a prospect is important to know how to turn one into the other. We have outlined 10 ways to turn a lead into a prospect so that you don't waste your time with people who will not convert for you.

You can qualify leads into prospects, so you need an effective strategy to nurture your leads in their buying process. The more time you spend with them, the better chance you will convert them from a lead to a customer. The 10 practices will help your business turn a lead into a prospect more effectively.

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