7 Types of Leads in Business

Every business wants to be able to market its products and services to people who will actually listen. A business that deals in artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions would not want to pitch its services to college students just starting out. Marketing a solution with no proper research would be fruitless for everyone involved - you are only wasting your time and theirs as well. Instead, they would reach out to people and businesses who are most likely to buy their solutions. These are also known as sales leads in business, which comes in many different forms. Before moving on to the different types of leads, remember that a “lead” is a person and not the entire company. 

Moving forward let us see what are the different types of leads in marketing: 

1. Cold Leads

A cold lead is one that hasn’t shown any interest in your solution yet but fits your ideal customer profile perfectly. These leads are usually generated by lead generation software or maybe even through your own research. No matter how they got into your list, they are the ones sitting in your prospect list and they represent potential sales. Cold leads are considered as one of the most difficult leads to turn into prospects. However, they are also the most common type of leads, so you need to master the art of communication with them. 

Wondering how to reach out to cold leads?, check out these following points:

  • Be persistent - Use a series of calls, emails, and social touches. Ask them for a follow-up on your emails. Mention your purpose of setting up a meeting more than once during a call. After these, you should be able to land a meeting with them to get through the next step.
  • Lead with pain points - Research the business that the cold lead is in and come across as a problem solver for them. Mention that you understand how people in their business suffer and how your solutions can help them.
  • Nurture them - If you don’t get a response from them on the first go, do not fret.
  • Add those names in a nurture campaign where you can email them helpful information
  • such as blog posts and industry articles until they are ready to follow up with you again.

2. Warm Leads

A warm lead is one that is already familiar with the way your business works, or maybe even just your name. These are the type of leads who happen to follow your blogs, watches your videos, or even gained familiarity through a past conversation with someone else. Regardless of the source, these warm leads are easier to turn into prospects than cold leads. 

Want to know some important ways to reach out to warm leads, check the following points:

  • Set up a time to have a meeting or just a casual conversation with them to learn more about their needs and their business.
  • If you reached out to them previously (say, a couple of months back) and they were interested in your solutions, but they lacked the budget or it was simply bad timing, check in with them again. 
  • You can start out with something like this - “I know that we had a discussion last time, but your team wasn’t ready to take this on. However, you did seem interested so I just wanted to circle back to see if anything has changed over time and if you need help with (mention pain points or value proposition).” 

3. Hot Leads

It is the kind of lead that has shown interest in your company in one way or the other. Perhaps, they filled out a demo your company provided or they even reached out to you directly wanting to learn more. These types of leads require immediate attention because their interest may fade when you take too long to respond. Chances are that they may even be reaching out to your competitors to find the best solution for them. So you should strike when the iron is hot.

Hot leads typically have these three attributes:

  • Need - They have expressed a pain point that your business can solve for them.
  • Authority - They are usually the decision-maker or hold the purchasing power in their company.
  • Company type - They come from a business that fits your target market.

Turning a hot lead into a prospect is not that hard. However, you still need to do some research on their business to see that you can truly support their needs. After this, you can set up a follow-up meeting with them to start the discovery phase of the sale. 

So far, we have discussed three types of leads. Now, let us see what is information qualified leads.

4. Information Qualified Leads (IQL)

An information qualified lead is one that is just beginning to research a solution for their problem. Usually, they would have supplied you with some information about their business but are yet to express any interest in your solutions. An IQL is usually generated when they fill out a form whenever they want to download some useful information that you offer - free ebooks, webinars, reports, etc. This way, you get a little bit of information about their company title and type and this helps you qualify them. 

Here are some ways to reach out to information qualified leads:

  • Find out what they want to learn more about your company and what you can offer.
  • Keep in touch with them through emails, newsletters, and new content offers.
  • Reach out to them with your solutions for their pain points that you have researched to help spark an interest in your solution.

5. Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL)

A marketing qualified lead is one step ahead of an information qualified lead. These types of leads are on active research for solutions that can help them. Here are some ways to identify marketing qualified leads: 

  • They download your case studies
  • They watch videos about how your solutions work
  • They attend webinars your company offers

Since these types of leads are actively interested in learning more about your solutions, it shouldn’t be that challenging to turn them into prospects. You can simply finish the qualifying process over an email or a conversation. You can also set up a demo or presentation for them if you think they are ready. Having said that, this doesn’t mean that all of them will opt for your solution. You need to stay persistent with them and follow up with emails. 

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6. Sales Ready/Accepted Leads (SRL)

A sales-ready lead (SRL) is the bottom-of-the-funnel lead who is considered ready enough to be handed over to the sales team for further processing. Of course, this “readiness” depends on your organization’s policies. Some may consider a lead as sales-ready if they read even one ebook. Others may consider a lead as sales-ready only after they have expressed full interest. 

To understand whether or not a lead is sales-ready, marketing teams usually use the BANT strategy:

  • Budget - Is the prospect willing to spend money?
  • Authority - Is the prospect the decision-maker?
  • Need - Does the prospect have a pain that needs to be solved?
  • Timing - Do they need a solution immediately or within a short timeframe?

However, it is important to note that being sales-ready doesn’t mean that they are ready to buy immediately. You still need to nurture these leads with follow-up calls and demos of your solutions to make them fully ready.

7. Sales Qualified Leads (SQL)

A sales qualified lead is one that is ready to meet with your sales team. They have expressed a lot of interest in your offers and are ready for buying. However, they could still be doing a comparison of your solution against your competitors. These leads should be considered very hot and you should reach out to them as quickly as possible. Since these leads are fully qualified, all you have to do is just reach out to them, verify their identity and then begin walking them through the sales process.

That was all about the types of leads.

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Which Lead Should You Focus On?

As a rule of thumb, you should focus all your efforts on the ones that are highly likely to close the deal. This means that a hot lead deserves more attention than a warm one, an SQL deserves more follow-ups than an MQL, and so on. Understanding the main differences between the different types of leads is crucial to bring in sales and not waste your time on dead ones. If you want to get to know more about these leads and how to nurture each one of them, you can sign up for Simplilearn’s niche digital marketing courses to PGP courses which will help you learn all about generating leads, differentiating them, making them sales-ready and so much more. Get started with one of these courses today to launch a successful career in digital marketing.

About the Author

Nikita DuggalNikita Duggal

Nikita Duggal is a passionate digital nomad with a major in English language and literature, a word connoisseur who loves writing about raging technologies, digital marketing, and career conundrums.

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