Leads vs. Prospects: What’s The Difference?

Lead and prospects — for two terms that you likely hear regularly, they’re surprisingly hard to define. Both terms are rooted in business procedures, leading to a variety of company-specific meanings. To make things more complicated, various marketing systems commonly use different definitions for leads and prospects. In fact, many sources can’t even settle on which of the two is more qualified.

For continuity sake, there has to be a common understanding of the terms “lead” and “prospect” at a business level (at minimum). Continuing to utilize these terms without some shared understanding is destructive to all celebrations involved. What constitutes a lead? What makes up a prospect? Where do leads and prospects fit into the sales procedure? These questions are essential to your approach.

We’ll stroll you through our definition of leads and prospects, as well as our reasoning. We’ll likewise highlight some essential distinctions between leads and prospects.


One of the most challenging aspects of specifying the term “lead” is that it covers a broad range of qualification standards and positions in the sales cycle.

The most standard, top-of-funnel lead is an incoming web kind completion. Those who send the forms are thought about leads even though they might not have the authority, resources, or intent to purchase.

At the other end of the table, sales-ready leads have been thoroughly vetted. These leads have been inspected to guarantee they’re an excellent suitable opportunity for the company. They might have been available in as a web form completion, but ever since they have shown sales-readiness through subsequent engagement. As the name indicates, sales-ready leads are prepared to be contacted (and hopefully closed) by a sales rep.

To find a significant meaning that covers the numerous subtypes and requirements for leads, we have to take a step back. At the easiest level, exactly what is a lead? This response begins with the most fundamental, non-business definitions of the word.

Lead [noun]

a piece of advice or useful information especially from an expert

a slight or indirect pointing to something (as a solution or explanation)

Source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/lead

Taking a look at these meanings, two essential pieces of info stand apart; leads are information-based, and they’re indefinite. Using this information in a sales context, we can conclude that a lead is information that indirectly points toward a sale.

When we compare this definition to usually accepted examples of leads from either end of the spectrum, the meaning holds up. Both top-of-funnel and sales-ready leads have supplied info and point toward a sale. Top-of-funnel leads have offered contact details and demonstrated some, albeit indefinite, sales capacity. Sales-ready leads have provided the same info and showed a higher degree of sales potential. In both cases, the information is user-generated and supplies a contact approach (hence allowing additional communication and sales capacity). With this information taken into consideration, the last definition is the following.


Prospects have the tendency to be classified in one of two methods. Some consider prospects to be contacts who fit one of a business’s buyer personas but have not revealed interest. Others think about prospects to be sales-ready leads that have proceeded to the sales team. Once again, we look to the underlying, non-business meaning of the word “prospect” to help assess these methods.

Prospect [noun]

something that can develop or become actual

Source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/prospect

Comparing the definition of “prospect” to the definition of “lead,” we see that the word “prospect” is more closely connected to an outcome. The verbiage around “lead” talks about minor or indirect signs toward a subject, while that around “prospect” goes over the capacity for next advancement and actualization. Directly put, a leads puts you on a path towards a sale, while a prospect is a final step before actualization of the result.

Although both of the previously mentioned analyses fit the criteria for a possibility, prospects have a lot more potential.

The Difference

The single most significant difference between prospects and leads is their engagement; leads are characterized by one method communication, while two method communication describes prospects. Lead has connected to a company– through a kind or sign-up– and supplied their details. As soon as the company has that info, they get in the lead into their support procedure, wherein the lead receives interactions from the business with hopes of driving more engagement. More qualified leads might engage with the material; however, there is no sustained backward and forward. Prospects, on the other hand, are developed with sales-ready qualifications. To rise to the status of prospect, the lead needs to participate in a dialog of qualifiers, whether it be on a web form or a live call.