What is a Sales Lead

A sales lead is the identification data gathered from a prospective buyer of a product or service. Businesses gain access to sales leads through advertising, trade shows, direct mailings, third parties, and other marketing efforts. A sales lead is not a sales prospect because further qualification of the new client possibility is necessary to determine their intent and interest.


The sales process begins when a sales lead is generated, qualified, and placed into a company's sales pipeline. Sales professionals use the lead's contact information to send sales emails, make outbound sales calls, and provide direct marketing material. Several factors will determine the quality of sales leads. These qualifying factors include whether the individual or business was incentivized to give contact information, the accuracy of the data provided, and the validity of the sales lead. Sales lead validity depends on whether the targeted person was aware of the sales opportunity when they responded.

The New Age of Internet Sales Leads

A report issued by Pew Research Center in March of 2018 states that 89% of Americans access the internet. Because of this increased access, the internet provides ample opportunities to obtain sales leads.  However, the acquisition of sales leads is a strategic process that requires skill and effort. Businesses gain quality sales leads and prospects by using the internet to educate and offer solutions to consumers' unmet needs or problems. For example, tech businesses may provide e-books, hold webinars, and broadcast podcasts to educate consumers on the use of a product or software. Sales professionals hold interactive online sessions and publish white papers and Q&A material.

The Downside of Internet Sales Leads

The internet allows sales professionals to extend their reach globally. However, many internet users are wary of providing their personal or private information to an online business. Consumers are increasingly demanding that information submitted through online sources be kept private. 

Traditional in-person networking tends to be more efficient. Industry trade shows and networking events provide a wealth of sales leads for businesses. The local chamber of commerce is an excellent place to find leads. Another useful strategy includes disseminating information about products or services through local media advertisements and interviews. Businesses are learning that when they give, they also receive. Donations of time, efforts, or supplies to local public service and nonprofit organizations provide the benefits of feeling good about helping others and places the company's name in front of many viewers.