A Sales Lead is a potential customer who has expressed some interest in your product or service and, as such, represents a potential sale for your business.

Sales Leads are typically classified either based on the channel through which they were acquired or based on the stage they are in the sales funnel.

It’s important that you know the different types of sales leads that your business encounters because this will allow you to tailor your marketing and sales efforts accordingly.

For instance, if most of your customers have come in as leads from a specific acquisition channel (eg. your website or social media), then this information can guide your marketing investments in the future to prioritize these channels over others.

Similarly, if you have too many Marketing-qualified leads that are not converting into Sales-qualified Leads then you may want to look into what needs to be done to move these leads further down the funnel and closer to becoming paying customers.

And so, let’s now look at the 13 types of sales leads.

13 types of Sales Leads

Leads classified based on acquisition channel:

  1. Web-based Leads
  2. Print Leads
  3. Social Media Leads
  4. Walk-in Leads
  5. Cold Call Leads
  6. Warm Call Leads
  7. Referral Leads

Leads classified based on their position in the sales funnel:

  1. Cold Leads
  2. Warm Leads
  3. Hot Leads
  4. Information-qualified Leads
  5. Marketing-qualified Leads
  6. Sales-qualified Leads

Leads classified based on acquisition channel

1. Web-based Leads

Leads generated from organic search are typically considered to be “Web-based Leads” because they have found you via Google, Bing or other search engines.

Web-based Leads land on your website from where they initiate contact with you.

They may fill out a form on your website, or call you using the phone number listed on your website or start a live chat discussion with your website or give you their email address while downloading a free resource.   

2. Print Leads

Print Leads are acquired from offline marketing efforts such as brochures, flyers, billboards or advertisements in newspapers and magazines.

These Leads find you by visiting your office or calling the phone number listed on the print media. Print-based Leads are often not as informed about what you do as compared to web-based leads. This means you will need to invest time and effort in educating them about your product or service.

3. Social Media Leads

Leads generated from social media are often called “social media Leads”. This is because they have found you on one of the many popular Social Networks such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Most companies today use social media to generate leads which are then passed on to marketing and sales teams for qualification. 

Social Media Leads may find you via organic search (when they look for your product or service by searching social media networks), ads, promoted posts, sponsored content or when a friend or contact shared a branded page with them.

4. Walk-in Leads

Walk-in Leads are potential customers who visit your place of business without any prior contact from you.

They may have seen your advertisement or heard about you from a friend and decided to check out your store, business or office before making a purchase decision.

This type of Lead is often the most qualified because they have already taken the initiative to find you and are very interested in what you have to offer.

5. Cold Call Leads

A “cold call” is the process of contacting a potential customer who has not expressed any interest in your product or service.

The main aim of making cold calls is to generate leads and appointments from potential customers who are not currently aware of you or your product or service.

Cold Calls are often a tough sell because the customer has not been exposed to any of your marketing efforts and thus may have no trust in you yet. It’s also likely that they have no interest in your product or service at the time of the call.

However, Cold Calling can be an excellent strategy for generating leads and the leads so generated are referred to as Cold Call Leads.

6. Warm Call Leads

A “warm call” is similar to a cold call except that you’re calling someone who knows you, either personally or professionally.

For example, a “warm call” involves calling up someone you have met at a networking event or a conference and who has expressed an interest in your product or service during that meeting.

Warm calls can be good because the trust factor is high but they may still not work out because the person you’ve called may still have no interest in your product or service at that time.

However, if they do, then you have a Warm Lead on your hands.

7. Referral Leads

A Referral Lead is a potential customer who has been referred to you by someone who is familiar with you and/or has purchased from you.

The best type of referrals come from loyal customers who have had good experiences with your business in the past.

Referral Leads are of very high quality because the potential customer has already been pre-sold on you and is interested in what you have to offer.

Leads classified based on their position in the Sales Funnel

8. Cold Leads

Cold Leads are those that fit your customer persona but have not engaged with your brand before. They may not even know who you are or what your company does.

Most leads out there are cold leads, and these are the hardest to convert because they have the longest to go through the sales funnel before becoming paying customers.

However, because they fit your ideal customer persona, they are still very interesting for your business. Be patient and nurture long-term relationships with them because today’s cold leads are tomorrow’s paying customers.

9. Warm Leads

Warm Leads are those that have interacted with your brand before but are not yet ready to buy.

They may have filled out a form on your website or downloaded one of your eBooks. They could also be people who have attended one of your webinars or subscribed to your blog.

The key thing is that these leads have already shown some level of interest in your brand. With a little nurturing and engagement, they can become paying customers soon.

10. Hot Leads

Hot Leads are those that are ready to buy now.

They may have contacted you directly or been referred to you by someone.

Regardless, these leads have high purchase intent and are the easiest to convert into paying customers.

They’re already interested in what you have to offer and just need a little push to make the purchase.

11. Information-qualified Leads

Once you have generated a Lead, it’s important to qualify it before moving it to the next phase of the sales process.

Qualifying Leads is an important step in the lead generation process because it allows you to filter out potential customers who may not be a good fit for your business.

Qualifying Leads also helps you save time and energy by focusing on only those Leads that are likely to purchase from you at some point in the future.

Information-qualified Leads are those Leads that have given you their information, have some interest in your business but as yet have not expressed an interest in purchasing your product or service.

Information-qualified Leads are fairly high up in the sales funnel and need careful and patient nurturing before they can become paying customers.

12. Marketing-qualified Leads

Marketing-qualified Leads are those Leads that have given you their information, are familiar with your product or service, and have expressed an interest in purchasing it.

These leads need to go through the sales process before they can become paying customers, but these are still pretty good leads because of their familiarity with your brand and because they have a clear need for your product or service.

13. Sales-qualified Leads

A Sales-qualified Lead is one that is closest to the bottom of the sales funnel and to which a sales representative has been assigned. The sales rep will typically have a target to close the lead in a finite period of time.

Each company decides the boundary between marketing and sales but a sales-qualified lead is one that has clearly been handed over by the marketing team to the sales team.

A Sales-qualified lead will usually have expressed an intent to purchase a product or service (either yours or a competitor’s) in the near term. They will also have a budget allocated for the purchase and have identified a decision-maker or a decision-team.

Closing a sales-qualified Lead is the final step of the sales process and will require a lot of attention from your sales team and possibly even from your management.

It should be a priority to convert them into paying customers quickly before they get distracted by other brands or products in the market.

Key Takeaways

  1. We commonly classify Sales Leads based on how they were acquired and on where they are in the sales funnel at a given point in time.
  2. Following this classification, we get 13 types of sales leads.
  3. By understanding the different types of sales leads you will know how to market to each type to move them forward in the sales funnel.
  4. By tracking the source of your leads and their progress through the sales funnel, you will be able to make targeted efforts to generate more leads and move them faster through the funnel towards becoming paying customers.