What is and what isn't a lead?
We at Legendary Leadgen (obviously) work in lead generation. One of the most important aspects we go over with our clients and partners is defining what a lead is.
For us, if I'm being honest, it's kind of a hassle. A great deal of our clients have worked with lead generation companies in the past, and they are reluctant to do so again because of their past experiences.
Why? Many companies in the lead gen industry misrepresent exactly what a lead is in order to boost their metrics. It's then up to us to work to we deliver what we promise we will, and try to change preconceptions.
So what is a lead?
We classify a lead as a prospect who is in the intended target audience, and who replies back showing obvious interest in the offer presented to them.
A lead is somebody that's ready to be put through your sales process. I liken them to a referral from a client you've had good results with: they know what you do, they have an idea what working with you entails, and they're interested in exploring ways in which you could work together.
Sure, leads are warmer or colder. Some are just weighing their options, and not looking to commit just yet. Others are a lost cause to begin with, but neither you nor they will be able to know this without a detailed discussion. But for the vast majority of cases, a lead has a significant potential to become a client.
What isn't a lead?
In our work with our clients, we deliver two main types of results: leads, and opportunities. We don't count opportunities towards our contractual obligation - rather, they're prospects that made it obvious that they're either not in the intended target market (but interested), or not interested at the moment (but want to discuss potentially working together months/quarters from now). These are not leads, and we want to put our clients through a tough sales process just so we could bump up our metrics.
Here are a few examples of cases we heard from our clients that other lead generation companies have (wrongly, we think) considered as leads:
someone who accepted a LinkedIn connection
someone who replied back with a short, nondescript message (an emoji, a simple "Hi", etc.)
people replying back turning down the offer presented to them
people replying back mentioning another person as having responsibility in that particular area (i.e.: "I'm not in sales, please reach out to Dwight Schrute, as he's our assistant to the regional manager")
Every time we hear a new ridiculous anecdote from our clients' former lead generation partners we think how easy our jobs would be if we cut corners and started considering everyone a lead. Without any exaggeration, our numbers would go up by orders of magnitude.
What you should do
So what should you do with this definition?
If you're planning on working with a lead generation company, you might like our definition of a lead, or you might want to change certain aspects of it. No matter what you do, though, it's crucial that you define what a lead is before starting your campaign.
This is your deliverable, and one of the most important aspects of your campaign, and everyone needs to be on the same page regarding what a lead is, and what it isn't.
And if you're looking for a fair lead generation partner that would rather err on the side of caution, I happen to know a great company :)