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Lead generation

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In marketing, lead generation (/ˈld/) is the initiation of consumer interest or enquiry into products or services of a business. A lead is the contact information and in some cases, demographic information of a customer who is interested in a specific product or service.[1]

Leads may come from various sources or activities, for example, digitally via the Internet, through personal referrals, through telephone calls either by the company or telemarketers, through advertisements, and events.[2]

Lead generation is often paired with lead management to move leads through the purchase funnel. This combination of activities is referred to as pipeline marketing, which is often broken into a marketing and a sales pipeline.[6]

Lead scoring

Lead scoring is "an effective model that helps sales and marketing departments identify which prospects are potentially most valuable to the company and its current sales funnel."[7] It involves a quantitative method of assigning a "score" to a lead to determine whether a lead is valid for a company's pipeline.[8] When a lead reaches a certain score threshold, it is then sent from marketing to the sales team for examination.

A lead is determined to be sales-ready through two criteria:[9][10]

  • Demographic criteria: Based on data points such as age, job title, and/or company information such as company size, revenue, etc.
  • Behavioral criteria: Based on actions a lead has taken, such as clicking on a link in an email, watching a video, or visiting pages on a website.[11]

Lead qualification statuses

In a database, typically a customer relationship management tool, leads are assigned a status. These statuses may vary by company, but some common terms are:

  • Marketing qualified leads (MQLs) are leads that have typically come through Inbound channels, such as Web Search or content marketing, and have expressed interest in a company's product or service. These leads have yet to interact with sales teams but have met certain lead scoring criteria.[12]
  • Sales accepted leads (SALs) are MQLs that have been examined by a salesperson and deemed acceptable by sales for follow-up.[13]
  • Sales qualified leads (SQLs) are leads salespeople have interacted with and have identified as having an opportunity for a deal to be made.[14] Qualifying criteria include need, budget, capacity, time-frame, interest, or authority to purchase, often referred to as BANT criteria.[15]

See also


  1. ^ "Lead Generation". 25 August 2019.
  2. ^ "Marketing Tactics Used by US B2B Marketers to Generate Demand". eMarketer. 19 October 2015. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  3. ^ Marvin, Ginny (24 March 2014). "First Touch: In 9 Of 10 Industries Search Tops Lead Generation, Social Shortens Marketing Cycles". Marketing Land. Retrieved 12 September 2015.
  4. ^[bare URL PDF]
  5. ^ "7 Key Marketing Channel Shifts as Marketing Budgets Shrink".
  6. ^ "How Pipeline Marketing Has Changed over the Years".
  7. ^ "The Basic Science Behind Lead Scoring".
  8. ^ "Maximizing Lead Scoring & Analytics: How to Use Big Data in B2B". 16 February 2015.
  9. ^ "Oracle Eloqua User's Guide".
  10. ^ "This is What a Lead Management Process That Wins Revenue Looks Like". 12 October 2020.
  11. ^ "Research: Why Behavior Matters in Lead Scoring". 25 April 2013.
  12. ^ "Definition of Marketing-Qualified Lead (MQL) - Gartner Sales Glossary".
  13. ^ "SAL is the Glue that Binds Sales and Marketing in Lead Generation".
  14. ^ "Definition of Sales-Qualified Lead (SQL) - Gartner Sales Glossary".
  15. ^ "What is BANT and How Can It Streamline Lead Qualification?". 19 December 2017.

Further reading