Even the most astute salespeople sometimes get confused about the difference between a sales lead and a sales opportunity. These terms could be used interchangeably, but they’re different.
If you’re not familiar with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) techniques and salesforce automation tools, or if you are confused about what “lead” and “opportunity” mean, you will find this post useful.
In this post, we will explain the difference between a sales lead and a sales opportunity and discuss how you can build a simple yet effective sales opportunity plan to increase your sales revenue.
What is a Sales Lead?
A sales lead is information about a prospect (consumer or business) that could turn into a future sale. Generally, such information includes the name and contact details of a possible decision-maker looking to buy what you offer. (In the Enjay CRM, we also term this as an Enquiry.)
A lead could also be one who influences the decision-maker – an expert, friend, consultant, user, etc. – but doesn’t make the decision himself. The needs of someone who influences the sale could be different from those of someone who makes the decisions. This is why it’s important to understand the needs of both those who take decisions and those who influence them.
Typically, a sales lead gets qualified once it meets the predefined criteria and moves on to the next stage – a sales opportunity.
What is a Sales Opportunity?
As seen above, a sales opportunity is a qualified sales lead. The lead has met the necessary criteria and presents the opportunity for business potential. In CRM terms, an opportunity represents the potential sale to new or existing customers. (This is also commonly known as a Deal in the Enjay CRM.)
A sales opportunity is rarely a one-step process. It’s often a multi-call sales cycle (especially in the B2B sector) that can take some time to materialize. The steps include phone calls, meetings, sending proposals, reviewing work done. The goal of the process is to ensure that the potential that a prospective sales opportunity presents gets utilized to the fullest.
Managing this process end-to-end and planning how to execute each step is what is known as Sales Opportunity Management.
The 5 Sales Opportunity Stages
Opportunity Management enables salespeople and managers to strategize, execute, and track a multistage sales process. Rather than trying to metrics like manage revenue and margins, salespeople can streamline these activities, which, in turn, will positively impact revenue forecasts and numbers.
However, managing these steps is not as simple as managing a sales pipeline. There’s a lot more going into it since there are many more moving parts.
We’ve already discussed the stages to manage a sales opportunity.
Let’s quickly discuss it again.
1. Gathering Data
Without data, a sales opportunity process is as reliable as a politician’s pre-election promises.
Salespeople (or the marketing team) should collect customer information in context to factors like market conditions, competitors and personal SWOT, and so on.
2. Lead Qualification
Any relationship is worth entering only if both entities are a good fit. Buyer-seller relations are no different.
With the information collected and compared against predefined sales criteria, the sales team can identify whether the customer is a good fit and how to align their strategy with the customer’s goals.
3. Strategy Formulation
To get what you want, you must first know what you want and how to get there. This is why a practical strategy is important.
Identify the prospects’ pressing needs and align selling activities with different stages and preempt the best products to pitch and questions customers might ask.
3. Strategy Execution
Ordinary plans executed well are much better than brilliant plans executed poorly.
The way the entire organization functions in this process contributes to the customer’s experience creates an impression in the customer’s mind about the organization.
4. Review and Analysis
You cannot expect to reach your destination if you don’t know where you’re going and course-correct when needed.
Leaders should periodically review sales opportunity management processes with their people to clear bottlenecks, get things moving forward, and refine the process if needed.
How to Find Sales Opportunities?
Identifying (and creating) qualified sales leads is no easy task. It doesn’t just demand to pump in money in advertising (that becomes unsustainable after one point) but also carrying out various exercises to stay updated with changing customer needs and market trends.
Here are four ways to find sales opportunities and convert them into customers.
1. Listen to Customers
The best source of telling you what your customers need are your customers themselves. You have to ask them.
Collect feedback from existing customers on how and why they use your product, which features they use most, and which they use least. This information will not just give you insights that you can use to pitch to new customers, but also how you can improve your product to beat the competition.
2. Paid Advertising
To get a feel of how prospects engage with your marketing pitches, it’s important to get it out in front of them.
Advertising lets you showcase new and existing products to customers and gauge whether they’re getting convinced or not. Through targeted ads, you can stay on top of your prospects’ minds and amplify sales.
3. Leverage Personal Social Media Profiles
An organization is no longer a faceless entity. People now tend to engage with organizations whose people they know and trust.
As a leader, a social media profile can do a lot of good for you to promote your offering and insights in the form of content. This makes the information reach organically within your circles and informs people about what you’re doing.
4. Educate Your Prospects
As discussed earlier, advertising can only get you so much visibility and becomes unsustainable after some time.
Instead, choose to educate your audience through your content on how they can solve their most pressing problems. This content could include blog posts, videos, webinars, and more. When you educate your target audience, you also increase the chances of generating sales leads which you can qualify and turn into opportunities.
Implementing sales opportunity plans is a better way to forecast revenue and increase it. As a leader, you can tell your people exactly what they need to do to achieve their numbers. You can also track their performance using CRM software.
Do you want to know how CRM software can improve your company’s sales performance? Then you can click here for a free demo.