A lead is basically a person that has contact information that you should be able to sell to, they have been created because they have contacted you in someway with some sort of need whether this be that they filled out a contact form on your website or they exchanged business cards with somebody at a tradeshow. A lead does not have to be somebody that has purchasing authority, it could simply be somebody that has reached out the organization. Always make sure that the Lead Source has been set and that there’s a clear way of knowing what they have done.
An Opportunity is a deal that you could win or lose. Simply put, an opportunity is basically a lead that has been qualified (in Salesforce terms converted) for some reason. Most organizations convert the lead as soon as they believe its possible to sell to that lead. Qualification criteria could be anything really but it’s most likely something like BANT or ANUM and an expected close date.
Companies have different beliefs on what an Opportunity is. Having a clear definition of what a lead is versus what an opportunity is clarifies reporting and expectations and can help improve the relationship between sales and marketing.
In most companies leads follow a process like this to become qualified
- Basic Contact Information has been received – Lead is created.
- Sales person or marketing automation reaches out and confirms there’s some sort of interest in the product or company. (Established Need)
- Sales person confirms that this person / company has authority to make a purchasing decision.
- Opportunity is created & Close Date for Deal is Established.
- Quote / Deal Won.
In Salesforce, one of the core differences between a lead and an opportunity is that the lead has contact information and is relatively basic. Very few of the standard objects have a relationship with a lead, the opportunity has quite a few standard objects that are related to it. When a Lead is converted, whether it’s converted manually or automatically, a new account, contact, and opportunity can be created.