A Lead in marketing and sales is an individual or organization that has shown interest in a company’s products or services.

Leads are potential customers who have engaged with a business in some way, such as by filling out a contact form, subscribing to a newsletter, downloading content, or expressing interest through social media.

The term is used to identify those in the initial stages of the customer journey and potentially become paying customers through further nurturing and engagement.1

Visual Representation:

lead visual representation


Identifying and nurturing leads increases the likelihood of converting them into paying customers.

By understanding their needs, preferences, and behavior, businesses can tailor their marketing and sales strategies to effectively guide leads through the sales funnel.

This process helps build a relationship with potential customers and enhances the efficiency of the sales cycle, ensuring that resources are invested in the most promising prospects.2

Types of Leads:

  1. Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL): A lead that has engaged with marketing efforts but is not ready to receive a sales call. This could be due to their interaction with content, downloading resources, or subscribing to a newsletter.
  2. Sales Qualified Lead (SQL): A lead that has shown enough interest and fits the criteria to be contacted by the sales team for potential conversion.
  3. Product Qualified Lead (PQL): A lead that has used a product (often through a free trial) and has shown interest in becoming a paying customer.
  4. Service Qualified Lead: A lead that has indicated their interest in becoming a paying customer for a service. 3

Importance of Leads:

Leads are fundamental to the success of sales and marketing strategies.

They provide a pool of potential customers that businesses can nurture and convert, directly impacting revenue and growth.

Effective lead generation and management are key to maintaining a healthy sales pipeline and achieving business objectives. 4


Focusing on leads brings numerous benefits to businesses.

It allows for more targeted and personalized marketing efforts, leading to higher engagement rates.

By nurturing leads, sellers can build trust and credibility, making it easier to convert them into customers.

Additionally, a well-managed lead generation and nurturing process can result in a higher return on investment, as resources are directed toward prospects with the highest potential for conversion.5


In the online sales industry, leads are often generated through various online channels such as landing pages, social media, and email marketing.

Businesses use lead magnets—valuable content or offers provided in exchange for contact information—to attract and capture leads.

Once captured, leads are nurtured through automated email sequences, targeted content, and personalized outreach to guide them toward making a purchase.


Imagine a company that sells online courses.

They create a free eBook related to one of their course topics and promote it on their website and social media channels.

A visitor interested in the topic provides their email address to download the eBook and become a lead.

The company then sends a series of educational emails, sharing additional resources and information about the course.

Over time, the lead gains trust in the company’s expertise and purchases the course, converting from a lead to a customer.

Related Terms:


1. What is a lead in marketing?: Wrike Marketing Guide. Versatile & Robust Project Management Software. (n.d.). https://www.wrike.com/marketing-guide/faq/what-is-a-lead-in-marketing/

2. Martin, Tom. The invisible sale: How to build a digitally powered marketing and sales system to better prospect, qualify and close leads. Que Publishing, 2013. https://www.amazon.com/Invisible-Sale-Digitally-Marketing-Prospect-ebook/dp/B00FEJCVRC/

3. Negi, S. (2023, December 13). MQL vs. SQL vs. PQL: What’s the difference? Blog. https://www.salesmate.io/blog/mql-vs-sql-vs-pql/

4. Williams, B. (2023, November 13). Why is lead generation important to business?. Lead Genera. https://leadgenera.com/knowledge-hub/lead-generation/why-is-lead-generation-important-to-business/

5. 9 benefits of lead generation that drive success. Sendoso. (n.d.). https://core.sendoso.com/demand-generation/benefits-of-lead-generation/ 

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