Cold, Warm, and Hot Leads


Categorization of leads into cold, warm, and hot helps salespersons and business development reps be effective at their jobs.

They can now deal with and progress a high volume of leads systematically towards opportunities.

In the earlier post Sales vs. Marketing, we described the overall marketing and sales conversion:

Suspects → Prospects → Opportunities → Customers

In other posts, we demystified Suspects vs. Prospects, Prospects vs. Leads, and Leads vs. Opportunities.

In this post, we explain and clarify the concepts of cold, warm, and hot leads within the above marketing and sales conversion framework.

Cold Leads are Targets and Suspects

You may be a business development representative (BDR) responsible for generating leads.

Or you may be a sales representative (SR) responsible for end-to-end sales, where you both generate leads and close sales.

Whether you are a BDR or SR, your starting points in your sales efforts are individuals or companies who have not contacted you or your company.

Or with whom the last communication was a while ago.

Either way, the individuals or companies you start with are cold leads.

Although cold, the leads you start with must be targets that fit the ideal customer profile (ICP) and buyer personas for your offering defined by marketing.

Also, your cold leads or targets are suspects in that they may not be interested in buying your offering, to begin with.

Warm Leads are Prospects

Once you approach cold leads and start communicating with them, their interest (or lack thereof) will become evident to you sooner or later.

When their interest is revealed to you, those leads are no longer cold. They are warm.

Also, leads that are interested in your offering are prospects.

Hot Leads are Qualified Prospects and Opportunities

Prospects are interested in your offering but that does not mean they are the right opportunities for you and your organization to pursue.

You have to qualify prospects in order to move further ahead with them and invest valuable company time, money, and resources towards sales closures.

When you qualify your prospects, they become hot leads and the right opportunities for you and your organization to pursue.

The Bottom-line

Go ahead and start to organize your leads into cold, warm, and hot leads and progress them into opportunities at the fastest pace.

Or into suspects, prospects, and qualified prospects.

The two methods are one and the same.

Cold Leads → Warm Leads → Hot Leads

Suspects → Prospects or Leads → Qualified Prospects or Leads

Check out more videos on Cold, Warm and Hot Leads on our YouTube channel.

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