Sales Leads: What exactly is “hot?"

5 min read

Your marketing campaign is doing exceptionally well and the leads are just flowing in! 

But before you pop the champagne and start celebrating your success, hit the pause button for a second. 

On average, only 25% of the leads you receive have the quality it takes to make it to being a closed sale. And while having lots of leads is great, because your ratio of quality ones rises too, it’s critical to be able to differentiate between the good, the bad, and the ehh.

The guide below will help you identify which leads are hot, warm, or cold.

Hot Leads

A hot lead is a qualified lead who is highly interested in your product or service and can be directly contacted to make the sale.

Identify them based on the following criteria:

  • They have a high level of interest - If the prospect already knows about your key product features or service details, that means they have already done some research and are interested in what you are offering. You don’t have to approach them with introductory information nor pitch them on why they should take a look at your solution. Meet them where they are and continue the conversation from there. 

  • They recognize the solution - Hot leads are aware of the problem/need they have and how your product/service can help solve/fulfill it. This is an indicator that they are already past the initial decision-making steps and are ready to buy.

  • They have the budget and authority to make the purchase - If either of these isn’t there, the lead is not hot. Investing your time would be fruitless, because they don’t have the means or power to make the decision.

  • They have a set timeframe. A hot lead won’t put off a purchase because they already know what they want and when they want it.

Warm Leads

These are individuals who have expressed interest in your business but may not be ready to buy at the moment. They may have exchanged information on your website to receive gated content or sent a “more information” request.

This type of lead is important to your sales process and, with the right moves, you can nurture and keep these leads around until they are ready to make a purchase. 

Ways to nudge warm leads along:

  • Respond quickly to information requests. If an individual requests more information about your product or service, provide it ASAP as you are probably not the only company they have contacted. Customers are significantly more likely to end up doing business with those companies that first respond to inquiries. 

  • Host product demos. Schedule a meeting with the prospect to demonstrate your product or service. It’s a great way to keep the lead engaged and keep your company top-of-mind.

  • Share customer success stories. Make sure to include case studies showcasing the wonderful results others have had with your business. Social validation can often turn warm leads hot. 

  • Present them with a limited-time special offer to create urgency. This can be a discount or bonus that the prospect will receive if they buy within a certain timeframe.

Cold Leads

A cold lead is someone who hasn’t shown interest in your product or service. You might have cold called or emailed them, or they could have once shown interest in your offering but have since been unresponsive to any sales outreach. 

Although these types of leads might seem like they aren’t worth it, if you have time and resources, it may be worthwhile to try to once again warm up cold leads. Just remember, these prospects aren’t your priority - hot and warm first!

Warm up cold leads by:

  • Focusing on relationship building. Establish yourself as an expert they can trust. This can be achieved through providing valuable free content. Eventually when they do need a product or service provider, you will be first on the list. 

  • Personalizing your messaging. Don’t send blanket, standardized messages to cold leads. Try to personalize them as much as possible to create a connection. People are more likely to engage with businesses that don’t seem robotic. 

  • Making sure you have the right contact. If you’ve had some initial contact, but the prospect has stopped responding to you, establish that they are indeed the right person to be talking to and, if not, ask them to connect you. 

How you approach warming up leads and closing sales will depend largely on your business model, but knowing where your prospect is on the hot to cold scale will help clarify the steps you need to take.


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