Cold Calling – Part 3: What is a Lead?

In my last post in this series, we learned that cold calling is considered the most ineffective method of lead generation. Still, calling prospects – be they hot, cold or warm – is required to generate leads. But what exactly is a lead, and what makes a good one?

For under-performing sales people with below-quota performance, every prospect that calls in, or whom they have even the slightest beginning of a conversation with, becomes a hot prospect in their pipeline. For companies that participate in trade shows, every person that scans their business card is also a strong qualified lead, right? The challenge is, at times, the prospect looks like this:

My question is: does this look like a professional with the ability to buy what you have to sell? Does he have power to move the buying process forward? Can he access unbudgeted and unallocated funds to pay for what you have to sell? Unlikely, I would say.

Nevertheless, pipelines are full of such leads. As soon as a prospect calls or expresses any interest in your product features, (s)he becomes a qualified one, with a smiling face and great potential, right!?.


A qualified lead and prospect is defined as a person with a known job title, working in a specific company you know something about, with an identified goal to achieve, a problem to solve, or a need to satisfy. When such a situation has been identified then, and only then, can a sales cycle start.

Now that we’ve got a clear understanding of who makes a good lead, it’s time to pick up the telephone. How can you use that phone to qualify the prospect, collect information about the company, and identify whether there is a goal to achieve, a problem to solve, or a need to satisfy? In our next post, we’ll outline a step-by-step, confidence-building roadmap to a great call.


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