As a CRM Consultant, I have seen a lot of companies, even their Sales and Marketing Teams are mingled up in the confusion that what exactly is the difference between Lead and Opportunity. There is a thin-line difference between these two, but big enough to explain.
Leads in Salesforce are those people, whom you are interested in working with, but you don’t know if they are interested in working with you.
Leads may come from a purchase list, website enquiry form, some referral from happy customers, through information exchanges with partner companies etc. In either case, you need to communicate with the Lead to find out whether are interested into your product or service.
Salesforce provides lead management and lead tracking system, which uses a lead qualification process to track if your lead is qualified (could be customer) or unqualified (won’t be a customer).
The default Salesforce lead qualification process is:
Open- Not Contacted (the default lead tracking stage)
Working – Contacted
Closed – Not Converted
This information is tracked under the Lead Status field in Lead object.
Lead Status is made “Closed-Not Converted”, when the Lead has no possibility to do business within the period of time you have in mind. Lead Status is made “Closed-Converted”, then you have made the assessment that there is some interest on their part in doing business with you, so you want to start your sales process. You then Convert the Lead.
While it comes to the turn for opportunity, when should you convert the Lead to an opportunity?
First of all, converting the Lead into opportunity mainly depends on the Sales person. You can covert the Lead soon after it raises its hands and shows some interest in doing business.
Secondly, you can convert the Lead just after both sides have agreed for an official meeting.
Thirdly, who are absolutely interested in buying or doing business with you and agreed on the pricing. They are the ultimate indicator of interest in this area and are ready to be converted into opportunity.
When a Lead is “Converted”, it means that the Lead becomes a Contact (Person), an Account (Company) and an Opportunity (Potential Sale) in Salesforce CRM.
It is possible for a Lead to become a Contact and an Account without becoming an Opportunity, such as when they become part of your network but you don’t plan to sell to them. But for our example, if we want to generate revenue, a Lead becomes an Opportunity, as well as a Contact and an Account.
Salesforce acts as a Contact Management System and Sales Lead Tracking System, until a lead is Converted into an Opportunity. Once a lead is converted into an Opportunity, then Salesforce becomes a full sales management software solution.
Within the Opportunity object in Salesforce, there is a field ‘Stage’, which stores the concerned phases to close the deal. When you close the deal and get the business, the opportunity stage becomes “Closed–Won”.