What are business leads and how do they impact a company

Yuriy Boyko
Yuriy Boyko
Reading time:13 m

No leads, no business — it’s that simple. Leads are like oxygen to any company — without them, it can’t survive. Everyone seems to recognize this simple truth, but there is still a lot of misunderstanding in terms of their importance, capturing, and scaling, as well as how to convert them into clients. In fact, you may be asking:

  • What are business leads?
  • Why does your business need them?
  • Why is creating a stable flow of new business leads important?
  • How do you get more leads?
  • And what do you do when you get them?

In this guide, the Belkins team will walk you through this topic and help you answer all related questions. Let’s dive in!

What is a business lead?

A business lead is a person or organization that has expressed interest in your product or service and is seen as a potential customer.

Basically, we can define a business lead as the starting point of the sales funnel. This lead requires further nurturing to convert into a paying customer.

What is an example of a business lead?

To help you better understand the concept and different types of leads in business, let’s go through a few hypothetical situations.

Example 1

We’ll start with John. He’s a marketing manager who downloads a free e-book on content marketing by submitting his contact information on a landing page.

What could you do after this?

Send an automated email to John thanking him for downloading the e-book. Ask him a few questions about his current marketing strategies and his biggest pain points. This will help you determine his level of interest.

You can also offer John more valuable content, such as webinars, case studies, or free trials, that will help him solve his marketing challenges and educate him about your products.

📌 Belkins tip: Collect full name, job title, phone number, and company in your lead capture form. Use this data to send lead nurturing and retargeting campaigns.

HubSpot gathers your full name, phone number, email, website URL, company name, and employee count before you can access their gated content.

Collect lead data through gated content

Example 2

Here we have Sarah. She’s a small-business owner who signs up for a trial and requests a product demo.

Offer Sarah exclusive content with the help of lead nurturing campaigns. Also, personalize emails based on her business needs captured in the welcome screen of the signup flow. You can do this through simple mail merge steps, to automate the whole process and make it less time consuming

📌 Note: B2B lead generation for small business differs from that of big companies, requiring a unique approach.

Example 3

Mike is an SEO expert who completes a survey on your business’s website. After Mike finishes the survey, he’ll see the thank-you page. This is the pivotal moment: Don’t let him disappear now!

Invite him to subscribe to your newsletter. Mention that he’ll receive regular updates on industry news, trends, and the best product offerings. Consider offering him a bonus as well. It could be a discount on his next purchase or access to exclusive content for subscribing.

HubSpot uses the thank-you page to invite readers to get started with the CRM for free


What makes a good sales lead?

A good sales lead displays a genuine need for your service by filling out a contact form, requesting a product demo, signing up for a trial, reaching the “aha!” moment, etc. They also have the budget and the authority to make a purchase.

Targeting high-quality leads that meet specific criteria can be a game changer for sales teams looking to convert prospects into customers.

How do you identify a qualified lead?

1. Fit

To uncover the best sales leads, you need to go beyond the surface level and look for perfect matches. Seek prospects who fit your target demographics, industry, job title, and company size. Break down your ICP and assign scores as you see in the example below.

Demographic Lead input Score
Job level/Seniority VP + the most points (15)
  Director + 2nd most points (8)
  Manager + few points (6)
Most important factor HR + the most points (15)
  Finance + 2nd most points (10)
  Legal + few points (2)
Employee size 250-499 + the most points (5)
  500-999 + 2nd most points (4)
  1,000-5,000 + few points (3)
Company type B2B + the most points (10)
  B2C + 2nd most points (7)
  Non-profit - negative points (-5)

Source: SnapApp

2. Need/Interest

Stop targeting just anyone who shows up on your radar; not every prospect is good. Go after those who have already shown a real interest in your offer. Identify prospects who have visited your website, attended a webinar, or responded to an email and engage with them to nurture those relationships.

📚 Relevant article: Learn more about implicit data sources in our article on lead scoring for B2B.

3. Budget

Don’t settle for just any interested party. What will you get from someone who just likes your offer? Nothing — until they’re willing to make a purchase. In other words, you need to target prospects who not only have the financial resources to afford what you’re offering but are also excited to invest in it.

4. Authority

Focus on leads who can actually make the decision to buy. Look for the key decision-makers in a company and influencers who can either approve or veto a purchase, then make them your priority.

5. Timing

You want to work with leads who are ready to take action. In other words, don’t waste your time on tire kickers who don’t have a specific time frame in mind.

Using these 5 criteria, you can quickly assess if a prospect is a good fit for your offering and their likelihood of purchasing soon.

📌 Belkins tip: To help you qualify a B2B lead, use the SPIN methodology or CHAMP and MEDDIC frameworks.

Here’s a great example of SPIN questions that can help you qualify a lead:

SPIN questions sample


Why does your business need leads?

In a nutshell, not all leads will become paying customers, but without leads, no sales are possible. Remember: Every customer starts as a lead.

On top of that, there are other benefits that come with sales lead generation. While every lead is a potential paying customer, it is also a possible referral. Simply put, every lead who eventually buys from you can potentially refer you to others, thus guiding even more leads to your B2B lead generation funnel.

When you generate business leads, you acquire new clients and drive sales. Respectively, leads propel your business’s growth, scalability, sustainability, and, most importantly, profitability. These are the main reasons why your business needs leads.

How to get leads for your business

In this part of our guide, we will share best ways to get B2B leads.

  1. Social selling on LinkedIn: This platform is 277% more effective at generating leads than Facebook and Twitter. To succeed, the sales team needs to know how to set appointments with leads found on social networks.

Graph: best social networks for B2B lead generation


  1. Sponsored ads: Creating paid campaigns can yield nearly 100% ROI. However, while you can target leads more accurately, success still depends on the quality of your strategy.
  2. Referrals: Deliver excellent customer experiences and encourage customers to refer others to your brand.
  3. Cold outreach: Outline your ideal customers, refine your value proposition, and spread the word about your products through emails. Craft personalized messages with a powerful call to action to convert leads into customers. Professional cold email outreach company can help.
  4. Content: Your content marketing examples can serve as powerful lead magnets that hook readers’ attention, help you build authority, and earn trust. When you have all of these, you get a chance to convert prospects into customers.
  5. Retargeting: This strategy works great when you have website visitors who demonstrate interest but don’t take action. By retargeting your ads to these users, you stay on their radar.
  6. Buying leads: This strategy can work well if you want numerous top-tier leads without much effort. Buy B2B leads from legitimate distributors and focus on your lead-qualification and follow-up strategies.

What to do when you get new business leads

So you’ve generated lots of business leads. What’s next? As you may have guessed, this is just the beginning of the sales process, so there are still a few more steps that you should take.

This process includes 3 stages:

  • Lead research
  • Lead qualifying
  • Lead nurturing

All fall under the umbrella term “lead management.”

Lead management process

The lead management process is the system you use to source and organize leads. This helps ensure you effectively follow up with potential clients and maximizes your closure chances.

Lead research

The first step in the lead management process is to research sales leads. You’ve got to dive deep into the potential client’s world to gather details about their needs and preferences.

When Belkins develops an ideal customer profile for a client and performs lead research, we create detailed lead analytics that include a breakdown of location, industry, and job title.

This approach allowed us to generate a whopping 6,600 leads and open a new market for a supply chain optimization company.

Lead analytics by Belkins for cold email outreach

Lead qualifying

During this stage, you evaluate leads based on certain criteria and scores to determine whether they are sales ready. This allows you to focus your efforts on the leads with the highest likelihood of closing the sales deal.

Lead qualification scorecard


Lead nurturing

Now it’s time to lay the groundwork for a lasting relationship. This is where you must provide potential clients with valuable resources that make them say, “Yes. I need it. I’ll take it. I can benefit from it.”

It’s a great chance to showcase case studies and data-driven content and demonstrate how your product can resolve their pain points. Altogether, lead nurturing results in more sales qualified prospects in your pipeline and more revenue generated.

Map out your next lead-nurturing email campaign


Types of leads 

Cold leads

These leads have shown no previous interest in your offering. They may have come across your company by chance or through a listicle, but they haven’t actively engaged with your brand.

Cold leads require the most effort to convert, but don’t ignore them either. With the right tactics, they can also present a great opportunity for growth. 

📌 Case in point: Belkins brought 48 appointments and 5 deals in 4 months for a software development company by targeting C-level executives with cold email outreach. In turn, 4 deals resulted in $900,000 new projected revenue.

Warm leads

Warm leads are people who have already shown interest in your company. For instance, they may have visited your website or engaged with your social media. Warm leads require less effort to convert than cold leads, but they still need to be nurtured to become customers.

Hot leads

Hot leads are people exhibiting a strong interest in your company’s offer. They may have reached out to your company directly and requested a demo or a quote. Or maybe they even made a purchase in the past.

Hot leads are the easiest to convert and present the best opportunities for immediate revenue.

Information qualified leads (IQL)

IQLs engage with your content but have no interest in your product (yet). They may download a white paper or a case study or subscribe to your newsletter. IQLs require nurturing to become MQLs.

Marketing qualified leads (MQL)

MQLs are leads that show a high level of interest in your product and have engaged with your brand multiple times. MQLs are typically passed on to the sales team for further follow-up.

Sales ready/accepted leads (SRL)

Sales ready leads (SRLs), or sales qualified leads (SQLs), are prospects qualified by the sales team as being ready to purchase. They may have had a demo, a phone call, or even an in-person meeting with a sales rep. SRLs present a high opportunity for conversion and revenue.

Should I buy leads?

Sounds like a tempting solution. But before you go all in on buying leads, weigh up a few factors to make sure you get a good ROI.

First, assess the pricing structures of different lead providers. Determine which one offers the best value for your money. Next, evaluate the quality and quantity of leads. Once you have clear goals, you can easily choose the right provider for your business.

Exclusivity is another critical factor to consider. Why? Exclusive leads are sold only to you and offer greater value than nonexclusive ones, which can be sold several times. Belkins, for instance, searches for leads using a tailored approach to their clients’ ICPs and specific market goals.

Take the time to research and read customer reviews to identify a reputable provider. Purchase leads only from a legitimate source, as scammers can easily sell outdated data lists or fake prospects by populating fake emails and LinkedIn profiles.

How much do companies pay for leads?

The average cost per lead for B2B lead generation is $198. However, various pricing structures in the market can affect cost, including the offer type and lead quality.

A popular pricing structure among B2B lead generation agencies is the retainer model, in which clients receive a range of services like social selling, cold email, and LinkedIn outreach. The benchmark is $5,000 monthly and can be up to $15,000 per month.

You can also find the cost-per-lead model. It varies widely across industries but generally ranges from $40 to $190 per lead. The definition of a lead can also vary, from form-fill leads shared with competitors to exclusive leads only sent to your sales team.

If you’re considering outsourcing your appointment setting, expect the cost per appointment to be anywhere from $150 to $350.

The graph shows the average cost per lead by company type


Lead generation trends & benchmarks

Finally, let’s look at the latest lead generation trends and benchmarks to help you stay ahead of the game.

Forms remain a popular way to get potential customer information

If you thought that forms were old news, think again. Even in the age of cutting-edge marketing strategies, tools like expanded-contact and demo-request forms remain popular for generating leads.

In fact, according to Ruler Analytics, 84% of marketers use forms to generate leads.

Forms perform the best for gathering lead information

Don’t underestimate the power of LinkedIn

You’d be hard-pressed to find a marketer who doesn’t love LinkedIn — it’s the ultimate powerhouse for B2B lead generation. According to a LinkedIn study, 40% of B2B marketers perceive LinkedIn as the most effective channel. 

💡 Expandi for LinkedIn B2B lead generation — reach, engage and follow-up with LinkedIn leads to book meetings without getting your account suspended.

Enjoy the benefits of marketing automation

Nearly half of all companies are now using marketing automation tools in their efforts to reach customers. This trend is not without reason, as a report by VB Insight revealed that a whopping 80% of businesses who use automation software are generating significantly more leads.

In addition to that, 77% of these savvy marketers are also converting more leads than those who do not use automation.

A breakdown of an advanced lead-nurturing campaign by Apsis (1)

A breakdown of an advanced lead-nurturing campaign by Apsis (2)


So with all that information, you now have a solid foundation of what business leads are and how you can use them to benefit your business. And as you probably noted, the better you qualify your leads on the front end, the easier the execution of subsequent steps will be.

If you want to grow your business by creating a stable flow of sales-qualified leads, Belkins offers a wide range of services to help you maximize the outcomes. Don’t hesitate to let our experts help you — book your call today.

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Yuriy Boyko
Yuriy Boyko
Head of Account Management at Belkins
Yuriy has been working in the B2B sales sector for more than a decade. His approach is the integration of scientific methods combined with thinking out of the box, allowing to achieve the highest results in any industry.