As written by Timothy Rushforth, Owner of Rush4th Consulting
When I Googled the definitions of lead and prospects it came back with over 12,000,000 hits. Is it any wonder there’s some confusion out there?

Over the last thirty plus years in the automotive sector, I have come across every conceivable interpretation (or abuse depending upon how you look at it) of the classification of

(a) someone whose details you’ve got hold of (whether they know it or not) 


(b) someone you believe you can sell a car to

These range from: enquiry, inquiry, target, lead, prospect, business partner, client and more. Not only are there a plethora of names for what are essentially two categories of people/companies, they are then arranged differently. Some say a lead comes before a prospect and others visa versa.

For time’s sake, let’s dispense with the ‘specialty’ terms like business partner and client, as they’re questionably not even automotive, and deal with the lead and prospect classifications.


Definition of sales lead: Inquiry, referral, or other information, obtained through advertisements or other means that identifies a potential customer (prospect).


So, according to, you have to be a lead first in order to become a potential (qualified) prospect.

Good start.


In marketing, lead generation is the initiation of consumer interest or inquiry into products or services of a business. Leads can be created for purposes such as list building, e-newsletter list acquisition or for sales leads.


Heading in the right direction.



Definition of a prospect: Potential customer or client qualified on the basis or his or her buying authority, financial capacity, and willingness to buy.


Excellent, clear and concise.


Definition of a prospect continued: Also called sales lead.





Example: Sales use various techniques to generate leads such as cold-calling, direct mailing, telephoning, emailing and references to locate prospects for their products.



That’s better, using various techniques to find leads that can be prospects. So prospects come from leads…


Prospect [noun]
Something that can develop or become actual.
Source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary


There we have it:

A lead is something to follow, with a view of qualifying them as a prospect, so you can sell a vehicle to them.

Don’t know what all the fuss was about.

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