In our previous blog article, 8 Daily Habits for a Healthy Sales Pipeline, we went over our top strategies for making sure you always have plenty of leads. But, how do you know which leads need which type of engagement? By identifying what type of leads are in your pipeline. 

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Here’s a list of different types of leads you’re most likely to have in your contacts: 

  • Inbound leads 
  • MQL/SQL leads 
  • Prospects 
  • Target account leads 
  • Friends and family leads
  • Event leads 
  • Referral leads 
  • Closed leads
  • Lost/dark/ghosted leads

Now, here are the lead type definitions and some tips for engagement. Enjoy!

Inbound leads

Inbound leads are people who’ve visited your website and have engaged with your content in some significant way. This engagement could be anything from reading your blog to filling out a call-to-action form to booking a meeting with your development team. 

Build in clear CTAs in your blogs, create helpful landing pages for your forms, and make sure you have a strong CRM like HubSpot to gather the data you need to reach out ASAP. 

MQL/SQL leads

A qualified lead meets your company’s criteria, or buyer persona attributes, and is more likely to buy than other leads. Specifically, a marketing qualified lead meets the objectives of your marketing team, while a sales qualified lead meets sales objectives.


Prospects are leads in the making. They fit the bill as a lead who normally buys from your business, but they haven’t engaged (yet!) with your website or other inbound channels.

Target account leads

These are contacts that are in specific targeted accounts or companies that you’re interested in doing business with. 

Remember that it’s best practice to qualify the companies first before you qualify the person who works there–and that the contact is in the appropriate department to help you get a sales decision made.  

Referral leads

These are golden leads and are much more likely to convert than any other because one of your current or past customers told them you were awesome. They are the most coveted of all leads, so making sure you nurture them according to their true value is key. Pull all the stops. 

Friends and family leads

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Leads you encounter who are already within your social network without prospecting for them are considered to be friends or family even if they’re not friends OR family. 

You most likely already know if they’re in need of what your business offers, and if they are, let them know that you’re there to help. 

An approach that’s aligned with your authentic intention to be of service is especially important. They’re people you genuinely care about, so coming across as just wanting to make a sale can be a mistake. Remember that your hopes are to help. 

Event leads

If you go to trade shows, conferences, or industry events, the leads you meet during your networking activities would be considered event leads. 

Often, you meet other people in sales, so it’s important to have a simple strategy for keeping your contacts organized by colleagues and leads. HubSpot’s Sales Hub has easy workflow automation for doing just that. 

Closed leads

Closed leads are those that became customers. If there are a lot in your contacts–congratulations! But before you delete them, remember: previous customers can still be considered leads if it’s possible for them to purchase your product or service again or at a different level. 

Consider whether or not there’s an upsell or cross-sell opportunity for them and reach out to them, if so.  

Lost/dark/ghosted leads

These are leads that you’ve contacted before but who’ve not bought from you after a good amount of time (that you should probably set for yourself if you haven’t already). 

You might feel the need to consider leads whose shelf life has just plain expired as “lost,” but are they really? Lost opportunities can sometimes still be opportunities. Even if these leads never become customers, they’re opportunities to understand how to improve your sales strategies. 

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