Most worlds have a subset of definitions for terms that perhaps you have another understanding for. In the world of Dynamics CRM the term LEAD and the term PROSPECT are actually very different.
So What is a Lead?
A lead is a hint, a potential and an unqualified set of data. The data usually contains a person's name, sometimes the company they work for and maybe some initial information such as a phone number and address. A lead can can from many sources including purchased lists of name, trade show events, advertising, or direct calling. A lead generally is not HOT, but is still being reviewed. There is not much history on leads; although there might be if you are watching a lead from afar. The structure of a lead in Dynamics CRM is flat. One record.
And what is a prospect?
A prospect on the other hand is more qualified. A prospect is more formal. The structure of a prospect in Dynamics CRM is hierarchical and might contain not only a contact and an account record, but also numerous contacts, an opportunity and even assigned potential products. History can be found on these contacts rolling up to the prospect. You might also have a long list of activities or a sales process that you are following on a prospect. A prospect is qualified, known and many times is being actively worked.
If a prospect is associated to an opportunity then there is an associated timeline that has a process that ends with either a signed deal (as they become a client or customer) or with a loss. A loss that can be reported on, analysized and then used to improve processes.
And what is an Opportunity? (ah material for the next post)