Leads vs. Opportunities: What’s the Difference?

by | CRM Best Practices

Leads vs. Opportunities: What’s the Difference?

by | Jun 26, 2018 | CRM Best Practices

Those differences matter!

On past episodes of CRM 101, we’ve defined some important, entry-level CRM terms you’ll need to know as you begin your CRM exploration or implementation.

But I still often get asked the difference between a lead and an opportunity in CRM. So let’s dive into that today.


A lead is a contact or company in your system that has in some way indicated interest in your products or services, but has not yet been qualified by your marketing or sales teams. And so it’s really just this data or list of data that you might have, whether you’ve attracted that information from purchasing a lead list, going to a trade show, creating an online lead magnet, or however else. That lead is sitting inside of CRM and needs to be cultivated and promoted to become anything more than a lead.

So let’s just think of leads as little baby fish sitting in the guppy pond together. They have potential, but they aren’t ready to be fished out just yet.

Once you actually make contact and confirm interest, though, you can qualify or promote a lead. The fish is growing!

What that normally means is that you turn the lead into an account or customer or company, whatever you use as your main entity in CRM. And when you convert it, you’re then able to create an opportunity attached to that record.

So what’s an opportunity?



An opportunity is a potential sale. A qualified lead doesn’t specifically become an opportunity itself. A lead gets promoted to become an account, and the account has an opportunity attached to it.

So let’s say the lead is the baby fish. As you promote that lead through your sales pipeline, it turns into a big fish, and is worth fishing for. That big fish can have potential sales associated with it, which are opportunities.

So opportunities are just the potential sale itself. Opportunities aren’t the people or companies that we’re communicating with.

Additional opportunities are associated with existing customers for repeat sales (we can catch each fish more than once!), and they’re associated with prospects, because we hope to make a sale with them someday.

So there are all these opportunities that could be associated with those records, and each represents an opportunity to make a sale. We want those opportunities to be attached as soon as a lead gets promoted to an account or company record inside your CRM so we can work to close those sales. We can then in the future create new opportunities for further sales with existing customers.


To recap…

Leads are unqualified contacts or companies inside of your system. Once you qualify them, they become accounts or companies, depending on your CRM solution. And those accounts and companies can have multiple opportunities associated with them.

Need help organizing your contacts?

Request a free data quality consultation today! Our highly-experienced consultants will help you identify opportunities to improve your current record-keeping system and maximize the value of your information!

Mariam Florio is the director of CRM implementation at Azamba. She helps new users get up-and-running with their CRM solutions, and experienced users get more out of their systems.

Mariam has been a consultant in the software space for 16 years, and has spent the last 11 focused exclusively on CRM. She delivers intelligence, friendliness, and efficiency in every customer interaction.

Related articles: