Lead vs Referral: What's the difference?

Throughout business and networking events, you most likely hear the terms “Lead” and “Referral” used a lot. There are many different types of groups, and some networking groups boast that they pass quality referrals, not just leads. When I first heard that, it didn’t mean much to me, as I wasn’t familiar with the actual difference between the two.

What is the difference between a lead and a referral?

A lead is a contact that can come from virtually any source. A ‘lead’ means someone that is generally not expecting your call, but could greatly benefit from your product. It could be someone who is actively looking for your service, or it could be someone who has a need for your service but doesn’t know it yet.

A referral, on the other hand, means that you have an introduction. The prospect is usually expecting your call, and often times has been informed about your product and endorsed by someone the prospect trusts.

Different Quality Referrals

There are varying levels of quality among referrals. The lowest level being you are authorized to use the name of someone that the prospect knows. You have not been given an introduction, yet you are able to use the name of a person they trust, and that person will verify it if necessary.

The next level is when a person you know actually informs a prospect about your service and the prospect is interested in what you offer. This is a much higher quality, as your prospect has already been informed about your service and been given a recommendation.

The best type of referral, which we all love, is one that is basically a closed sale. This is when someone talks to a prospect for you and closes the sale, so by the time you get around to talking to them, there is little selling to be done.


Chris LaMorte

Chris LaMorte is a Digital Marketing and User Experience expert. He started in the industry when he was 13 years old and has been obsessed with online marketing ever since. In 2015, he founded Web Chimpy. Since then, Chris LaMorte has served over 100 clients and gotten great results that have helped businesses grow.

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