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Leads & opportunities - what's the difference?

News Leads & opportunities - what's the difference?

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Leads & opportunities - what's the difference?

Our Salesforce Delivery Manager, James Cooke, talks us through the differences between Salesforce leads and opportunities.

Sales terminology can be a bit of minefield... Leads? Opportunities? Prospects? Lines can be blurred and it can be difficult for new sales representatives to quickly pick up a new CRM system. Fortunately, Salesforce's Sales Cloud makes this easy and supports your sales processes with clearly defined leads and opportunities.

What are Salesforce Leads?

Salesforce Definition

In the Salesforce glossary;

A lead is a sales prospect who has expressed interest in your product or company.

This is a fairly loose term, so let's discuss this in more detail.


In Sales Cloud, there are a number of standard fields provided for leads and these are based around three other objects in Salesforce / Sales Cloud.

  • Account - An account is an organisation, company, or consumer that you want to track. For example a customer, partner, or competitor.
  • Contact - Contacts are individuals associated with your accounts.
  • Opportunities - Opportunities track our sales and pending deals.

Leads are incredibly useful for capturing information in one place, allowing you to store information about the person (contact) you spoke with, the company (account) they work for and the products or services they're interested in (opportunity). Not only is it easy to capture a lead, but being one record in your Org (a single lead, rather than a contact, company and opportunity), it's lighter on your data limits and saves time.

Once a lead has been recorded, more functionality comes into play such as the (Lightning only) Path, which can be configured to support your sales team in capturing the relevant information at the right time, as well as providing guidance for success.

Salesforce lead

Once you've reconnected with your lead and they're now showing an active interest in purchasing from you (or maybe your competitors too!) it's time to convert, which couldn't be easier! Simply click the 'convert' button, choose whether to create new records or link to old (we'll discuss this another time), and off you go!

What is Salesforce Opportunities?

Leads are fantastic for quickly capturing information without obstructing your database with those dreadful 'nearly' or 'kind of interested' moments. Opportunities are the next logical step as they are of much greater value.

Salesforce Definition

Referring back to the Salesforce glossary;

Opportunities track your sales and pending deals.

Another short and simple definition, but this is clearly different from a lead. Let's explore further.


There are many skills involved in sales and whilst attributes and attitude can be critical to the success of a sales rep, some have greater skills in certain areas. Here are a couple of those skills.

  • Lead generation and prospecting - Finding new people or businesses of interest, making the first contact and pursuing them until they are qualified and interested in your products or services.
  • Closing - With the decision makers identified, these 'closers' can pursue the sale typically with the ability to greater justify the benefits and value of the solution, leading to the closing of the sale.

Lead generation and prospecting is focused in the lead object of Sales Cloud, the pursuit of the sale is managed within the opportunity.

Opportunities hold some similar and greater information than a lead. The contact created by the lead conversion becomes the primary contact in the contact roles related list. Here you can store the decision maker(s), influencer(s), buyer(s) and so on.

Quotes hang off the back of opportunities and you can have multiple quotes related to a single opportunity. This allows for the creation of PDF documents holding your branding, terms, and the products the client requires. If there are multiple renditions of the quote, you can choose which quote record is correct and synchronise this with the opportunity, updating the products and amount on the opportunity record.


As you have now learnt, leads and opportunities are separated by not only the information held on them but where they are used in the sales process. If this is the first time you're reaching out to a prospect, they're a lead. If you're in negotiation or on the verge of submitting a quotation, they're an opportunity.

We love leads as they are an easy and effective way of capturing inbound enquiries from a website (with web-to-lead), over the phone or from business cards. They don't clog up the system with 'maybe' data and by doing this they provide more value to the opportunities held within Salesforce.

There are many more features of opportunities and leads, be sure to check out our blogs for future information.

If you're wanting to get more out of Salesforce, get in touch with our certified consultants today.

Contact us now

If you're looking to get up and running with Sales Cloud, check out our Quick Start, engineered to get you up and running fast with core features, such as leads and opportunities.

Want to learn more about Salesforce? Read our related articles:

Written By James Cooke

Salesforce Delivery Manager

As Salesforce Delivery Manager, James is responsible for any Salesforce projects, consultancy and training within Solutions. He supports the strategic development of our Salesforce business and is our go-to-guy for anything Salesforce related.

James joined Solutions in February 2018 as a CRM Consultant. James has progressed his career within Solutions, becoming a Salesforce Certified Sales Cloud Consultant as well as a Salesforce Certified Administrator.

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