Common Mistakes Most Companies Make and How to Correct Them
When speaking with companies regarding the overall quality of the leads they receive via search (whether organic or paid), I hear common complaints. Examples include:
“The leads come in and we respond, but then we never hear back.”
“The leads are already talking to our competitors.”
“The leads don’t respond well to our proven sales process.”
All of these statements are often true, but the conclusion that is often drawn (that these leads are low-quality) usually is not. The truth is that there are critical differences between leads that are generated from a search query vs. leads that are generated from referrals and other sources, and that search leads are better served by a customized approach. Here we’ll discuss common mistakes most companies make with leads in three separate posts, including the primary reason why search leads are distinct from others, some common sales approaches that can hurt your chances with them, and then some relatively simple adjustments that can be made to better capitalize on them.
The Immediacy Factor
A huge upside of search leads is that they are largely comprised of prospects that are interested in your services right now. The downside of this is that these leads demand immediate attention if you want to increase your chances of landing them. The nature of search implies several things about these prospects:
- They are almost certainly also contacting your competitors
- They have set aside time to research your services right now
- They are likely to forget your name and brand after utilizing the initial contact mechanism on your site
Clearly, these can be high-value targets. So why are you missing on so many? It could be that you are treating these leads the same as you do all your other leads, when they call for a different approach.
Common Sales Practices that Hurt Performance
Inbound Form Leads
Search leads from forms on your website or landing pages can come in at any time of day and any time of the week. However, it’s common for salespeople to schedule all of their calls for a certain time of the day, or only on certain days of the week. For example, let’s assume that three inbound form leads come in throughout the day on a Wednesday. Your salesperson likes to get sales calls out of the way the first thing in the morning, so these people aren’t contacted until Thursday morning. However, we know that these leads are likely to have also contacted several of your competitors, and by this time they have probably talked to some. This delay can leave your company on the outside looking in, assuming that you are even able to get in contact.
I once met with a client who requested that we minimize the phone number on their website in order to direct more visitors to the online form. The rationale was that they felt that the people who sent in form leads were more likely to engage than those who called. I had a hard time accepting this as a blanket reality, so I put my phone on speaker and called the number we had designated for search leads. My client was horrified when the phone rang five times and then was answered by a voicemail that simply said, “This is Tony – you know what to do,” followed by a beep.
Most examples are not this egregious, but do you know how inbound calls from search leads are handled at your company? Are they funneled into the same general sales line as all other leads? Do callers have to go through an autoresponder with a series of options just to get someone to talk to them? If someone answers the phone, are they qualified to answer any questions the prospect might have? If nobody is available to answer questions about your services at the time of the call, is the caller given clear instructions on what information to leave, along with clear expectations of what will happen next?
Remember that the commonality of search leads, whether through form or call, is immediacy. These prospects are a back-click on their browser away from finding someone else, and the more obstacles you put in their path and the longer it takes you to engage them, the more likely they are to look elsewhere.