The nature of search implies a few things about these prospects: They are almost certainly also contacting your competitors. 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, we know that these leads are likely to have also contacted several of your competitors, and by Thursday they will have probably talked to some. Most examples are not that egregious, but do you know how inbound calls from search leads are handled at your company? Again: the commonality of search leads, whether through form or call, is immediacy. For example, "Thank you for contacting us! Typically, people searching for particular services may submit a form, see a standard submission confirmation, and move on to the next search result. As I already mentioned, most companies treat leads from search no differently from leads from other sources. If you can route search leads directly to a line that is answered by a knowledgeable representative, you will go a long way toward getting on the lead's short list. If search leads must be sent to voicemail, use the same philosophy as with form submission confirmations (above).
When speaking with companies regarding the overall quality of the leads they receive via search (whether organic or paid), I hear common complaints:
“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.”
Those concerns are often true, but the conclusion that’s often drawn—that search leads are low-quality—usually is not.
The truth is that there are critical differences between leads that are generated from a search query and leads that are generated from referrals and other traditional sources. Search leads are better served by a customized selling approach.
This article will discuss the primary reason search leads are distinct from others, review some common sales approaches that can hurt your chances with them, and then discuss some relatively simple adjustments you can make to better capitalize on search leads.
The Immediacy Factor
A huge upside of search leads is that they are largely composed of prospects who are interested in your services right now. The downside is that these leads demand immediate attention if you want to increase your chances of landing them.
The nature of search implies a few 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 using the initial contact mechanism on your site.
Clearly, these leads 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, whereas they call for a different approach.
Common Sales Practices That Hurt Performance
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 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 those leads aren’t contacted until Thursday morning. However, we know that these leads are likely to have also contacted several of your competitors, and by Thursday they will have probably talked to some.
That delay can leave your company on the outside looking in, assuming that you are even able to get in contact at all.
I once met with a client who requested that we minimize the use of the business phone number on the company website in order to direct more visitors to the online form. The rationale was that the people who sent in form leads were more likely to engage than those who called.
I had a hard time accepting that 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 that 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?
Again: the commonality of…