online lead generation follow up for online marketing practices
The facts have indicated for many years that most of the online leads generated by marketing efforts are wasted. This is true across the board for nearly every industry.  For small to mid-sized businesses facing the challenge of growth, you may be wondering: “How can I fix this?”

Honestly, it’s quite simple: you have to follow up with your online leads like they mean something to you.

Be fast.

For some reason, many sales people take an approximate 48 hours to return a call to a lead. In terms of customer service, that’s just plain rude. It’s the same thing as someone pushing the “help me” button at Target – and having to wait two days for someone to come help.  Would you wait that long for someone to help?  I’d just go somewhere else – and so will your online leads.

In short, a quick response increases the chance of lead conversion.

In terms of successful lead conversion, “short” means under 1 minute.

Be Persistent.

Whether your lead contacted you via phone, email, or through an online form, it is important to follow up more than once.  Studies have shown that this return phone call is only attempted 1.3 times. That’s not enough.

The fact that your sales team is using a phone to communicate with leads doesn’t mean that they cannot display the same helpful courtesy that is experienced in upscale department stores. Follow up in a genuinely friendly manner.  Then follow up again.  And again.

Never make it about the sale (“Have you decided yet if you want our contractors to install a new roof yet?”). Always make it about the needs of the customers (“Hey, I was thinking about what you told me about your old roof. We have a great brochure that covers the different new roof types available.  I can mail it to you – or drop it off at your place, if you have more questions”).

Having the stamina to stick with a lead through the 6-12 phone calls/emails/etc required to close the deal means that you have to lose the Sleazy Salesman mentality and start looking at this as an opportunity to help someone make an informed decision.

In terms of courtesy, learn to distinguish “I’m not ready yet” from “NO.” Refusing to take a solid NO for an answer is both disrespectful and poor business practice.  Don’t push a lead to the point of having to say no.  Your sales process should be able to determine whether they are ready to make a sale or not long before they feel compelled to shut the door in your face.

Pull the Right Information

If the only information you pull from your leads is an email address, you have no way of knowing if they’re ready to convert into a client or not. On the other hand, asking for a full address, phone number, and social security information all at once is likely to scare away many prospective leads.

Determine the main turning points of your sales funnel and the information you need at each step to qualify a lead:

Beginningfree information!

Blog articles, website landing pages, case studies, etc. – all of these are basic, free information that help to get potential leads interested in your company. These pages should have a CTA that highlights the “next logical step” which is:

The Deeper Partgimme your email!

Free downloads, blog (and newsletter) subscriptions – anything that adds a bit of depth to your business and contains information that any client of yours would be interested in.  Definitely ask for an email address, but no more.  If they want to know more, they can go to the next stage:

The “I’m Interested” Stagename & phone number/email and address, where applicable

This portion of the sales funnel is directed towards those who are seriously interested in connecting with a person at your business.  They’ve done their research and are ready to talk.

If you don’t have anyway of identifying each stage, your sales team will waste time pursuing those who are “just interested” instead of those who are wanting to do business.

Don’t Forget About Them.

Some leads are not ready to commit for a variety of reasons. For these cases, develop a protocol for following through by utilizing a variety of tactics.  Email newsletters, free offers, a card in the mail – all great ways to “nurture” the lead. Giving them great, relevant, free information helps to shape their perception of you.  A well-nurtured lead will quickly seek out your services when they are ready to take advantage of what you have to offer.

Be Generous.

Be generous with your time. Offer free resources online. Give out coupons and promotions. Prove to your leads & customers that you aren’t just in it for you.  Acting with generosity helps to establish genuine trust and loyalty – a fundamental component to customer retention.

Communicate Clearly.

Don’t try to sneak under the radar and trick someone into signing something they didn’t mean to. That’s called fraud.  Utilizing transparent business practices help your company to become an established resource within your local and extended community.

Tell customers outright what your services/products are all about.  Tell them what signing their name will actually mean. Be fare and treat clients honestly – and hire employees who can be trusted to do the same.

Start a Cycle of Success Now

Spend time training your sales staff in better habits and practices. Go undercover and test the sales process to learn where your online leads are being dropped or inadvertently turned away.  There’s always room for improvement!

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Maria Myre - Author Bio