On paper, you’ve done all your digital marketing right. You’ve optimized your SEO. You’ve launched an ad campaign. You’ve analyzed your competitors, mapped a customer journey, and highlighted the pain points of your potential clients and how you plan on addressing them.
You’ve incorporated every buzzword and acronym your business guru (or the host of a business YouTube channel) told you to include in your sales and growth strategies.
And now you’re seeing those efforts pay off: you’ve attracted real sales leads for your business.
They have a demand, you have the supply. They have a problem, you have the solution. It’s like you were made for each other. One call leads to another, and another. Sales seem within reach. Now all you need to do is reel them in….
Aaaand they’ve decided to go in a different direction.
Truthfully, you may never reach a definitive answer.
Instead of endlessly sifting through hypotheticals, a better question to ask yourself may be:
“Was this person really the perfect customer? Or was I just chasing a sale? Did I neglect to realize that, in reality, we weren’t right for each other?”
In the all-consuming chase after revenue, it can be easy for businesses to overlook the obvious. Sometimes, you may even convince yourself that you can adequately serve everyone who comes knocking at your proverbial door.
Losing a lead so close to the finish line can be a major disappointment. But it doesn’t indicate failure on your part.
It’s kind of like the opposite of that old adage about having loved and lost. Better to lose a potential customer altogether than to find them feeling unhappy and underserved months later.
Why leads walk away
Leads are potential customers who, while they may have expressed interest in your product or service, have yet to decide whether they would like to do business with you. To bring them to the next step, you have to persuade them. Sounds simple enough, right?
Let’s back up. Leads don’t appear out of nowhere. You have to find them and draw them to your business by generating awareness, interest, and demand. This can be challenging and expensive, especially for new and growing businesses in crowded markets. Effective strategies for generating leads may take months—or even years—to produce results, which is why losing leads late in the game can feel so frustrating.
As arduous as lead generation can be, too many businesses overlook an important step in the process: lead qualification. Lead qualification is how you determine whether someone is truly ready to become a potential customer—whether they have the right needs, situation, and budget to benefit from using your products or services.
It can be tempting to overlook this step and assume that anyone who finds you is a good fit for your business.
But qualifying leads is critical. Your customer or client base isn’t a monolith. Each prospective buyer is an individual with unique needs and values. Being able to recognize why a lead will walk away from a sale may help you differentiate which customers or clients are worth pursuing and which aren’t.
Consider the following factors when targeting new leads:
For many, this is the first and last stop. There’s a reason why the shopping tag is always facing away from the cool shirt that just caught your eye. Be upfront about your pricing early on so that your leads aren’t eventually caught in a difficult negotiation between their heart and their budget.
Are you drawing the attention of people who can afford your services? Or are you casting too wide a net?
The people seeking the services of a family lawyer aren’t the same as those visiting an employment attorney. Without these descriptors, clients would be wasting their time trying to find the right representation.
Is your business crystal clear about the services you offer? Or could a lack of clarity cause a potential customer to expect something you can’t deliver?
Location is so important to success that a timeless piece of business advice is merely the word repeated three times: location, location, location.
Whatever type of business you operate, location (location, location) matters when evaluating lead quality. In some cases, it’s obvious: a contractor in California probably has no need for a plumber who operates exclusively out of Billings, Montana, for example. In other cases, location (location, location) can point to other forms of misalignment. Maybe you aren’t licensed to practice in the state a lead lives in, for instance, or the time difference would be difficult to schedule around, or the differences in the costs of living between your two regions make your price point untenable.
Sometimes, people will only seek out companies of a certain size to do business with. Your company may currently lack the resources or manpower that a client is looking for. Aim within your means and consider your specialty. Remember: you don’t have to be all things to all people.
Familiarize yourself with the process.
Businesses typically generate leads either through targeted marketing or sales strategies.
Marketing-based leads tend to discover and interact with your business through advertising materials such as social media posts, articles, blogs (hi!), and mailing lists. These are people who have expressed interest in your company but have yet to interact with anyone on your sales team.
Sales-based leads are found through more personalized methods such as referrals and calls. These potential customers are the ones who have communicated directly with your sales team and have provided a greater insight into their level of interest.
Depending on their interest and familiarity with your business, potential customers will fall somewhere within a sales funnel. At the top of the funnel are the people who have expressed a need for your product or service, but are not entirely familiar with your business.
As these people continue to interact with your business, either through engaging with marketing materials or interacting with your sales team, a select few will reach the bottom of the funnel. This is where you have the greatest opportunity to secure their business.
So, where does it go wrong?
Part of what makes the lead generation process so demoralizing for so many businesses is that a significant amount of potential customers drop out of the sales funnel before they reach the end.
A targeted marketing strategy that reaches 10,000 people may ultimately only result in 100 real prospects. Each one requires an extra amount of care and attention if you want to earn their business.
Your company may often adapt and adjust its sales pitch based on the person you’re engaging with, taking note of their individual wants and needs. Salespeople may need to chase down indecisive leads for months on end, continuously demonstrating their interest and value until suddenly, one day:
“Thank you, but I just don’t think this would be a good fit.”
Even when it seems as though you have the perfect lead in the palm of your hands, they could decide to change their mind at any moment. You’re left wondering whether the marketing campaign was a total bust or if you just came off as just a little too pushy on the phone.
This is part of the reason why so many businesses hesitate to admit that the leads they were trying to land may not have been the ideal customer in the first place.
It doesn’t have to be hard.
If your business is struggling with lead qualification, it may be time to reassess your strategy. Plenty of people will try to sell you and your business “surefire” tips on finding the right customers. But often, it’s the same tired, old business strategies you’ve heard again and again.
Instead, focus on new ideas that center your particular market and business identity:
Craft your ideal customer profile.
In your heart of hearts, what does your perfect client look like? What are their interests? Their values?
Why would they be interested in your product? What need does your company fulfill for them?
Rethink your marketing strategy.
Once you’ve determined the identity of your ideal client, ask yourself where you can find them. Discover what type of campaigns they tend to respond to.
Do your potential customers tend to congregate on social media? If so, what’s the primary platform? If not, how are you guiding them to your web presence?
Does your website reflect their passions and interests? Or is it time for a digital re-brand?
Review and optimize your sales and marketing qualification processes.
Do you feel as though the traditional qualification processes aren’t generating the same level of interest as they used to? Listen to feedback, highlight which strategies are underperforming, and make adjustments from there.
Keep in mind that tactics such as cold calling and traditional mailing lists are becoming increasingly irrelevant for younger consumers. Research new avenues to get your business in front of the right set of eyeballs.
If they’re uninterested, consider what you can bring to the table.
You may be unable to serve a particular lead, but could you possibly offer a recommendation or refer them to a neighboring business?
While you won’t necessarily be working with the customer, showcasing that you still care about treating their needs might create a lasting impression.
Who knows? Maybe they’ll contact you in the future or refer a friend your way themselves.
One shortcut: automated lead capture
Yes, lead generation is challenging. There are no two ways around that. But I’ll let you in on a little shortcut to streamline the process: Ruby’s automated lead capture tool.
The tool recognizes when someone visits your website and initiates an introductory conversation with them. Following your visitor’s dialogue with the capture tool, their contact information is gathered and sent to you via email.
Instant potential lead.
Ruby’s lead capture tool collects the specific data from your prospective customers that your business needs to achieve greater insight into what they’re looking for. It’s also completely customizable to align with your business’s brand and goals.
Best of all, automated lead capture is free with every Ruby plan. It’s ready to use once you sign up!
To learn more, use the buttons to your lower right to contact us, or click here to get started.