lead nurture

Critical Success Factors For Online Lead Intake

The individuals that interact with online clients via lead intake at professional service companies need to understand how these online opportunities might differ from traditional walk-ins or phone calls.  Before the advancement of the Internet as a common consumer tool for research and communication, there were only two principle ways in which a prospective client would make contact with your business:  walk-in traffic  (face to face) or incoming telephone calls (phone to phone).  Now business professionals must also be proficient in digital communications including email (keyboard to keyboard) and social (keyboard to community).

Today’s Internet represents a powerful unique way for clients to both investigate options and perform research before making a critical final engagement decision.  The marketing strategy, the communication platforms, and the vital skills and abilities required to satisfy and inform these clients are uniquely different from the traditional traffic channels.

What Are The Critical Success Factors For Internet Lead Intake?

The responsibilities and skill set required for successfully processing, intaking and closing an online engagement opportunity requires specialized training, abilities and mindset because and online lead generation IS a different process. Let’s look at some of the differences from traditional traffic compared to modern traffic channels.

The following chart compares the differences in focus in building customer value between the traditional intake and online intake:

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  • Focus is on identifying client needs, selecting the right service or product, making a value / benefit presentation, gaining a closing commitment, negotiation and closing on the product or service
  • Face to face
  • You control the flow of information
  • You control the pace of the process – who does what when
  • Buying commitment required in exchange for pricing disclosure
  • Emphasis on building value in service or product
  • The opportunity is NOW: Go for close
  • One and done, get ready for the next opportunity

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  • Focus is on confirming the client needs, engaging the client / customer in an exchange of information, validating the value / benefit that your service or product offers, and closing on an in person appointment
  • Keyboard to Keyboard
  • Customer controls the flow of information
  • Customer controls the pace of the process – who does what when
  • Up-front pricing disclosed to build customer trust
  • Emphasis on building value in the business relationship
  • The opportunity is indefinite: Go for an appointment
  • Success requires tracking and follow-up


What Does A Successful Lead Intake Process Look Like?

The most effective managers of Internet leads will need to have core competencies in three important areas:
1. Technology:

  • Must be comfortable with information technology, it changes rapidly.
  • Embrace multiple communication platforms. Be fluent with how your leads want to communicate with your business.
  • Capable of learning and utilizing lead management applications.

2. Online Lead Process Management:

  • Can organize multiple engagement activities at once to accomplish business objectives.
  • Understands how to arrange information and files in a useful manner utilizing technology.
  • Knows what steps in the process to measure and how to measure it.
  • Good at figuring out priorities in getting things done.
  • Does not get overwhelmed by multiple engagement and administrative tasks.
  • Breaks down engagement activities into the process steps.
  • Focuses on outcomes that drive success.

3. Online Engagement Skills:

  • Assumes client / customer has previously completed some research online.
  • Has excellent communication skills that engages the client / customer, validates customer research, builds trust and secures in person appointments.
  • Is able to write a digital communication that is clear, concise and gets a message across that provides value to the client / customer.  Understands basic digital protocol for email, social media, and other digital platforms as it pertains to your business.
  • Patient working within each client’s / customer’s information agenda while maintaining a focused results oriented engagement plan.
  • Understands the business’ services or products and can easily answer basic related questions in a way that projects professionalism and increases client trust and confidence levels.
  • Drives engagement forward to the desired business objectives: set an appointment.

The digital environment is extremely dynamic and the business engagement process does vary from traditional brick and mortar client acquisition methods. Success is measured differently, because the business objectives align closely to the client objectives with a focus on outcomes; in most cases setting an appointment becomes the priority rather than closing a client.

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To recap a successful lead generation intake process, it is critically important to review and know these key concepts:

  • The engagement strategy, the communication tools, and the skill and ability required to successfully handle inbound leads are uniquely different from the traditional role for walk-in traffic.
  • The most prosperous people in these lead intake positions understand the responsibilities and skill sets required for successfully processing and engaging the online opportunity and recognize that it requires specialized training to maintain a competitive edge.
  • Everyone interacting with an online lead makes a unique contribution to the clients’ experience and perception of the brand value.
  • The online lead intake process has a distinctly different focus than a traditional engagement process in building customer value and provides validation to the customers’ decision.
  • The lead intake team that handles online queries will need to have competencies in three important areas; technology, online lead process management, and online engagement skills.


How Much Does Your Free Organic Traffic Cost?

The Real Value Of Free Organic Traffic

Any business that depends upon free organic traffic for customers or clients must recognize the value of their organic traffic. That means the vast majority of business owners that either do organic optimization in-house or employ a vendor or agency to optimize their organic presence, know that your FREE TRAFFIC IS NOT FREE.  Treat your organic traffic with the same level of intensity that you use for your paid traffic, because organic traffic has value too!

Why Organic Traffic Is Not Free

What is your time worth? If your time is valued at $50, $75, or $250 an hour, can it be better spent doing something other than optimizing your web site? Average business person spends 8 to10 hours a month on their web marketing meeting, writing, tweaking, reviewing their internet strategies.  At $100 an hour, that’s $800 to $1000 of time invested to drive “free” traffic.  When you review your return on investment to find that your $1000 of time investment delivered client sign ups of $10,000 then you enjoyed a 10 to 1 ROI, which is great if that was your target. But if you signed up only $2,000 of new clients and the 2 to 1 ROI is not enough to keep the lights on, then maybe it’s time to rethink how your handle your free organic traffic.

Free Stuff Is Easily Discarded
Many studies have shown that perceived value of items correlates directly to how that item is treated.  The difference between your evaluation of the benefits and costs of the item when compared with other costs and benefits becomes the perceived value. If you are given a “free” roller ball pen, you may use it every single day, but if you lose it, no big deal right? Now you are given a free Acme roller ball pen that you use every single day. If you lose this pen, will you feel the same as losing the plastic pen? Not so much. Even when both are free, the perceived value to you differs.  Knowing the value of your organic visitors by source is a metric most successful online businesses monitor frequently.

How To Calculate The Basic Value per Visitor

The simplest way to calculate the value per visitor is to start with your desired outcome, in most cases profit.  Then all you do is divide the total online profit by the total number of your visitors.

Simple Example:

Profit / Visitors = Visitor Value
An e-commerce retail website
$150/1,000 = $0.15 per visitor value

Professional Services Example:
A personal injury law firm with a 2% closing rate on auto accident cases.

$150,000 / 1,000 = $150 per visitor value

In the professional services example when you assign the visitor value to the 200 “free” contacts (form submissions and emails), that value of those contacts is actually not zero but $30,000. Will you handle your $30,000 of opportunity differently than you would handle free? Of course you will. So stop burning up contacts or leads, build a process to handle your valuable free organic traffic opportunities!

When you use visitor value data to make smart informed business decisions, then assigning the right focus to these business opportunities is the correct course of action. With a renewed focus on the value you are receiving, defining a processes to maximize your conversion of these opportunities, your business will flourish.

lead nurture

How To Get A Fast Start In Lead Generation

Fast Track Your Lead Generation

Want to increase your bottom line with lead generation but don’t know where to start? Lead gen fundamentals are often nothing more than a simple math problem; thoughtful tracking of the numbers yields results when done correctly. As only one part of your overall digital strategy, lead gen can be a welcome boost to profitability, just don’t lose sight of the rest of your business. Take a step by step approach to the part of your marketing by starting with a clear definition of your customers or clients. Develop this user persona as a first step.

Step #1. What do your potential customers want?

Remember that zero potential customers wakes up in the morning and screams loudly, “Please market to me today!” No client thinks of themselves as a “lead” for your organization. The key is to understand these individuals and discover what they truly want or need. Start out by answering questions that drive them to seek solutions, questions like:

  • What are their pain points that keeps them awake at night?
  • What do they want to avoid so bad that they are willing to pay others to do?
  • What are the goals or objectives that they want to achieve?
  • What problem are they trying to solve?
  • How are they trying to change their current situation?
  • Where do they go to seek help or solutions?
  • What is there sense of urgency to resolve a problem or change their life?
  • How soon do they need to act?

Fortunately there are many different avenues to go to uncover this information. Effectively monitoring social media, client interviews, discussions with customer facing groups, posts from industry thought leaders, surveys, white papers,  are just a few of the ways to learn and better understand  what your potential customers want. The success or failure of your lead generation efforts hinges right here at the start by answering the question – what do my clients and customers want?

Quick Lead Response Times Win Business

Your business will thrive with fast lead response times

It really does not matter where you get leads for your business, it’s what you do with those leads that truly counts. The speed of response to inbound leads influences the outcome of your lead conversion metrics. The vast majority of people search for goods and services online and this movement to digital media drives many potential customers and clients to websites.  Businesses that thrive from online leads understand that effective prospect management is the key to success. It all starts with fast responses to your inbound leads.

Want to fail in a big way? Respond slowly!

lead conversionWe’ve all had a negative experience when we reached out to engage with a business by showing our interest and submitting an online form and then wait for it … nothing. Nada, no response other than the impersonal auto-responder email or generic “thank-you” page. Been there too? Feel that pain? It soured your impression of the brand, right? Some studies suggest that up to 65% of all companies will admit that they do not have a solid process in place to handle and nurture those leads. Those that do prevail and thrive.

Lead response times very greatly business to business and by industry verticals. Companies that are largely dependent on leads for the majority of their revenue tend to be more aware of the need to respond to leads quickly. It is not uncommon for most leads to never receive a response or if they do get one, it may come days later after the initial submission. This is not a customer-centric focus that favors your brand.

Lead response times and lead nurturing is a massive problem. Studies indicate that companies that respond to and nurture leads have 47 percent higher profit margins than companies that do not. Prospects place value on quick thorough responses, it’s not always about who has the lowest price for the product or service.

Small businesses, solo owners, and professional service firms often struggle with limited support structure to appropriately handle lead intake and follow-up, but this is where you need to focus your investment. If your marketing efforts successfully drive traffic to you, don’t waste the opportunity to turn prospects into  buyers or clients. Do not miss these opportunities!

Why such a high fail rate?

Excuses are plentiful, too many leads, leads quality is poor, too many other job responsibilities, no good way or process to follow up the leads.  Often it is a lack of knowledge or tools that impact lead follow up. Lacking the proper tools or skills, it becomes difficult to understand how to follow up, what to say, what’s the best communication method (phone, email, text) to employ, or simply what is the next step to take in the process to convert the prospect into a customer or client. Strong measurement in critical areas can immediately help identify areas of opportunity for improvement. What gets measured, gets improved!

Setting the stage to WIN the lead conversion game

Here are few simple steps to follow to prepare your organization to handle leads like a “Boss”:

Start with the data and share some lead response facts:

  • 65 percent of all companies don’t nurture the lead.
  • Average response time for an Internet lead is 44 hours.
  • Only 25 percent of all salespeople make two contact attempts.
  • 80 percent of all lead transactions require five to 12 follow-ups.
  • If you include texting in your response, you increase your conversion rate by 40 percent.

Develop a lead conversion process with specific actions for follow up.

  • Brand your automated response. Make it more than a simple “Thank you” page and email.
  • Send a text with more information than requested.
  • Include a value driven call to immediate action.
  • Don’t give up on the lead, move into drip marketing follow up.

Plan and move forward. It’s easy to maker you brand stand out when so many businesses overlook lead conversation as a way to increase revenue. Develop your follow-up system and make it part of your business process. Nurture your leads and success will follow.