Win new business by learning the importance of online leads and how to qualify them
A lot of people think very differently about the value of online leads versus in-person leads.
This shouldn’t be the case!
To find out, we sat down with Hugo Azzolini, president of Different Perspective, to talk about the importance of following up with online leads—and how to do it.
What’s so important about online leads?
An online lead should be given just as much attention as someone that contacts your business any other way.
“Rather than thinking of online leads as just another email to reply to, instead think of them as someone physically walking into your place of business and coming up to you,” says Hugo.
“Don’t ignore them or turn them away. This person is already interested in what you offer, and they’re here asking you for help. With the right follow up, you can transform them into a valuable repeat customer in the future.”
How to follow up with online leads
Don’t let those leads get cold!
Try to follow up with customers promptly after they contact you, when their intent is at its strongest. The longer you delay, the higher the chance that they’ll lose interest or find another company to help them instead.
A study from Harvard Business Review found that companies who contacted online leads within an hour were nearly 7x more likely to qualify the lead, compared to a lead that was contacted an hour later. They were also more than 60x more likely to qualify the lead than companies who waited 24 hours or longer to contact the customer.
“Aim to respond to an online lead within 10–15 minutes. A fast response is unexpected, and it’s a great way to get the customer’s attention—especially if they’re contacting a lot of companies at the same time,” says Hugo.
A quick follow up is even more important if you’re investing in Google Ads or Facebook paid advertising to generate your leads.
Hugo’s top tips to follow up with online leads
- Always call the lead when you have their number. It breaks the pattern, and avoids the risk of the email ending up in their junk folder.
- Once you’ve spoken to them on the phone, keep the dialogue open by sending a personalized follow up email outlining the next steps.
- Don’t automate the sales process right away: people can tell. This is a crucial time in building your business relationship, and AI can’t replace contact with real people.
- Unless you offer a type of emergency service, be sure to adhere to business hours when responding.
How to qualify online leads
It’s inevitable that some of the leads you generate online will be unqualified. They may be spam, or they may simply not be a good fit for your product or service.
Use your initial phone call to qualify (or unqualify) your online leads. Some qualifying questions to consider include the following:
- Does the company match with your target audience?
- Does their budget align with your prices?
- Can what you offer solve their business challenges?
- Can the person you’re talking to make purchasing decisions?
“We actually have a checklist of questions that we ask all our online leads,” says Hugo. “This not only helps us quickly learn about their business, but also helps us quickly learn whether we should say yes or no to the project.”
What to do with unqualified leads
“Don’t just ignore them! Still make the effort to follow up—and explain that you’re not able to help them right now,” recommends Hugo. “Ask if they would like to be added to your email list. You never know, one day they or someone they know could be the perfect fit for what you offer.”
Don’t let all of your marketing efforts be in vain! You’ll boost your business (and your bottom line) when you follow up with online leads the same way you follow up with customers who contact you a different way: promptly and professionally.
Hugo’s key advice: “Don’t let your leads go cold! It must be a terrible feeling to contact a lead and listen to them tell you they already signed up with someone else.”
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More resources for you
1: Harvard Business Review