Friday, July 15, 2016

"E-Leads Are Perishable - Use Immediately"

E-leads are a popular and valuable source of new business for contractor and other aging-in-place providers, particularly those with active websites or strong social media profiles. Nevertheless, those leads are a perishable commodity. They have an expiration date – almost no shelf life if not acted upon immediately.

Unlike a personal contact where we have an opportunity to learn in an active conversation what people are looking for, what their needs are, and how we can help resolve those concerns, e-leads - those generated online and first known to us as an email or online contact - are very different.

Some people are very impatient – that’s why they’re using the internet. They want instantaneous results. Others will wait a day or two for you to respond to them, but don’t count on your e-leads staying “fresh” for very long.

E-leads (online contacts) should come with a warning label: “Use immediately, subject to rapid expiration.”

In the beginning, it’s not important what prompted someone to contact us online for information by sending us an email or filling in a chat or request form – just that they contacted us.

For an e-lead to be valuable to us, there are a minimum of 3 steps that signal their development and indicate that their is interest in what we have to offer. First, the interested person (e-lead) contacts us by email. Second, we must acknowledge their interest and respond to their contact by email - as immediately as we can. Third, they will contact us again with another question or request for additional information. When this happens it looks more like a solid lead that can be developed. Then it’s our turn again to continue the dialog.

By the time 3 contacts have occurred – 2 from them and one from us – we are building a relationship that has a better chance of resulting in an actual purchase or appointment than if we had just send them a brochure or a standard response – hoping that this would be sufficient to explain what we do and answer their questions - possibly without ever really knowing what they want to accomplish, their budget, or their timing.


In fact, a generic, one-size-fits-all, standard response may be the expiration of the e-lead. They may fail to see any connection or concern on our part for helping them.


An online contact may be casual - just a general request for information without any serious or specific need or any real interest in doing anything. On the other hand, they might need something done rather quickly but have chosen the email or form contact as their preferred method of reaching out to us.

We can't read anything into their method of contact - online versus phone or in-person - and we can't assume anything about the quality of their concern or level of interest. They may or may not become a client. That all needs to be determined - initially through an email volley of back-and-forth messages.

The main thing to remember is that email and online leads are great to get - as are all other types of inquiries and leads. It's just the nature of the online inquiry means that it is only viable for a very brief period. After a day or two, that person has moved on to contacting and considering someone else, they have done the work themselves, or they have decided not to do what they mentioned. Regardless, we have to act quickly.  

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, MCSP, MIRM, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555.