Thursday, April 27, 2017

"E-Leads Are Perishable – Use Immediately"

Many of us have websites and various social media accounts to get our name and what we do out over the internet airwaves. The reason we do this is to generate business - whether we are spending much money on it or not. In fact, social media is free so it's not the expense we need to be concerned about. It's the leads themselves.

E-leads, as they are called, are what we get from people noticing our websites or other online information about our aging in place and renovation services. They read what we are sharing, and they reach out to us with a question or to engage us in talking with them about a project they are considering.

People take a moment to contact us and tell us who they are - at least an email address if nothing more. Part of it is going to be dependent on the message forms we have created and the essential information they require before someone can submit a request, Sometimes it might just be an email address, or it could include their name and additional contact information, such as where they live and their phone number. The more information we get on the initial contact the better it is for us because it gives us more options for getting in touch with them.

The main thing to recognize about e-leads, however, is that they are a perishable commodity. They have an expiration date – almost no shelf life if not acted upon immediately.

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 us to respond to them, but don’t count on our e-leads staying “fresh” for very long. They aren't like business cards that we can through on our desktop or in a drawer and dig them out later during a slower time.

E-leads should come with a warning label: “Use immediately, subject to rapid expiration.” They have to be used when we get them. There's no way of knowing how many other people they may have contacted also. We are racing the clock to get back to them first - before anyone else does that they may have contacted as well.

At the outset of the contact, it’s not important what prompted someone to email us for information – just that they did. This sets in motion the 3 steps that turn an initial online inquiry or contact into a solid e-lead. First, we get an incoming, unsolicited email. Second, we respond to them by email. Third, they contact us again with another question, response, or request for additional information. Then it’s our turn again.

By the time these 3 actions have occurred – 2 from them and one from us – we have begun building a relationship that has a better chance of resulting in an actual extended phone conversation or appointment to visit the home to evaluate and discuss their situation in more detail.

We must be prepared to respond to these inquiries as soon as possible after we receive them, and it must answer their question or be a personal response. A
 generic, one-size-fits-all, standard type of response may just terminate the potential of the e-lead.

There are plenty of things we can share with people who contact us - about our company, our services, similar projects to what they describe or ask about that we have done, our expertise, organizations we belong to that add more credibility to our resume, and then asking them more about their needs and how we can be responsive to them.

The one thing we can't afford to - after we have set in motion the mechanism to generate these e-leads - is to ignore them or not treat them seriously. A contact from our website is just as good - if not better - than a lead from any other source. Let's make the most of it.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-Master 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. Also check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn