Many professional services firms invest a great deal in their websites and content marketing programmes. One of the aims of these initiatives is to build credibility and showcase the expertise of firms. However, for many professional services firms, lead generation is also a key consideration. Yet, once these leads are generated, they are not always followed up successfully. So how should professional services firms follow up web leads?
The 8 ways to follow up web leads
We are in the digital age, so most potential clients, even in the world of B2B will expect a response fairly swiftly. This means if your leads go into a central administration point, they need to be sent out to the relevant people to follow-up immediately. If your initial response even via email is well past 2 hours, you’re in danger of missing the boat. After all, if someone has contacted you cold off your website, do you really think that they have only contacted you, and not your competitors?
2. The first response doesn’t need to be war and peace!
Some website enquiries might be quite specific and require a relative amount of thought to answer what has been asked. In these instances, it is important to not fall into the trap of waiting to get all the information together, and the answers, before sending a response. That could take a great deal of time. While you’re doing this, the website enquirer has no idea if you’ve even seen their enquiry!
Instead, send an acknowledgement of their enquiry, let them know that you are considering a few options and will come back to them with some further information within x hours. It is important to give them an idea of how long they will need to wait.
3. Take their lead on how they want to be communicated with
I recently filled out an enquiry form on a website, and asked that they send me an email response – specifically requesting that they email, not call. I was, therefore, very surprised when the sales rep called me straight away. This created the impression to me that the sales rep was not there to assist or listen to me, but instead was more concerned with doing things their way!
Even if the lead is not that explicit, if they have emailed in and haven’t left a number, I would suggest emailing back initially.
4. Give helpful advice where you can
Yes, many of you charge for your advice, however, without giving away everything, you can easily provide some basic guidance and help in your initial response. Showing some willing and a desire to help the website enquirer means they are more likely to want to engage and communicate further with you.
5. Qualify the lead – ruthlessly
Not all web leads are a good use of your time to follow up. It is important in your initial conversations or e-communications to begin to qualify each lead. Do they have budget? Can they make a decision to purchase your services? Is the advice/assistance they seek something that is important to them now?
Some of the follow up on web leads will inevitably find you speaking with tyre-kickers and those who are not looking to make a purchase. Therefore, with these, it is important to be helpful and courteous, and if need be, refer them on to someone else more suitable to their needs – or let them know if they want to continue further they will need to formally engage your services.
6. Look to book some form of meeting/conversation
Once your web lead is qualified, you will no doubt want to have a longer conversation with your prospective new client. Therefore, offer them the chance to have a longer telephone or online conversation with you. If appropriate, offer a face-to-face meeting. Depending on their preference, let them choose the next stages of how you continue the dialogue.
7. Be prompt in your follow-ups
After each meaningful interaction or conversation, send a summary email immediately post call with the next steps and timelines laid out clearly. It is amazing how doing this one simple thing will help you build trust more quickly with your potential new client. In doing this you will have a greater chance of securing any potential deal.
Close the deal, or break-up!
The most valuable asset to any salesperson is time. If you’re in professional services and have to deliver the work as well as bring it in, then this is even more true. Therefore, at some point, your follow ups to the web lead needs to come to a conclusion. The ideal is, of course, for you to secure the deal. The next best thing is to find out that they have chosen not to work with you. At least you don’t need to follow the lead up any further. If they’re willing, you may even be able to get feedback so you can learn what to improve on next time.
Finally, if the prospective client is uncommunicative or doesn’t respond it may be time to have a ‘break-up.’ This isn’t the “it’s not you, it’s me” email. Rather, a case of a polite note saying you haven’t heard back from them, you’ll assume that they no longer need your services, that you won’t follow them up again, and that you wish them all the best in the future.
Conclusion – How to follow up web leads
It is vital that all professional services firms follow up web leads promptly and professionally. From the moment the first enquiry is sent to your website the clock is ticking. It is imperative that you follow up swiftly, are clear in your communications, and always let the person enquiring know what the next steps are. If you follow the 8 steps laid out above, you are far more likely to convert more of those incoming leads.