Several weeks after initial contact, a prospect that I had recruited came back to me with what I thought was real interest in the services my company offered.  After another prospecting call I sent them an additional information request, but a few days later, just like that, he disappeared. Total radio silence. No return of my calls, text messages, Emails, and follow-up text messages.  After a week trying repeatedly to make contact and feeling a little like a psycho ex-high school girlfriend or boyfriend post-breakup, I abandoned my search efforts.

Sound familiar? Does this phenomenon also happen to you in your business?  Just when you think you’ve hooked a new one, they disappear into the cavernous reaches of the deep blue sea, never to be heard from or seen again?

What’s disturbing about this is not the way that it happens, but that it happens at all.  And happens with increasingly more frequency than you might guess, or even like.

To better understand “why” this happens, I’ve come to group this phenomenon into two groups, assigning them to attributes that in my experience, are either Operational or Behavioral.  And further, among the many different reasons why hot Leads fizzle and don’t consolidate into an actual sale, three stand out in my mind, and they are:

  1. Don’t know what they want to begin with (Behavioral)
  2. Your pricing is not what they want (Operational)
  3. Your service (upon further evaluation) is not what you positioned it to be

 

I’ll now briefly walk you through each:

#1. Don’t know what they want to begin with (Behavioral) – today, from the chair you are currently sitting in, you can learn just about everything, from A to Z, easy-peasy, just by clicking.  Because of this behavioral phenomenon, one of the simple reasons for losing leads and not actually converting them, it due to this – it’s just too simple to experiment.  Since your new Lead is at the beginning of their search, and maybe not crystal clear on what they want exactly, they’re testing the waters, trial-and-erroring, and this results in lost leads to companies simply due to the fact that, at the present moment, your Lead has no idea what product or service they want.  But at the same time, they can discern and decide about what they don’t want – and they don’t want you (at least now). With that, a lead is lost and another statistic for your metric trackers is created. Voila!

#2 Your pricing is not what they want (Operational) – this is related to the 1st reason but differs because the Lead has already gone through several layers of decision making and has narrowed down on you and your company services. They now want to get to the nitty-gritty and see pricing. Here the next level of response is either “yes, I’m interested, tell me more” or “no, you gotta be crazy, I’m outta here”.

Losing a Lead at this stage is frustrating, because they’ve successfully passed several filters, and in theory, demonstrate an interest in your company and its products/services. But the pricing trap is a big one.  Here I liken some Internet pricing strategies to playing Poker – where you hold a good hand to the end, bluffing as much as you can, and at the last minute show your cards (i.e., your pricing) with the “read’em and weep” smirk conveying to everyone that you think you’re the smartest guy in the room and that you fooled everyone.  Unfortunately, this pricing strategy is a turn off. Nobody enjoys being duped and made to feel like a fool, and that’s what this strategy ultimately makes you end up feeling. And it’s wrong, and if you are employing it in any of its various forms explains why your company will lose Leads, over and over again, until you change this.

 

#3 Your service (upon further evaluation) is not what you positioned it to be

Hardly a day goes by where I don’t receive an Email from some smart guy or gal telling me how they can miraculously improve my lead generation, and overnight, turn my business into an Internet sensation.  

What’s bothersome about this is not that they’re trying, but that they minimalize Lead Generation to something so simple, and implicitly make you feel that you are either dumb, incompetent, or maybe a little of both.

In this last explanation for why Leads go cold, companies frequently make claims, which are frankly speaking, empty.  They cannot substantiate or in a meaningful way, guarantee that their methods are full-proof. As a result, they are positioning their company’s products or services in a misleading manner.  What happens then, is as you dig down deeper, unpeeling a few more layers of the onion, you come to the core and see that it is empty. So although you may be a “hot Lead” early in their lead generation process, as you whittle your way down further, you discover that things are not what they were portrayed to be, and you as a Lead, now become another lost one and a new stat for the metrics folks (thank goodness for companies like this, otherwise, what would they have to measure?).

But the truth behind lead generation is that it is just plain hard work, and meaningful results are similarly, hard to come by. So, what to do?

For starters, try any combination of the following:

Have a place to say ‘No’ where it can be done easily and graciously. One of the many things that today’s Internet world lacks universally is a simple mechanism for saying ‘No’ to unwanted services AFTER you have inquired into them.  If you inquire it leads the service provider to ‘think’ you’re interested. But there needs to be a corresponding and simple mechanism, other than just disappearing,  that allows you to graciously say ‘no’ I’m not interested anymore, even if a moment ago I was (or at least thought I was…), thereby sending a message to your Lead Generation folks that this lead, after being sufficiently qualified, is no longer interested, and should not be pursued further.

Be generous and open by providing more information upfront.  There is real value in having abundant information about you, your company, its services, its differentials, your target customer or sweet spot customer — so that your Leads no whether they are one, or not.  This is just plain common sense and involves educating potential leads which will in the end, create trust and confidence – two things essential to keeping Customers once you bring them inhouse.

Have transparency in pricing.  I am a huge advocate for transparency in pricing.  If your pricing is transparent, you convey the message that there will be no surprises, no hidden fees, or no “gotcha” charges. Nobody likes being made to feel like a sucker, and ‘shame on you’ if your company is one of those who have pricing strategies designed to trick you with hidden fees and fine-print charges.  The adage…’you can fool some of the people, some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time” has never been truer in the Internet age, and sooner or later, this type of pricing reputation will catch up to you and your sales will be impacted negatively. So, don’t fall prey to the notion that it’s cool or clever to trick people with your pricing, because that is not a sustainable strategy – for your company and its customer retention strategy – and in the end, you will lose more Leads than retain, and people will distrust you and your product service offering.

Good luck, I hope this helps and that you also enjoyed reading my Blog.  Please feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn with any questions or comments you may have.  I also hope you’ll join me online at successfactormedia.com, where you can listen to, follow or download The Success Factor Podcast on iTunes, Soundcloud, Google Play and PlayerFM.

Here’s to your success.

Ernane