Nobody really likes to sell. If you’re like most people, you’d rather just get down to the business of painting your client’s house. There’s nothing less pleasurable than digging up leads.
In an ideal world, a professional could hang out his shingle, be really good at what he does, and never lack for phone calls. Referrals would roll in constantly.
But referrals aren’t enough, and selling has to happen. Is it any wonder that some contractors would consider lead generation services?
But be careful before you whip out your credit card. You should know these 3 things before you start throwing money at the problem of leads.
1. Lead Generation Services Don’t Help You Build Your Brand
Lead generation companies aren’t doing anything mysterious. They set up a website. They optimize that website. And then they put together some enticements that get people to leave their information.
They pass leads on to you when they get them. The strength of that lead will depend on how good of a job they did with their website, as well as many other factors.
If all that it takes to generate good leads is a good website, then it stands to reason that your efforts would be better served by building your own website or having one built and promoted for you, so you can capture your own leads.
Building your website builds your brand. Your website will tell customers that you’re a trustworthy expert.
The lead generation website doesn’t offer any association with your name when a customer fills out the form. In many cases they were just after a free report, and they forgot the name of the lead gen site the moment they got that report. This means the customer might feel angry or irritated when you call. Not the best way to start a business relationship.
By contrast, people who ask you for an estimate on your site know who you are. And they generally do want the estimate.
2. You Have to Share Leads
When someone fills out a form on the lead generation service’s website the lead typically goes to 3-4 other providers. When you use your own website you get to keep all the leads you generate.
Some places will sell you exclusive leads, but they are quite a bit more expensive. It’s not an expense that makes a lot of sense when you consider the fact that you could have had an exclusive lead at no additional cost simply by capturing it on your own website.
3. You’re Likely to get more Bad Leads
Lead generation companies create fairly general information, which means they’re targeting customers at the research phase more often than they’re targeting customers who are ready to buy. By contrast, a customer who asks for an estimate on your company’s website is typically much closer to making a purchase decision.
That means that lead generation companies get a lot of unqualified leads. Some are fake leads with fake names and numbers. Some are nowhere near making a purchase and don’t want anyone calling them yet—and they don’t realize that they’re asking to be called by filling out that form.
Many lead generation companies claim that they’ll credit your account if they send you a bad lead. This comment on ContractorTalk.com says that doesn’t usually happen.
As you can see, the contractor paid perhaps $280 (if we assume a typical $35 per lead) to make 2 estimates. (Not two sales. Two estimates). Not the world’s greatest ROI.
Is there ever a good time to use lead generation services?
Maybe. If you find a really trustworthy local provider. You might want to use such a provider in the short-term, just to generate some business. This is exactly how you might use a PPC campaign, too. It’s all about driving some calls and sales while you go through the longer process of turning your website into a force to be reckoned with.