Over the last two-plus years, we’ve reviewed more than one million phone and form conversions generated by SEO and other types of online marketing campaigns. One of the more surprising results: A solid half of all these conversions are something other than sales leads.

Most of these “other” category conversions wind up in the company’s trash folder. It’s a big mistake. A lot of these non-sales lead conversions are viable prospects — possibly outstanding prospects — and as such, should be dropped into the CRM database for future marketing activity.

What Are Non-lead Conversions?

Salespeople who receive website leads most likely realize many of those “leads” are not very good. The bad conversions include:

  • Customer service inquiries
  • Incomplete forms
  • Inquiries from competitors fishing for information
  • Inquiries where product/service needs don’t match company offerings
  • Personal phone calls
  • Sales solicitations from potential vendors
  • Spam

When salespeople receive inquiries to follow up on that run along these lines, they quickly cross them off their prospect list. And, really, from their point of view, it’s the right thing to do. Salespeople are focused on closing deals now. If a deal isn’t right in front of them or clearly on the horizon, they are going to have much better things to work on.

Sales Garbage Is Marketing Gold

From a marketing point of view, however, many non-lead conversions have value — possibly a great deal of value. For instance:

  • Customer service inquiries may come from a new contact at an existing account. This new contact may have higher buying authority/influence than current contacts, and/or may be responsible for buying different items than that are currently being sold by your firm. The more contacts you can establish within a company, the better you will be able to cement the relationship, retain the account, and introduce new products and services.
  • Incomplete forms (e.g., forms missing an email address, phone number or reason for inquiring) may still be legitimate leads that just require a little more digging on your end to establish contact. True, it may be the sales person’s responsibility to run it down, but if that person is busy doing higher-priority tasks, marketing should have a process in place to make sure these inquiries don’t slip through the cracks.
  • Inquiries, where product/service needs don’t match, are a rich source of opportunity. The current inquiry may not match, but what about the inquirer’s potential to buy things that do match? This needs to be investigated. In addition, these poorly aligned inquiries may come from high-level and/or highly influential employees — people you want to establish contact with not only as potential customers but also as potential lead referrers.
  • Vendor inquiries are also worth cultivating (perhaps as a separate category within the CRM) as lead referrers. Vendors and potential vendors know your industry inside and out, and are in a position to send business in your direction every day.

Review the Data With Care

The challenge in retrieving gold from the garbage is to drop non-lead inquiries into the CRM selectively. If the process is overly automated, then you will fill your CRM with worthless data as well as the worthwhile data I’ve just described.

To manage the CRM properly, human labor needs to be applied — listening to recordings of phone inquiries, and reading website form submissions. It’s a good job for an intern or entry-level marketer. Is it worth it? The answer is almost certainly yes if the lifetime value of a new customer is substantial and/or if you have an effective outbound marketing campaign(s) in place.

Try all of the above with a smart CRM like Wakeupsales & it’s easy to realize how easy life can get! 🙂

Nothing is guaranteed in this world of business. However, the above facts are my personal opinion based on years of research & experience. Please drop your feedback below, I’d love to read them all.

Content Courtesy: Straight North    

Brad Shorr
Brad Shorr

Brad Shorr is a contributor to the Wakeupsales Blog & Director of Content Strategy at Straight North, an Internet marketing agency in Chicago that specializes in SEO, PPC and web design services. With more than 25 years of sales and marketing experience, Brad has been featured in leading online publications including Forbes, Moz and Entrepreneur.

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