I have heard a lot of discussion over the last year about nebulous leads, especially in the home improvement industry. What do I mean by "nebulous?"  By definition, nebulous means indefinite.  A nebulous lead is prospective buyer for your product that happens to be early in the educational buying spectrum.  While they might not be at the stage of soliciting estimates yet, (and therefore won't respond to traditional advertising), these prospects certainly have product needs on their mind and are gathering information preparing to do the project.  Putting systems in place that identify these potential customers presents a tremendous tactical opportunity for savvy companies to make contact with these prospects before their competitors.  These companies are then able to introduce their company and their products to these potential customers; building goodwill that can ultimately be translated into a sale when they are ready to buy.

Marketers typically identify this type of prospect by offering free information such as a whitepaper, or a free sample or through sweepstakes marketing efforts -- the thought being that if an individual is interested enough to request a free window brochure, or sign up to win a house full of windows they will become a window buyer sometime in the foreseeable future.  Conventional wisdom suggests that 85% of respondents to these types of offers are prospects for the product.

Recently, I attended the Dave Yoho business management seminar during the National Remodeling Show in Baltimore.  At this seminar, Mr. Yoho -- the most respected sales and management consultant serving the home improvement industry did a whole session on nebulous leads -- what are they, how they are generated, how can they effectively be set into appointments and of course ultimately closed.  According to Mr. Yoho, in order to systematically and consistently convert nebulous leads into appointments, a level of finesse is required that goes far beyond targeting a prospect that says "come out to give us a quote."  Many of our clients have long used a nebulous lead generation and nurturing strategy in their online marketing to supplement their lead generation efforts.  Our experience has shown that a company employing a nebulous lead generation strategy will generate far more inquiries than one simply offering a "Free Estimate" or some type discount offer.  The first rule of marketing is to differentiate yourself.  If every one of your competitors are offering Free Estimates, and if you are the only company in your market offering an "Insider's Guide to Replacement Windows" it stands to reason that you'll get noticed.

If your first response to this idea is to say "But I need leads for people looking to buy right now" -- you need to adjust your approach.  You are employing an old school take market strategy; viewing the market as a finite pie and battling everyone else to get your share of "now buyers." In a challenging economy, this line of thinking will lead you into an ever increasing battle for a shrinking number of prospects.

If, however, you have a company that employs best practice methodologies with respect to appointment setting, uses canvassers and event promoters who can sell the value of a consultation, and have a well trained and disciplined sales force -- read on. You probably already understand the need to build a contact database and work those contacts continually over time to develop a steady stream of quality appointments. As a market maker, you work to identify prospects, put them on the market, then take them off the market before they have a chance to shop anywhere else.  If your organization embraces this approach, then you will do very well by introducing nebulous leads into your marketing mix.

Because the Internet is now the first place people go to gather information (studies show that 85% of all product and service requests now begin online), advertising online is your most effective place to gather nebulous leads. Our research shows that it is still an untapped source for many contractors.

Three Deep has developed a list of the Five Factors Necessary To Be Successful With Nebulous Leads

1.) A Marketing Focused Corporate Culture -- These companies typically are extremely aggressive with their marketing efforts.  They consider all their marketing efforts as an opportunity to add names of potential prospects to their database for future marketing purposes as much as it is to find those customers looking to "buy now".  They aren't afraid to try new sources of leads -- rather than rely on the same things that they've always done.

2.) A Well Run, Scripted Appointment Setting System -- You most likely don't need to have a 20 seat telemarketing department, but you do need to have a couple of people who call prospects during the evening hours.  These calls should follow a scripted methodology that efficiently sets appointments for the sales department.

3.) An Automated Contact Management System -- If you talk to a prospect and he tells you to call back in 6 months -- do you have a system in place to guarantee that that prospect gets a call?  (Or does the name get filed and forgotten?)  Efficient contractors now employ customer relationship management (CRM) systems to manage each prospect they develop over time.

4.) A Well Trained Sales Department -- The System Reigns Supreme. 10 Steps To The Sale. 6 Sales To The Sale.  If you know what I'm talking about, you likely have been exposed to some type of professional sales training and understand the psychological aspects of the sales process.  If you don't -- or if you believe asking someone to buy from you after you've done your presentation is somehow offensive or coercive-- you probably aren't equipped to handle nebulous leads.

5.) Experience In An Organization That Employs All Of The Above -- It's no secret that in this industry success breeds success.  Many successful sales organizations are built by entrepreneurs who "learned the ropes" at a similarly well run sales and marketing organization.  They build their company on the best practices they have learned from others.  If this describes you, consider yourself blessed for the experience you have under your belt.  The cream rises to the top.

Three Deep Marketing is always looking for home improvement partners who share our vision.  We are a digital technology company laser focused on driving demand for our contractor clients.  We specialize in deploying pay per click lead generation campaigns, search engine optimization and website development, and email marketing on behalf of our clients to create steady streams of leads for our clients.  If you would like to learn more about our company and our process you can request a Free Consultation by clicking here.