When you start marketing your firm using a variety of marketing tactics at once, you will soon realize that all leads are not to be treated equally.

A lead is not a lead. That's right; some prospects are more motivated than others and should be treated differently, reflecting the depth of their need and readiness to buy.

The nature of lead generation programs depends entirely on the purchase decision complexity and level of motivation to act. For more complex services like business valuation services, the buyer needs to be educated on the decision variables and process for selecting the best firm to provide these services. Conversely, a simple individual tax return is a very simple decision that is more transactional and commodity based.

For complex accounting services, the key is to identify the most likely prospects, educating them and qualifying them before investing precious time into selling consultatively. In a complex purchase decision, the education process benefits the buyer while the qualification process benefits the seller. This gradual cultivation process is sometimes instantaneous and may take months for others.

In situations where you are marketing small business accounting services using a diversified marketing program of direct mail, telemarketing, PR, internet marketing and networking, it often helps to evaluate the amount of education that has been provided to the small business owner to guesstimate their readiness to make a purchase decision.

In other words, a cold call telemarketing lead has been provided with very little information about your firm before agreeing to meet with you and may have little motivation to make a decision soon. Conversely, a lead from your website is highly motivated because they initiated the search and have a sense of urgency, read several pages on your website about your services and background, and have called your office. This is a "hot" lead that is motivated, informed and ready to fish or cut bait. In kind, your response to an internet lead should reflect their readiness to buy.

A lead is not a lead. Treat each one uniquely to make maximum use of your limited time.

Hugh Duffy

Hugh Duffy

Hugh Duffy is the co-founder and chief marketing officer of Build Your Firm, a website development and marketing company for accounting firms.