If you’re a business owner, you’ve likely had to do some sales… whether it’s your “thing” or not. For myself, I enjoy the process of sales but not always the reality of doing things like cold calling potential customers or simply asking for money.

It’s awkward.

And you know what’s more awkward? Asking a bad lead for money.

You may get leads from a variety of sources: advertising, PR, an individual or another company. And some are better than others. I’ve found, over the course of doing business, that some funnels may give you a lot of leads… but they may also be bad leads.

For my business, this has happened for a few reasons:

1. They don’t understand what you offer
Occasionally, we’ll get inundated with requests for projects that don’t seem like a great fit. This typically happens because someone shared a post online about us and didn’t quite get our messaging right. For instance, we serve businesses and non-profits, and we try to make that clear, but if someone simply shares a photo that we’ve taken on Facebook, and then someone sees that, they may automatically think we do all kinds of photography… which happens… and then we get requests for doing a video at a family birthday party and we have to say no.

2. The budget is off
Still in the vein of what I described above, sometimes we’ll get clients looking for something in a certain budget (too small or too large) and it’s simply not within our realm of offerings. This may happen because of the way you present your business. If you’re a high end product, are you making that obvious in your marketing? If you’re not clear from the start, then you’ll end up with potential customers who take up a decent amount of your time and effort before you both realize it’s a bad budget fit.

3. They’re not ready
Some potential customers just want to test the waters, see what’s out there, and make a real decision later. I admit, I am often that type of buyer. But, as a service provider, I need to figure out early on if potential customers are serious and have a done the up front work to define a budget. Often, people who don’t have a set budget will doubt their investment and take a step back. However, sometimes these clients might just be people who need some extra time and they’ll come back after some time if you’re able to keep them engaged for months (or sometimes years!).

So, in order to get high quality leads, it’s important to have your messaging be on point for what you do, who you’re targeting and the price point you’re looking for. Setting your customers up for success is a surefire way to help them gain confidence in your business and will help avoid any awkward surprises along the way.

Britta Jackson is a serial entrepreneur and co-owner of alder|creative, providing consulting and graphic design to small businesses and non-profits in Grays Harbor (and beyond) since 2013. She works from her home in Aberdeen with her husband and 1 year old daughter and enjoys live music, reading business books, and vacationing in small towns.

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