Tracking leads

Last month (October 2011) I made a decision: I was going to start tracking business leads. The idea being that this would help me to see how business was doing in the future. Also I like looking at stats so it’s all win as far as I am concerned.

There were two more reasons for checking leads:

  1. I seemed to be getting an unusual amount of leads last month and I wanted to qualify if that was true or not
  2. I wanted to track where leads were coming from and what types of leads were most likely to turn into actual paying jobs

1 The number of leads

At some point last month, Google rejigged something and all of a sudden this website seemed to be ranking very highly for search terms like ‘Freelance WordPress Developer Manchester’, ‘Freelance Web Designer Manchester’ and some more too.

It felt like I was getting a lot more leads than usual, but as I’d never tracked leads before I wasn’t entirely sure if that was true. After speaking to my lodger, who is an Architect, about this he told me that one of the architectural practices he’d worked for had tracked their leads in particular to find out:

  • where they came from
  • the likelihood of them turning into jobs
  • the likely value of the potential job

Each year the practice would look back over these leads to see if business was picking up, declining or the staying the same. Obviously that data would have to be correlated against profit/turnover.

2 The useful of leads

I also wanted to track which types of leads where useful and which weren’t. I suspected that a lot of the new leads coming from Google – which were consuming quite a large portion of my time – were pretty unlikely to turn into paying jobs. Rather they were people looking to get a quick price quote that they would never respond to.

Findings summary

In October 2011 I had 25 leads. 6 of which have turned into definite jobs (2 more are 90% certain to start next month).

Of those 6 definite jobs, all of them came from either referrals or existing clients requiring new work. None of the cold calls/emails that came through turned into jobs – not even close.

In November 2011, I had 23 leads which have so far developed into zero paying jobs – but with 3 or 4 on the horizon which may turn into proper gigs (guess where they came from: yes, you’re right – existing clients). Note: The zero figure in November is misleading because jobs can often take over a month from initial contact to a price/spec being agreed.

I’m not 100% sure what this tells me at the moment, probably that October/November were gigantic months in terms of leads and that I spend far too much time being nice and responding to enquiries from people who will never progress to becoming a paying client. I will continue to track leads and continue to report back on my findings on this blog – hopefully with some very interesting stats and graphs too.

2 responses to “Tracking leads”

  1. Your blog always seem relevant to my recent thinking. If I could only pen my thoughts before you read them, I might be able to conjure up a few posts!

    Anyways, we have recently started logging leads too, in order to try and manage them better and turn them into conversions. As soon as we get a new lead, the details (description, contacts etc) go into a simple database which we add notes to and update after communicating with the potential customer. When they agree to go ahead with a job, we delete/archive the lead record and enter it into our project management system.

    Like you though, we have also found that the majority of leads can be poor and when we respond, we don’t often hear back. The lead management database helps this somewhat as we always make sure to follow them up if we don’t get a response. I don’t want to say something like “if they’re going to waste my time, I’ll waste theirs”, nor would we want to force someone into to committing to a job, but if they’ve taken the time to enquire then the least they can do is say yes or no. Following up leads by phone works alot better I find – especially if you can call them very shortly after they submit an enquiry. Emails can be too easily lost within other mail, ignored or deleted.

    Similar to you, most of the clients who have committed to us have been either existing clients or references from other clients.

    But I would still respond to the enquiries that might not seem too committed. You never know. We had one in February this year that we never heard back from until last month when they came back to us with a 5 figure project.

    • Thanks for your comment Ewan.

      I like your idea of following up those lost/unresponsive leads – perhaps if I had a little more time – or if I was looking to expand then this is certainly something I should be doing more.