5 obstacles professional services firms face in lead generation

Lead generation is hard. For professional services firms, the difficulty and expense are much greater than in other sectors. That’s because professional services carry a high price tag, so you have a limited pool of potential clients, a wide variety of experience which leads to broad pricing models, and more young, digitally fluent competitors entering the market daily.

Having consulted with hundreds of small professional firms (attorneys, medical professionals, and CPAs), I’ve found a common thread of obstacles faced by, if not unique to, professional services firms. Here are the five most common lead generation challenges:

Sourcing.

First off, where do you even get lead generation? There are a few camps here – you can do it yourself or you can hire somebody who specializes in it.

If you do it yourself, you can get clients through: Paid Search Ads, Directory Listings, Social Media, Events and Networking, TV, Radio, and Organic SEO leads. Each of these require a dedicated and unique approach, and constant testing and revising.

Also, a social media lead is going to be much different than an organic SEO lead, or somebody who hires you through an email campaign. So if you hire another firm to generate your leads, try to understand where they get their leads, and set clear expectations up front.

Consistency.

Many small lead generation firms are able to generate a handful of unqualified leads, but many places have a hard time scaling the results consistently.

There are a few reasons for this – the cost of growing lead gen efforts can be prohibitive, or perhaps they are afraid they won’t be able to sell all the leads they generate.

And because it’s difficult, it can be lucrative so there is a great and intense level of competition in lead generation efforts. Of course, there’s always the human nature element – in high-ticket niches, there are only so many qualified potential clients.

No matter which lens you look through, getting consistently good leads is a huge issue.

Follow-Up.

Here’s a truth most people are too afraid to admit: Most small businesses aren’t ready or equipped to handle lead generation efforts. In the legal realm, for example, it’s widely known that 74% of people who hired an attorney hired the first person they spoke with.

So if you’re not effectively answering your phones, you’re throwing money into your competitors’ pockets.

Further, if your potential client leaves you a voicemail or sends an email, you only have 8 hours (at most) to reply. If not, that prospect is bringing their business elsewhere. So make sure you have a good intake and follow-up system in place.

Quality.

Lead quality is possibly the most over-sold aspect of lead generation services.

Every. Single. Place. Will tell you they have the secret sauce, that their leads convert at 80% on average.

They’ll tell you their leads are far superior to their competitors. Chances are they’re the same leads. See, especially the low-cost lead services, those are usually shared or recycled.

That’s why they are so cheap – they’ve been rejected and resold a few times before you even get the contact info. Once again, know where your leads are coming from, and start making adjustments based on which leads are the best fit for your practice.

Tracking.

Much like Follow Up above, most small businesses just don’t have the process or knowledge in place to make an educated determination of how effective leads are, and how they affect the business’s bottom line.

Use a combination of Google Analytics, CallRail, and internal reporting processes to determine what your Cost Per Lead is, and also what your Conversion Rate is.

Once you know the numbers, you can make decisions with certainty, not just a gut instinct.

BONUS – Cost.

Because of the difficulties already outlined, you can understand why lead generation services can be expensive.

Even more expensive are the leads that are manually pre-qualified.

Of course, this delivers to you a more vetted and likely valuable potential client, but you will pay for that privilege. As such, the cost of many lead services make them prohibitive to small practices.

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