When is a “free download” no longer free?
What do you wish companies would stop doing when you download a free white paper?
I bet I already know. I had a conversation recently with my business development executive who has become highly suspicious of "free" white paper downloads. There are some sites that he refuses to download from because not only was the prior information unhelpful, but he knows he will receive a call from a telemarketer – even after he’s made it clear he’s not interested. Why do we continue to force people into being "leads"?
People download content often to answer questions. Don’t assume that because they downloaded something that they are ready to talk to a sales person. You need to first connect with your potential lead.
I’ve found that calling people is the best way to qualify leads, and if that phone call is conducted correctly it can be the start of a really good relationship. If there is an initiative invariably people will tell more about their project and what they are trying to do. The nuance matters and it helps you sound less like a pusher and more like a relevant resource.
A good example of a follow up comes from Endeca. When my colleague downloaded a white paper from their site, Endeca’s follow-up was very professional. The call opened with questions about what led him to take a look at their paper. They asked what he found particularly interesting about the download.
When InTouch handles inquiry/lead qualification for our clients, we typically start off with something like, "A lot of people download our white papers to get their questions answered. I was wondering if you got a chance to read (insert title of the download), and if your question got answered. Or, is there some other way that I can help?"
Also, rather than asking, "Are you the decision maker for the company?" ask something like, "Were you trying to answer this question for yourself or another member of your team so I can help you get the needed information."
There has to be a balance between collecting information and providing value. If you’ll think of Lead Generation as a process of micro-conversions that build opportunity profiles over time, you’ll be successful. With that in mind, here are some things to think about when offering ‘free’ information:
- Downloads that are thinly-veiled product brochures and technical documents of the offered product are not only unprofessional, they’re ineffective.
- Be careful about requiring registration to receive anything worthwhile. Request an email address first, then later on a first and last name. Requesting a phone number should be later on in the process.
- Sales teams should never receive Web inquiries directly and unqualified (truth be told – sales people only want to talk to people who actually WANT to talk to them)
- Contacts should be established with potential customers to prime them into the lead-nurturing program
- Web site forms should be to the point for maximum response
- All inquiries should be responded to with a prompt note of thanks (how good is your "thank you" auto reply?)
- A supplementary email thank you should be used to share value added relevant data
So what do you wish companies/sales people would stop doing when you download a free white paper or other "free" content?