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Q: We’re not getting any sales leads from our Web site. I know we have lots of visitors (according to our statistics program), but we’re not converting them into prospects.

A: Put yourself in the shoes of a potential customer. You’re sitting in front of your computer during another hectic, crazy day. And somehow, you’re compelled to visit a company’s Web site. Perhaps an advertisement led you to the site. Perhaps you did a keyword search on Google, and the Web site came up close to the top of the results. Perhaps a business card handed to you at a networking event piques your interest, and you open a browser and type in the URL. Or perhaps you just read about the company in Front Range TechBiz and want to find out more about its products and services.

So you go to the home page of the site, click around a bit, and try to find out what the company does. You tell yourself, “I should really call them.” But then someone or something distracts you. And you close the browser, never to return. We’ve all had this happen to us. But what could your company do differently to convert the site visitor into a potential prospect?

Our research shows that a site visitor is unlikely to pick up the phone and call. Why? Your site visitor probably has one hand on the mouse and the other on the keyboard. Picking up the phone takes them away from the Web browsing experience. The last thing a visitor wants to do is to navigate through a complex voice mail phone system to try to find the right person. And many people still share one phone line for voice and Internet connectivity (believe it or not, 80 percent of the world is still on a slow dial-up connection).

People are more likely to send a quick e-mail to the info@ or sales@ e-mail address pasted throughout the Web site. But even this takes time and energy to click on a link, open a blank e-mail message, compose a subject line and write a meaningful question in the body of the message. Sending an e-mail is still a bit of a high-commitment activity, and again takes the person away from the Web-browsing experience.

We’ve found the best way to convert site visitors into leads is to place a “Contact Me Now” form on every page of your Web site. But this isn’t the 50-question interrogation form you currently have on your site. At most, you should ask for the person’s name, e-mail address and phone number, and offer a small text box for comments or questions.

Why does this work? A Contact Me Now form, placed strategically on each page of your site, doesn’t require a visitor to expend extra energy by clicking around. People are really good at typing their own name, e-mail address and phone number into a form, clicking submit, and then waiting for someone to contact them. It’s a low-involvement, low-commitment activity, and makes your company responsible to follow up with them.

A couple more tips if you decide this is something you want to do on your Web site: When someone fills out a form, make sure you send a follow-up note by e-mail, thanking them for the request. Make sure an immediate “Contact Me Now Alert” message is sent to someone at your organization for a prompt response. Do you wait for sales prospects to call you? Or do you make it as easy as possible for you to contact them? It might not sound like much of a difference, but as an old soccer coach once told me, “The ball will not come to you. You must go to the ball.”

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