Pete Bowen's site

What to say on the first call to an internet lead.

If you want to make sales to your internet leads you have to call them back. Preferably within 5 minutes of them filling in your form.

But for most of us making that call is unpleasant. Selling to a stranger on the phone is hard work.

You can make the call easier and more likely to turn into a sale by using it as a clarifying call, not a sales pitch. You're calling to:-

They might want one set of sheets for their guest room but you sell bed linen wholesale to hotels. They might want a sawdust extractor for their man-cave, but you install factory-size systems. They might want a solar panel for the top of their camper van but your business is all about solar farms. You get the point.

And, even if they want what you sell there might be something that stops you from doing business with them. They might be out of your area. They might not meet some legal or other requirement for doing business with you.

Start by introducing yourself.

I don't know about you, but when a stranger calls and starts with "Is that Peter Bowen" I panic. Something like this feels less intrusive.

Hello, Joe Soap here, I'm calling because Pete Bowen enquired about rooftop solar panels on our website. Is this a good time to talk?

Sometimes the person will tell you that they didn't enquiry on your website. This happens when malicious bots used leaked names and email addresses to fill in web forms. End the call politely.

If it's not convenient to talk now arrange a time to call back.

If it is a good time to talk, thank the lead for considering your business and get started.

A couple of points...

Ask questions to control the flow of the conversation.

You'll get the most out of the call if you control the flow of the conversation. You do this by asking questions.

There are two kinds of questions to ask in this call:

Get rid of unqualified leads as soon as possible.

Ask the qualifying questions early in the call. There is no point wasting time if the lead doesn't want what you sell or if it's impossible to do business with them. Ending the conversation as soon as possible is the best outcome. You don't have to be brutal about it, you could explain why you're not a good fit for them and point them to alternatives.

It's helpful to say why you're asking, especially if the question might be sensitive.

For example, I have a client who helps people immigrate to a specific country. The country has a law that prevents people with certain health problems becoming permanent residents. There is no way to get around this.

My client phrases this by saying something like.

I'm sorry to ask, but the -name of country- government won't give permanent residence to anyone with the following health problems. -list of of health problems.

The immigration process includes getting a medical certificate so they will find out. Do you or anyone else in your family have one or more of these conditions?

If the lead isn't disqualified you can move onto collecting the information you need for the next step in the sales process. The exact questions depend on what the next step is. It might be a quote, a consultation, a site visit etc.

Use a printed call-sheet.

A friend uses a printed (on paper) call-sheet for every call.

It's got a space for the lead's name at the top left of the page. The top right hand corner has a space for marking if the lead was junk, disqualified or qualified.

It's got a list of the standard questions he needs to ask. There is a space after each question so he can scribble notes during the call.

It's not a script. He doesn't read the questions verbatim. It's there so he doesn't forget a question in the heat of the moment.

After the call he takes a photo of the page and ads it to the lead notes in the CRM.

(Steal this idea.)

How to come up with qualifying questions.

The questions you need to ask to figure out if someone wants what you sell and if it's possible to do business with them are unique to your business. Here are some things to think about as you work out what to ask.


Minimum deal size, order quantity or budget.

An ad agency might not be able to help someone who has a budget of $500 per month. A training company might not find it worthwhile to run an in-house training course for only two employees.

Are there restrictions that would stop someone buying your products or using your services?

I spoke about my immigration client earlier but there may be other restrictions. For instance, I have a client who leases cars. Their insurance won't cover anyone who had an insurance policy declined in the past.

Access to do the work or deliver the goods.

I had a client who specialised in commercial and industrial concrete floors. They pumped concrete in using a truck-mounted pump with a long boom arm. They could only work if they could park the truck close enough for the boom to reach.

In some building sites this was impossible. In others the cost of a permit to close the road for half a day made them too expensive.

Do you need to be an approved vendor?

Governments and larger organisations often require that you be on an approved vendor list to do business with them. Getting onto the list can take months and a wheel-barrow of paperwork. You may also have to comply with requirements like ISO certification or meet diversity criteria.


You're not going to be able to do business with someone who has to have by Wednesday if you need six-months lead time.

Need some help with this?

I offer 1-to-1 mentoring and consulting. You’ll get help, advice, support and answers without having to commit to a long-term contract. Details here.

95% of leads never turn into customers. Want to fix that?

Over the last few years I've done deep work with a handful of clients to increase the number of sales they made from their Google and Facebook leads. I've put what I've learned into a 9-lesson email course.

You’ll learn:-

  • How to identify opportunities for improvement.
  • How to generate more than enough ideas for improvement using the 2-magnets concept.
  • How to apply those ideas in your business.
  • How to measure the results of your work (so you can do more of what's working and less of what's not).

My experience has been that it will deliver more sales if:-

  • Your business receives leads from online advertising like Google or Facebook.
  • Your sales process happens offline. A lead arrives and there is a quote, assessment, demonstration etc before the sale happens.
  • You have the capacity to handle a few more sales in the short term without having to hire or invest in new equipment.
You're already paying for leads. Now turn them into sales.
Privacy policy. Unsubscribe at any time.

Related articles

Why we lost sales. Losing potential sales always hurts. But, if you know why you lost the sale you can make changes that'll help you win more sales down the line.

"Forget about reducing the CPC" In money terms my client paid Google about $1 400 per client he contracted with. He could live with spending $500 per new client. Here's how we're going to hit that target.

What to do if leads don't answer when you call. Last month a client got 4 150 leads but their sales team was unable to contact 1 277. Here's how we're going to reduce the number of non-contacted leads and help the client make more sales.

An easier way to sell services. Bigger value projects take a lot of work to sell. You have to have the discovery calls, meeting notes, customised proposals and quotes. And, you often need several follow-up meetings. There is another way.

Why I don't just delete fake leads from my inbox If the only thing you do with fake leads from Google Ads is delete the lead delivery email you risk getting swamped by fake leads. Here's why and what to do to improve lead quality.

Why I never use reCAPTCHA on Google Ads landing pages Nobody wants an inbox full of spam, but preventing fake leads from submitting your form is wrong if you’re paying for online advertising. Here's why...

More sales are lost because of inertia than price. Most of your potential clients want what you sell but haven't handed over the money because they've run out of steam. Here's how to keep them moving towards a sale.

How to win more quotes without lowering your prices In a perfect world you'd win every quote but the reality is that most quotes don't turn into sales. It is possible to turn a lot more quotes into sales without lowering prices. Here's one way.

You could be shooting yourself in the foot if you send quotes in Excel or Word. There is a problem with emailing quotes in Word or Excel: There is no guarantee that the quote will look like it should.

Is your sales process chaotic? I was surprised when three small business owners used the same word - chaos- to describe how they currently handle leads.

The weak link that might be causing you to lose leads Some of your leads never make it from your website to your inbox. And, there is a good chance you don't know about the missing leads.

Leads ghosting you? A business owner complained that his leads were ghosting (ignoring) him after initially showing interest. As we worked together we uncovered a mismatch between lead temperature and his response.

60 leads a week and no sales Their first instinct was to change the adverts. It sort of makes sense. Adverts aren’t producing sales so the adverts must be broken. Fix the adverts and you'll get more sales. But, they could change their ads, spend a load more money and get no sales. This is because the adverts might not be the real problem

Google Ads delivers leads not sales What’s the most important problem in your industry? In my industry the most important problem is that Google Ads delivers leads but doesn’t deliver sales. Here's what I've been doing about that...

How to get leads from different sources into your CRM automatically I’ve got a client in the motor trade who gets about 2 000 leads a month from 22 different online sources. Here's how we put them into his sales engine automatically without expensive computer code.