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When they click, they’re interested.

Candice-MugMost digital leads show up as some variation of an online information request. They provide only the contact information they want to — which might or might not include everything you want them to provide. You dig up their phone number and call, and they either don’t respond, or they say they’ll get back to you when they’re ready. And at that point, I hear clients start characterizing these “leads” as uninterested.

I don’t think you should do that. Consider this:

1. Most consumers just plain don’t like talking to salespeople. (It’s why we visit car dealerships after hours — so we can browse without engaging a sales rep.) Seniors, no less than any other consumers, will avoid conversations with sales counselors whenever they can. It doesn’t mean they don’t plan to buy. It just means they aren’t ready to interact personally. And with so much information on the Web already, maybe they don’t need to talk: They actually aren’t “ready yet” because they’re still researching.

2. Community websites, online directories and consumer reviews abound. It’s awfully easy for digitally savvy seniors to collect lots of information quickly, in the comfort of their homes, and without speaking to sales counselors. And when you think about it, that means consumers are shopping exactly the way they like to shop — and that’s a great thing!

3. Did they give you their e-mail address, but not their phone number? So e-mail them! Many people find that e-mail is an ideal communication tool: It gives just enough distance for moving the conversation along before getting personal. Why do you think has been such a success? If you assume they’re disinterested because they’re avoiding the personal phone call, you may be missing their invitation to create an e-mail relationship as a prelude to a bigger conversation.

4. What pages of your site did they visit? They’re your signal as to what their needs are because on the Web, they’re in charge: They click only what they’re interested in. (When you need boots, for example, you head over to and click on boots not sneakers.) One more thing: When you know they’ve been on your website, ask them what they learned there. Their answer will begin to reveal what’s on their mind and what they’re looking for.

5. Respond. And do so in a timely way. You’re being judged on your efficiency, professionalism and content. If you pass these tests, you’ll make it onto their list of communities under serious consideration.

6. Always remember an online senior researcher is doing so of their own volition because they have a need.  People rarely go looking for information if they don’t care about getting it.

7. Need more convincing? Consider how you would take on this search yourself. Wouldn’t you go online? And wouldn’t you request information from the communities that looked most appropriate for your lifestyle and location? You might not provide your phone number, because you want to look at their information first, right? And then, when you’re ready, you interact with a sales counselor. So if you took on this search yourself, you would control the interaction. Just like the seniors visiting your website, asking for information and resisting your phone calls.

Digital leads may be different for the way they collect information and move toward their decision point. But they sure aren’t uninterested.

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