Don’t Scare the Buyer Off on the Reg Form: 3 Things You Don’t Ask on a First Date

More and more, marketers are trying to “qualify” leads through their Web registration form.   I don’t believe in this practice.  I am believer in “business card” information and geo and company targeting. Geography is a common question (thanks, though, for the thousands of leads from Kazakhstan, but I have no sales presence there), and I understand company size. I don’t believe this information causes pause for users.

What I don’t get is the “qualification” questions about budgets and projects. As Web users, we fill out plenty of forms. Do you really want to tell a company you have a project in the works? And that you have a budget? That’s basically chumming the water for the sharks, and users know that. So, essentially you are scaring prospects away, thus hurting conversion rates or in the case of the user actually filling out that form, creating fake data. Or catching the smallest fish in the organization who needs to be thrown back.

There is an easy rule here: Don’t ask anything you wouldn’t ask on a first date.

Here are the three most important questions:

  1. How much money do you have (or, at least, the range)? Do you have budget? If so, how big is it?  Guys, get real. The budget question is inappropriate. It’s a judgment call whether it’s even appropriate on the first call.  You need to establish a relationship and common interests and ensure the person likes you before you can ask that. Jumping into the budget question right away makes you look desperate. It makes you look like you are worried about who’s going to pay for dinner.
  2. I don’t know you, but I’m concerned about the following potential problems you might have. Please choose one so I know how to approach the rest of dinner. These questions are usually phrased empathetically in terms of “pain,” “what keeps you up at night” or  “what problem are you trying to solve”? And, presumptuously, your issues are pre-selected and served up a la carte in a drop-down menu.  Dude, this one is incredible. Don’t fake concern. They don’t know you yet, so why would they trot out their character flaws?
  3. How long will it be till we sleep together? (In case you’re missing the connection here, these are the reg form timeframe questions.)  This one’s worth a shot because you really have nothing to lose if you’ve gotten this far. But no one really answers this question honestly and most want to avoid it altogether. They know you will call them, but they may not be ready to get serious so soon.

The bottom line is:  It’s noble to try, but don’t use reg forms to do the job of your lead qualification or sales team.  You are scaring great prospects off, and are hurting conversion too little benefit.  Use your reg forms to confirm interest, target your market, and get their info.  Gather more data on your second date or your third when you’ve both invested some time.

Craig Rosenberg is the Funnelholic. He loves sales, marketing, and things that drive revenue. Follow him on Google+ or Twitter

  • Excellent post! Thank you for making it so abundantly clear that companies have to earn the prospect’s trust first before asking for “personal” information.

    In our experience, those prospects that are hot-to-trot prefer to pick up the phone and the lukewarm ones, those who are comparison shopping, will fill out forms (they have time). As a result, asking lukewarm prospects the “qualification” questions in a web form is useless; it will turn them off (especially if you make those fields mandatory!) but the hot prospects will gladly share that info over the phone.

    The learning for us at WiderFunnel Marketing is that in many industries, offering both web forms and a phone number is mandatory. We then run conversion optimization experiments that provide a cross-channel view.

    Raquel Hirsch