Buying Leads: Shared Leads vs. Exclusive Leads 

Man working an exclusive lead on the phone

If you’re looking for a cost-effective way to grow your business, you might want to consider buying leads. Purchased leads can accelerate business growth, ensure a steady flow of business, and dramatically lower your workload.  

But it’s critical that you have a firm understanding of lead generation, as well as a plan for working your purchased leads. Not only that, but you’ll also need to understand the difference between shared leads and exclusive leads. 

In this article, we’ll start by exploring those differences. We’ll look at the pros and cons of buying both shared leads and exclusive leads. A better understanding of the differences will help you determine which is best for you. Then we’ll address what to do after you start buying leads. 

Welcome to your crash course in buying leads. 

What is lead generation? 

Lead generation is a catch-all term for the process of creating opportunities for new jobs. There’s a critical word in that definition. Opportunity. 

Remember this because we’re going to revisit it. Leads are not jobs. They’re not guarantees. They’re opportunities that could lead to closed deals.  

There are many different ways to generate leads. You can use grassroots social media marketing, word-of-mouth, digital marketing, or even paid advertising. Or you can simply buy them. 

While every business leader will have their preferred form of lead generation, this isn’t a competition. There’s not really a “best way” to do it. Instead, each of these is a valid method for lead generation. 

You just need to decide which method is the best fit for your business

RELATED ARTICLE: 4 SEO Tips Contractors Can Use For Online Lead Generation 

What are purchased leads? 

Purchased leads come in a lot of different flavors. You can buy lead lists that are basically just contact information. These tend to be inexpensive but not terribly valuable. More often than not, the leads on inexpensive, long lists won’t be qualified. 

That means you’ll be cold calling folks who may or may not be interested in your services. You might as well just flip open a phone book and start dialing. 

At the other end of the spectrum are lead generation companies that qualify each and every lead. These leads will cost more per lead, but you’ll have the assurance that each potential customer is truly interested in the services you offer. 

If you’re new to buying leads, it’s tempting to go with the first kind rather than the second. After all, 500 leads at a bargain-basement price sound like a good deal, right? But consider this. If you buy 500 leads and none of them close (because none of them were well-qualified), is that really a good deal? 

On the other hand, a handful of (comparatively expensive) exclusive leads can pay for themselves. One closed deal can offset the cost of qualified leads and then some.  

This is the counter-intuitive nature of buying leads. It’s a balancing act. Sure, you don’t want to spend more on leads than is necessary. But you don’t want to waste money, either.  

Be sure the leads you’re buying are strong enough to close before you spend the money. In general, we don’t recommend unqualified, cold lead lists. 

What’s the difference between shared leads and exclusive leads? 

Let’s assume you’ve decided to purchase leads. Let’s also assume you’ve decided you’re not interested in unqualified, cold leads. You want to be sure your marketing budget is put to good use. You’re only interested in qualified leads. 

That still leaves you with a choice. Do you want shared leads or exclusive leads? 

What are shared leads? 

Shared leads are leads that are available for purchase for multiple companies. While you have the assurance of knowing the potential customer is interested in your products and services, you have to compete with others to win the deal. 

The big disadvantage of shared leads is that they’re shared. 

However, while competition is one hurdle with shared leads, there are others. First, customers are typically focused on getting service. They may not know their information has been shared with more than one company. As a result, you run the risk of calling a potential customer on the heels of one of your competitors. 

Imagine how awkward that is for the customer. No sooner are they done describing their need to one salesperson than another salesperson calls asking all the same questions all over again. It’s hardly ideal. 

Another common complaint with shared leads has to do with the quality of the leads. Your experience here will vary based on the lead provider you partner with. Just be aware that the general perception in the market is that shared leads are often less qualified leads. 

But, due to their nature, shared leads might be less expensive than exclusive leads. So there is an opportunity here to save money. And if you’re confident in your sales skills and willing to pounce on new leads as soon as they’re available, the savings could be worth it for you. 

Pros of Shared Leads 

  • Potentially lower cost per lead 
  • Potentially higher volume of leads 

Cons of Shared Leads 

  • You have to compete with every lead 
  • Potentially lower quality leads 

What are exclusive leads? 

In contrast to shared leads, exclusive leads are sent to just one business. Naturally, this gives you a much better chance of closing the deal and landing more jobs. There’s no guarantee that you’ll close exclusive leads. But you definitely won’t lose out to a competitor who’s working the same lead from the same source. 

As with shared leads, it’s possible customers won’t be aware of lead generation practices. You’ll need to make sure you begin outbound calls in a way that doesn’t confuse your potential buyer. But you’ll have the assurance that you have a leg up on any possible competition.  

You’re the only one working the lead directly. 

In general, the quality of exclusive leads tends to be higher. And if you get the occasional bad lead, there’s a better chance a lead gen partner who supplies exclusive leads will a dispute process. That allows you to bring low-quality leads to their attention. 

Exclusive leads are likely to cost a little more than shared leads. But you’re also more likely to close these leads. The additional expense can easily be offset with a higher closing ratio. 

Pros of Exclusive Leads 

  • Higher quality leads 
  • No direct competition 

Cons of Exclusive Leads 

  • Potentially lower volume of leads 
  • Potentially higher cost per lead 

What do you do with purchased leads? 

Working on Paid Leads

A solid lead source is important. But it’s equally important that you have a well-developed strategy for working your leads once you have them in hand. 

What does it mean to “work leads?” That’s the process of calling (or messaging/emailing) each lead, answering questions, and (hopefully) closing the sale. But even with exclusive, high-qualified leads, there’s an art to working leads. Very rarely will a customer just say yes as soon as you get on the phone. 

In fact, that’s not likely to ever happen. 

Instead, you’ll need to engage with your leads. You might be able to close some leads in your very first interaction. But often, you’ll need to call … and then call again a few days later, checking back in with your potential customer and moving them closer to doing business with you in small steps. 

This is called “nurturing a lead.” 

How to work purchased leads. 

As you work your leads, here are some sales tips to keep in mind. 

  • Start with discovery. Never begin a sales call with a quote. Instead, take the time to listen to your potential customer. Find out exactly what they’re looking for before you talk about yourself, your products, or your services. 
  • Meet potential customers where they are. You want a sale. Your potential customer, however, just wants a solution to a problem. Focus on addressing their issue rather than closing the deal. 
  • Use a sales script. Your sales script can (and probably should be) loose. You definitely don’t want to sound like you’re reading something. But once you figure out what works, stick with it. Write it down and follow the same pattern for each call. 
  • Treat everyone with respect. This one is obvious but still worth saying. You don’t have to like your potential customers. You’re not trying to make friends. You’re trying to do business. 
  • Don’t talk bad about your competition. Even if you know some dirt on your competitors, take the high road. More often than not, trash-talking a competitor will backfire. 
  • Smile while you’re talking—even if you’re on the phone. This is a classic sales technique, and for good reason. When you smile, it comes through in your voice. 

RELATED WEBINAR: Five Ways to Improve Your Speed to Lead 

Assess your leads. Then assess again. 

You should absolutely measure the success of your leads, regardless of the source. You need to know if they’re as qualified as they’re supposed to be, for one. You also need to determine if you’re closing as many as you expect to. If not, consider all possible explanations. 

Are the leads weak? Does your sales process need to be adjusted? Where is the misfire happening? 

Because you’re paying for these leads, you’ll be tempted to blame your lead gen partner. We’ll be candid. You should consider the possibility that the leads aren’t well-qualified. But you should also take a look at your sales process and sales staff. 

If you bounce from one lead generation service to another, burning through solid leads while your salespeople fail to close, you’re wasting money. Similarly, if you assume your sales staff is doing something wrong, but the leads are no good, you’ll burn out your own people. 

When it comes to assessing leads and closing rates, be slow to jump to conclusions. Look at all the data first. (Be sure you’re tracking all the data!) Wait until you have a clear picture of what the data indicates before you crack down on anyone. 

Ready to start getting exclusive leads? 

If you’re ready to start getting leads, we’re here to help. Just click on the button below and one of our experts will reach out to you shortly. We’ll help you determine the best leads for your business to ensure your leads align with your goals. 

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