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How to Optimize Form Conversion Rates (2) – Sales Lead Forms

How to Optimize Form Conversion Rates (1) – Contact Forms
July 18, 2012
Complex Form Branching and Conditional Logic
August 6, 2012

How to Optimize Form Conversion Rates (2) – Sales Lead Forms

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If your business website were a tangible store, the sales lead form would be the front door, with a bell. This form makes a vital link of your B2B or B2C sales chain, as it captures useful information about prospects and unveils the customer personas you can tailor future offers to. Just imagine doing all this prospecting by yourself… it’s humanly impossible, in terms of both time and effort.

And a web form does even more. Just as a welcoming salesman talks to each client for learning his or her personal needs, your website’s sales lead form starts the very first conversation with people who may become buyers in the near future – it’s about winning people over through consultation. This is nothing less, nothing more than the heart of modern sales.

It’s vital that your sales lead form gets its best shape in order to capitalize the most of your site visits and earn leads for your business. Here are some actionable tips to boost your form conversion rates and make it the best pre-seller of your products and services.

Best lead gathering strategies 

It all starts with a good marketing plan. The first question in people’s minds when the form prompts them to take action will be: “What’s in there for me?”. You have to display the form together with the promise of an exciting follow-up for users, to bring the dose of motivation necessary for filling in the fields. Here are some good approaches you can use within your sales lead form:

  1. “Find the best offer” kind of form. This asks for people’s details in exchange for a clear and tailored summary of their benefits on the webpage. The form can either redirect to a page where a price calculation is automatically generated, or let people know that the sales team is to get in touch soon. Filling this type of form actually means that people voluntarily request for the sales conversation to continue. As it lacks an immediate incentive, fill-in rates are rather modest, but the bright side is that it generates highly qualified leads.
  2. “Get a free resource” which can be an e-book, whitepaper, report, or even a discount coupon. This strategy is most people’s cup of tea, as it brings lots of impulse fill-ins.
  3. Online contest – a great way to gather fresh leads and boost your email subscription. You will ask people to fill in the form in order to get a chance of winning something, so there’s no prize for everyone, which may diminish the enthusiasm. Undeniably, the best participation rates are obtained when everyone gets something, not when they have a 1/100 chance to lay their hands on it. However, contests are highly engaging, for – well – the adrenaline and the rush.
  4. A simple feedback form/contact form can be a lead generation form too. “Please enter your contact details here so we can stay in touch” – this is a decent call to action if you don’t have a clear marketing offer for the moment.

If you incentivize, be clear about what you are offering in exchange for people submitting your form, and explain the way they are going to get it. When you are doing a contest, keep the rules simple and accessible. People should be able to understand instantly what are their benefits and the path to obtain them.

Collect useful information for your sales pitch 

Your goal as a marketer or sales manager altogether is to gather as much information about your prospects as possible, without asking for too much and make people drop out. It’s a delicate balance you have to keep, and you are probably not going to attain it from the first time, but after series of A/B testing (don’t you worry, we’ve all been there).

The main concept we should start from is permission. The form should ask for and obtain people’s agreement to enter their data into your records and NOT simply their contact data. Basically, the more questions you include, the more permissions you ask from your users; phone number implies the permission to call them, physical address – the capacity to post them materials. Careful not to overdo requests, or you can lose people on the way. This doesn’t mean you cannot include personal information fields in the form at all, but just limit to the data you are sure to need and use, in respect for people’s time and intimacy principles.

What to ask and not to ask in your sales lead form?

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Form content: less is more, smart tricks allowed

We’ve stated it – your form has to build a relationship and not ask for an excessive amount of information upfront. Now, wording of your form content (labels, section titles) can also influence conversion rates. Too short labels create confusion; for example, asking just for Name as a text field instead of First + Last Name as a name field can lead to incomplete or bogus submissions, where people just enter their nickname. Also, too long labels clutter the form visually. The optimum structure is a maximum 3-4 words label accompanied by some instructions if more specific information is needed.

In the form’s headline, avoid using phrases like “Please submit your sales lead form”. Not any mention to sales is appropriate, this is an internal nomenclature which can hurt your image if used literally. Customers should feel part of a free human interaction, not of some impersonal human mechanism.

Sometimes, people fill in incentivized forms with their secondary emails just for the sake of getting a freebie. You need their real email address, not a bogus one. To make them use that, don’t redirect to the gift download page right from the “thank you” page, but ask people to go to their email inboxes and access a link to get the freebie.

Other must-have elements in your form:

  • referral information, to track where the visitor originated
  • field validation, to minimize the occurrence of invalid submissions
  • smart CAPTCHA

Create a seal of trust

Testimonials and personal recommendations next to the sales lead form make a great landing page mix that will help create a positive image in the eyes of website visitors. People trust people, and a two-lines testimonial can be 10 times of more value than a page full of marketing babble. As another guarantee of your best intentions, you should definitely link to your privacy policy when you are asking for user’s email address, or even more, for his or her phone number.

Place the form above the fold and go social 

The sales lead form should be displayed somewhere it can be reachable from a glance. It’s a good idea to use a striking color combination inside the form or for the Submit button, as far as it matches the overall page design. Not many readers scroll down to the footer of your page, so it’s better to place the form just below the header. Best conversions are obtained with forms that don’t require an extra click to open, as it happens with sidebar buttons.

Your website is just one of the spots where the sales lead form can do its mission. Another great location is on your Facebook fan page, to turn your Facebook likes into customers. Don’t forget to link your form with Salesforce or your CRM of choice, to import submissions automatically and make it easy for your sales team to use them further on.

Good luck!


Image courtesy: freedigitalphotos.net


  1. Evelyn Burns says:

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  2. […] series on the 123ContactForm Blog. Check out the other tip articles too – Contact Forms, Sales Lead Forms, Surveys and Feedback […]

  3. Excellent, what a website it is! This blog presents useful data to us, keep it up.

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