“Green Flags”: Tips For Recognizing High Potential Leads In Your Freelancing Pipeline

Lead scoring: can you tell your high potential leads from those less likely to turn into customers? Photo by Lukas from Pexels

If you’re shoring up your efforts in the realm of inbound marketing then sooner or later — if your efforts bear fruit — you’re going to notice an uptick in the number of inbound leads that make it into your pipeline.

Before I go any further, let me explain why I’ve added the “freelancing” qualifier to the title of this article. For the past five years, I’ve been operating at the smallest (solo marketing consultant) level of scale.

If you want to know how to tell which multi-million deal prospects are likely to convert and which are not then I’m 100% unqualified to provide advice as I have zero experience in this domain. Speak to a B2B sales manager and I’m sure they’d have lots to say about that.

However, I have handled plenty of inbound leads for consulting services over the years and have begun to develop a sixth sense for which are going to materialize into business and which are going to …. end up dropping out of the pipeline.

This sixth sense is invaluable because — when things get busy — it can help direct you to where it’s best to focus efforts. You can’t put together an amazing

I’ve spoken before about the red flags that should give you pause for thought before adding a new account to your freelance/consulting book of business.

But today, let’s look at the opposite. What clues might tip you in to who the high potential leads might be in your pipeline.

(Everything here is based on personal experience and intuition; I don’t have data to back up these claims.)

They’re Oddly Focused

The most reliable gauge I have for whether a prospect is going to convert is the level of focus that they bring to the first interaction.

This one’s a little tricky to explain.

Window shoppers — those who might be blitzing out quotes to lots of potential vendors — tend to leave off subtle signals that they’re not really all that serious about doing business with you.

I’m not saying that these leads aren’t worth of attention. Simply that if you want to try to focus on those that have the most potential, these mightn’t be the ideal targets of your focus.

A message from a window shopper might sound very much like it’s copy and pasted or a quick adaptation from a boilerplate. Whereas outreach from a highly engaged prospect will be a lot shorter and to the point.

Generic style outreach from a potential window shopper:

Hi Daniel,

I came across your website and would love to hear more about the type of marketing consulting service that you offer.

We’re a 50 person tech firm based in Seattle and are thinking about doing more in this area this year.

Have a few minutes to chat on Zoom about this?

I’d give this type of message a lead score of about 2 out of 5.

Much more focused outreach:

Hi Daniel,

I saw that you offer marketing communications consulting and we could definitely use some of that right now. I liked the fact that you have tech experience because that’s exactly our space- we’re a backup provider.

We’re looking to onboard some kind of resource to cover this area by early next month and I looked at your resume and think you could be a great match. More specifically, we’re about to make some new appointments and need somebody to lay the groundwork for PR. Let me know if it would be possible to talk about this this week and whether you’re open to the idea of working on a retainer?

And I’d rate this a 4 and make sure to follow up.

They Know What They Need And When They Need It Actioned By

As the above example messages make clear (they’re not real, by the way, but are very representative of the type of messages I’ve received over the years), prospects that are really determined also tend to have already done the groundwork to understand and layout what their identifiable need is.

The more specific they can be the better.

They know what they need. They know approximately when they need it. And they’re interested in having a conversation with you to see whether you can be the service provider to address those “pain points.”

They’ve Done Their Homework About You

If a prospect is really serious about hiring you as a freelancer or consultant, then they’ll typically send out some signals that they’ve invested a bit of time in actually checking out your business — or you — in order to evaluate whether you might be the right man or woman for the job.

They might reference case studies you have on your website demonstrating your work for previous clients. They might make it clear that they’re already familiar with your professional background.

The more leads you handle, the easier it becomes to get an intuitive sense for those that are likely to turn into business and those who will probably end up wasting your time.

Obviously lead scoring can be whittled down to a near exact science — many CRMs have formulae that do this automatically — but there are also some intangible personal dimensions that need to be taken into account.

These are some of the signals that I’ve found useful to determine whether an inbound lead is “really serious” or “just shopping around.”



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Daniel Rosehill

Daniel Rosehill

Daytime: writing for other people. Nighttime: writing for me. Or the other way round. Enjoys: Linux, tech, beer, random things. https://www.danielrosehill.com