My soapbox in the corner appears to be getting dusty, so let me drag it out and talk about lead generation companies and The Golden Rule. Flashing back to kindergarten, you should remember The Golden Rule as something like, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This is the phrase I would like you to think about when the FTC or CFPB come knocking on your office door someday. Are you treating leads the way you would like to be treated as a lead? I am certainly not trying to be glib here. This is a real problem for a lot of lead companies. Fortunately, in most cases, I believe this is a solvable problem. You have to provide some value to the lead, and you have to be honest with them.

Are you telling leads what you are going to do with their information once they hit that submit button? Does the thought of that send shivers up your spine as you imagine your conversion rate dropping like a rock? Would you let your mother fill out your lead form? Try to challenge yourself with the question of what it would take in order for you to feel good about your mother filling out that lead form. Answer these two questions:

the golden rule

What should you stop doing?

Do you need to keep ancillary data fields much longer than it takes to process and sell the lead? Probably not. Set the system to delete those fields. Stop hiding the process from the lead. Explain the benefits of being matched with a pre-vetted buyer you know can provide them with good service (more on that double whammy below). Money from aged leads might be fairly easy and nice to have, but is it really what is best for the lead? Instead of just blindly reselling the lead’s information over and over 30, 60, 90 days down the road, setup an email or phone campaign and ask the lead if they still need help. Sometimes people have a need and fill out a lead form only to him and haw for a few weeks. Your first lead buyer(s) might not be very good at their job and have given up. Generate a fresh lead from the old one and you can sell it as real time again. Everybody wins in that situation. Everybody does not win if you resell their information 20 times and they already went with your first real time buyer. That does not do the lead or the aged buyers any good.

Are you collecting fields solely because the lead buyers say they want them? Want and need are clearly not the same thing. How angry do you get when you go through your bank’s IVR phone system and you have to give them a ton of information only to have to say it again once you get a human customer representative on the phone? Pretty pointless I would say. You are doing the same thing by collecting all of those fields. On top of that, you are also costing yourself money. The fewer fields you collect the more leads you will generate. Try whittling the fields down to just contact information and what you need for routing. You should be able to generate more leads at a lower price and your buyers will appreciate that.

What can you start doing?

How much work do you think lead companies put in towards vetting their lead buyers, beyond seeing if their credit card goes through? Is that a valid litmus test that this buyer will treat your lead with The Golden Rule in mind? Start taking ownership of the situation and consider the lead your responsibility. With that in mind, and remembering that the lead could be mom, how should you really vet your lead buyers? With a small amount of time and money you can easily have an outside person do the research if you do not have the manpower to do it in house. Obviously lead buyer vetting is not exactly a business you see on every corner. The internet is a beautiful thing though in that finding somebody to do about anything is quite easy. As an experiment I took a YouTube song I wanted sheet music done for and started looking. 24 hours and $25 dollars later, thanks to UpWork, I have it in front of me. Same process can be done for your lead buyers. Find somebody online to check the buyer’s BBB rating, Yelp reviews, Google reviews, general Google search, and Secretary of State lookup (is the business real?). You can then consolidate some of this information and send it to your leads so they can save some time and make an informed decision on which of your buyers to choose (assuming you are selling leads non-exclusively here). If you see some buyer with page after page of complaints, do the right thing, refund their credit card and walk away.

Arm yourself with a list of things you are doing to help the lead as well as a list of known bad practices you are not doing. This is a defensive arsenal you may need some day if the government comes knocking… or your mother starts filling out that lead form.

Brad Seiler, founder of, contributed to this post.