Nebulous, by definition, means “indefinite.” On the other hand, a lead is still a lead. At a time when the economy isn't performing in our best interests, and the scare tactics of the press inhibit some prospects, the nebulous lead can be a benefit to your company.

A prospect is someone who can use your products or services. The lead is what occurs when that prospect responds to your advertising or solicitation. However, the prospect who doesn't respond to your advertising is still a prospect. Here's where the nebulous lead can play a role. Marketers typically identify this prospect by exhorting him or her to “obtain this free sample” — “visit our Web site for ...,” or “read this free information on ...” All will bring nebulous leads into play.

Most individuals responding to this technique are prospects for the product or service that lies behind the solicitation. But that nebulous lead, once generated, requires finessing far beyond that of the prospect who says “come see us” or “give us an estimate.” Nonetheless, this nebulous prospect has identified him or herself as a potential customer, someone who needs or can use the products or services you sell. Converting this lead to an appointment requires a scripted response system as well as an attitude adjustment for the salesperson given the lead.

In today's marketplace, nebulous leads represent great potential. This less costly lead-getting method can be the key to balancing the high cost of more qualified leads.

DON'T WAIT My book, Why … Buy Replacement Windows?, argues that modern replacement windows reduce home heating and maintenance costs. In addition to conventional marketing methods, the publisher makes it available as an e-book.

Prevailing wisdom says that more than 85% of those acquiring the book are prospects for window replacement. Wise marketers won't simply wait for those receiving this information to call for estimates; they'll establish a method to contact these prospects, converting nebulous leads to qualified ones. —Dave Yoho is president of the oldest, largest, most successful consulting group serving the home improvement industry.; 703.591.2490.