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January 26, 2022 by Service Direct

Exclusive vs. Shared Leads for Contractors

If you own a business with a web presence and/or rely on the web to drive traffic to your business, you’re probably familiar with lead generation services. When opting into a lead generation company’s services, you have an opportunity to optimize your website at the hands of experts and significantly enhance your SEO strategy by improving your rankings for prime keywords, and, subsequently, your profit potential.

By exercising a well-calculated, strategic SEO tactic, you should be—in theory—casting a wider net into a sea of quality, promising leads. But as we say and over: All leads are not created equal. Knowing the difference is the difference between outranking your competition and acquiring a solid stream of new customers looking for the very services you provide in your area.

Within the world of lead generation companies, there are multiple business models that all boil down to you paying someone to drive potential customers your way. Sometimes that entails paying for every click on one of your company’s ads. Other times that entails paying for authentic leads from third parties.

In the case of the latter arrangement, there’s a distinction you should understand before pulling the trigger on purchasing leads—and that’s the difference between exclusive and shared leads. 

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What is a "Shared Lead"?

Shared leads are the kinds of leads that are most commonly sold and purchased.

Most lead generation companies offer both shared and exclusive leads, although shared leads are more common. When you’re buying a shared lead, it means the lead can be sold up to five times, sometimes more, to different buyers.


Depending on the vertical or industry, these buyers are most of the times a mix between national and local buyers. Although shared leads increase competition for buyers to certain degree, since multiple buyers have the lead’s contact data, they are sold at a much lower price than exclusive leads enabling advertisers to buy more volume. Usually, buyers with a strong brand and optimal sales processes can really make shared leads work for them since their brand awareness is high and they are able to follow up fast – two factors that are helpful in converting leads in a shared lead model.

The Pros:

  • Shared leads are cheaper than exclusive leads
  • Potentially higher volume available
  • Creates more value for consumers because they are able to obtain and compare multiple quotes

The Cons:

  • If you don't have an optimal sales process, it will be hard for you to convert these leads into customers because one of the other lead buyers will jump on it before you do.
  • Creates a lack of transparency because buyers don’t have insights into how many times leads were sold and to whom
  • This model increases the chance that bad leads may be forwarded
  • Lower conversion rates and more overhead spent nurturing leads
  • Lower average ticket prices than exclusive leads 

They’re cheaper than exclusive leads, but not necessarily more cost-effective. Companies that have strong brand awareness, fantastic websites, competitive products or services, and a competent team are the ones who do best with this kind of scenario. These established and on-their-game companies thrive with shared leads because there is a limit to how many times a lead can be shared with competitors—and if a company runs a tight enough ship, they can reasonably assume that they’ll look more impressive than their competitors.

Shared Form Lead - Diagram

So companies that would rather not share their leads with competitors, exclusive leads might be the better choice.

What is an "Exclusive Lead"?

Exclusive leads take away the competition factor but are often sold at a much higher price. The most common type of exclusive leads is a live transfer, for example via click-to-call functionality. While exclusive leads allow buyers to have dibs on certain leads, they have less of a chance to be selective about leads.


  • Overall quality is higher
  • If your public brand awareness is low, exclusive leads may be the way to go
  • Puts you at an advantage because you are more likely to contact leads first
  • Exclusive leads give more possibility to target certain service areas (if required)


  • Higher cost
  • Potentially lower volume

Exclusive leads give a business the opportunity to receive lead information without it being shared with competitors. That means potential customers are given an option rather than options, which makes the likelihood of conversion much greater. This is clearly advantageous for every kind of company—from startups to established professionals—but it has to make sense from a financial perspective. Because exclusive leads are precious, they usually cost more than shared leads.

Exclusive vs Shared: What is right for you?

Only you can decide. If you don’t have a problem budgeting for it, it’s a surer path toward sealing a deal. If a potential customer is only reaching out to you, you have a higher likelihood of converting them into a customer. The downside here is that you’ll have fewer leads with exclusive deals (albeit with less competition) than with shared deals. If you think your business and team might make the cut and stand out among competitors to potential customers, you might find that your profit margins are more impressive with shared leads.

The good thing about exclusive vs. shared leads—and all other nuances involved in lead generation services—is that you’re free to tinker with things. Take a close look at your analytics. Keeping tabs on what is working in your advertising strategies and what isn’t is essential if you want to grow and continue to grow.

Consider your particular company’s offerings, strengths, and weaknesses. And of chief importance, consider your budget. Lastly, consider the real return on investment potential. You may find that spending more on exclusive leads will, in all likelihood, lead to higher profit margins.

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