You’ve done everything right – your brand is killing it, your digital presence is well balanced, your products and services meet the needs of your customers and your website and brochures are well written, contain beautiful imagery and are up to date. You sit back and smile as the leads roll in.
Ok so this might be an over simplistic pipedream but let’s assume you’re doing everything you should be doing to generate new business leads – perhaps you have more than you can handle? This is of course wonderful but what’s not so wonderful is when you haven’t effectively planned the next steps and end up losing the leads you have worked so hard to get through the door.
The plain and simple truth is that your marketing and sales strategies don’t stop when the leads start. Depending on your industry, this can be the most critical time when one false move, could end in your potential customer going to the competition.
It’s likely you’re reading this and metaphorically shrugging your shoulders whilst thinking ‘whatever – I wouldn’t have that problem, I know what to do with the leads when they start coming in’. But when was the last time you properly thought about your process beyond lead generation and looked at what makes up your next steps?
We prepared our top tips to help your business nurture ongoing, positive relationships with future clients.
Have an effective database
This doesn’t mean a pile of business cards in your wallet, or hundreds of emails in your inbox in a folder called ‘sales’. If this is you, you need to take action immediately. If nothing else, a simple spreadsheet is better than nothing. There are also some excellent CRM (Customer Relationship Management) platforms such as Hubspot which are simple to use.
Make sure you include as much information as you can for example, their contact details, how the lead was generated, notes detailing conversations which have taken place and any action points. This will help you get to know the habits and preferences of your future new customers. They have come to you for a good reason, so don’t let them go for no good reason.
Know when and how you contact your leads
This is perhaps one of the most overlooked aspects of marketing because technically, it falls into sales. Whilst there is some crossover, your marketing strategy needs to seamlessly transition into sales activity to maintain consistency and engagement.
Research shows that the probability of converting a lead to a sale drops by almost 50% after just five minutes – planning is therefore, essential. Whilst calling immediately isn’t always practical or advisable, supplying an immediate email response with useful content for example, could be a great way to help you make a good first impression.
When you do pick up the phone, make sure you have a clear plan for the call and that you know what a successful outcome would look like. Depending on your product or service, it could be scheduling a face-to-face meeting or providing a product demonstration or trial. Pick the best option for your business or stage in the sales process, and stick to it.
It is vital that you don’t close off the conversation – make sure you tell your future customer what you’re going to do next. Even if there is no immediate requirement, ask if you can contact them again in a few weeks or months – whatever is appropriate. Always follow up and keep in mind that a lead may not be ready to convert into a sale for a long time, so you’ll need to be patient.
Use marketing to help convert each lead
Whilst some companies pass the demand generation gauntlet over to sales at this point, marketing still plays an important role in converting the lead. Identifying the types of content required for each stage of the sales process, allows you to arm your sales team with highly targeted and consistent messaging. This could include case studies, presentations, product information or ‘how-to’ content.
In busy sales teams, it is possible that not all leads are treated equally, with some left to go cold. With marketing automation, you can create different touchpoints such as follow up emails, technical support, or social media retargeting to deliver content relevant to that lead.
Know how to talk about your product or service
Your business should have a value, mission and vision statement. Everything you do as far as business growth goes, must connect back to these core aspects to make sure what you do matches the expectations of your audience.
Your brand will have created an expectation from the outset, so the reality must support the perception for it to truly embed confidence and trust.
Validation comes from everyone in the business – from the person who answers the phone, to the delivery staff, the accounts team and your online presence. If one of these items falls short, it has the potential to derail your audience. Ensuring everyone in your business is aware of your brand positioning and how that is translated into their roles, will help deliver your promise.
Get your front of house shipshape
At some point, it is highly likely that your leads are going to visit you, either physically or digitally. So, you need to ensure your front of house is in pristine condition. In today’s multi-media world, this includes your website, social media channels through to the more traditional components such your office or shop façade, uniforms or company car.
If the presentation of any of these items isn’t first rate, you’re giving the message that you don’t care about your business. If you don’t care about it, why would people care to buy from you?
Having pride in your presentation instils confidence. How you answer to phone, your dress code, email etiquette, collateral, business templates and overall manner are all pieces of this puzzle. Your staff are your brand ambassadors – make sure you are doing everything you possibly can to ensure they are proud to work for you and are driving your business forwards instead of backwards.
It is also important not to ignore negative feedback from staff – this is how we learn. If you are constantly hearing reports that they dislike the uniform, find out why and really listen. If staff don’t like wearing it, it will have an impact on their confidence and how they carry themselves, both of which are bad for business (not to mention staff morale).
Another aspect of your brand which you probably walk past daily without much thought, is your building signage – is your company logo clearly visible on the front of your building? If people can’t find you easily you are likely to lose them, so make sure it is. Does your office or showroom have kerb appeal? If not, fix it. This all can be done relatively quickly and cheaply.
Leads are a great indicator for future success, but converting them into sales, guarantees it. Developing marketing strategies that support sales, whilst at the same time, understanding that everyone in your business is a marketer when talking to potential or existing customer, creates a targeted, consistent and positive impression on any lead you generate.
All of these factors are within your control so take a step back and take time to consider how each of them could be working harder at helping convert leads to sales.