Don't waste your sales leads!
January 24, 2014 at 11:14 AM
Sales leads are a key driver of business growth. However generating sales leads is only half of the equation. Converting them into paying customers is just as important.
Far too many businesses throw away potential sales opportunities by failing to do the basics. Your lead-to-sale conversion rate is one of the most important metrics in your business. If you currently convert 3/10 sales leads into paying customers, what would the impact be if you doubled this to 6/10? Pretty huge, right?
Like most things, the basics of sales conversion are no secret. Many small businesses know deep down where they're falling short. But like most things, the basics take some discipline and effort to implement.
Below are the 10 most effective sales conversion practices you can implement into your business now.
The 10 basics of sales conversion
Measure your sales conversion rate
Do you actually know your leads-to-sale conversion rate? Many businesses we talk to don't, or only have a vague idea at best. Until you know what your conversion rate is, you won't know if it's improving when you implement the changes below.
It's easy to find this out. Simply keep 2 columns in a spreadsheet – leads and sales. Every time you get a lead, record it. Every time you get a sale, record it. At the end of three months, divide sales by leads, multiply by 100 and you've got your close rate %. It just takes a bit of discipline.
Answer the phone!
This sounds as obvious as breathing air, but the degree to which businesses are simply unavailable to take sales calls is astounding. Don't be one of them. When people make phone enquiries, they are usually feeling a degree of urgency to solve their problem. If they ring and don't get through, chances are you've lost them to a competitor. Ensure the following is happening in your business:
- Have the phones manned every minute of the working day. If you're a one-man-band, organise a call divert to your cell phone. If you're a larger company and the sales team are not available, have the call divert to an open line for your team to take a message. Remember, potential customers are more likely to leave a message with a team member than with an answering-machine.
- The worst-case scenario should be a professional answering machine message. If you have a personal message, versus a professional one that doesn't state your business name, change the message now. Even worse, if you don't have an answering machine, get one!
Respond to online form leads fast!
Remember, every minute you don't respond to someone's enquiry is a chance for them to talk with a competitor. The best leads are highly motivated. These people have "momentum," and are the most likely to want immediate action, so make sure you get in touch with them fast.
Regularly check your inbox throughout the day for fresh leads. When they come in, make responding to them a priority. You'll always have other stuff on your plate, but servicing leads must be a priority. Set a KPI with your team around an acceptable lead response time. We'd recommend no longer than one business day.
Finally, never respond to a lead via email (unless requested in the enquiry). Sending an email and then saying "it's in their court now" will drastically minimise your close rate. Be proactive – call them, uncover their needs, pitch your value proposition and then agree on a next step. An email cannot achieve this.
Know your value proposition inside-out
Let's say someone asked you this question right now: "Why would I do business with your company versus your competitors?" How would you answer it? Here are some key questions that can help you uncover your value proposition:
Do you have a deep and clear understanding of what makes your business unique?
- What makes people talk about your company?
- Why do people choose to do business with you? Have you asked them?
- What do you deliver that no-other competitor can? Tip: the answer is not "great service." Look deeper.
Now, can you answer this question concisely in less than 1 minuite? This is known as your "elevator pitch." A short, concise explanation of what your company does, and why people choose you to do it.
Sales scripts have connotations of being inauthentic, or sounding "scripted." The best sales scriptsdon't sound read. They're natural and conversational, in a style that connects with the target customer. They're carefully designed to:
- uncover the potential customer's needs
- assess whether both parties are a good fit to do business together
- clearly communicate how the business's value proposition can fulfil the prospect's needs
- align the prospect's expectations with what will be delivered
- outline a clear next step moving forward
You should have sales scripts for:
• The initial needs-assessment call
• Your answering machine message
• Your sales presentation or consultation
• Follow-up and potential objections
The process of writing sales scripts will make you more aware of why people chose to do business with you. Your sales calls will become less "all over the place" and more focused. Most importantly, you'll convert more leads into paying customers.
Know what questions to ask
When you get an enquiry, you need to be crystal clear on what questions you need to ask. People do business with people who truly understand their needs, and have clearly explained how they can fulfil them. Too often, salespeople do too much talking, and not enough listening. Every product and service is different, but here are some examples of some general "qualifying questions" you should be asking:
- What are your objectives? (what outcomes are they looking to achieve)
- Have you ever ____ (done this type of project, used this type of service etc) before?
- Are you familiar with how the process works?
- What are your timeframes?
- What is your budget?
Always end with an agreed next step
You should never end a sales conversation without a mutually agreed next step. This may be a scheduled time for a consultation, a quote to be sent, a follow-up date agreed, a deposit to be paid etc. You need to be clear on what you're looking to achieve, and actively work towards this outcome throughout the call.
Have professional supporting documents – quotes, email signatures and marketing collateral
Every time a prospect receives something from your company, it's an opportunity to demonstrate professionalism and expertise. Having professional and well-designed quoting and marketing collateral is simply a must.
Remember, if a prospect is considering a range of companies, and looking over quotes and presentation documents, this stuff is vital. If yours is a cut above the rest, it may give you the edge to win the business. If quality supporting documents improved your lead to sale close rate by just 5%, it would be well worth the effort, right?
Do what you say you'll do
A super-basic one. People do business with companies that demonstrate trust and credibility. Every commitment you make and keep pre-sale will improve your close rate. Be on time for meetings, send out quotes promptly, follow-up when you say you will. Under-promise and over deliver – if you say you'll have the quote to them by tomorrow morning, shoot for this evening. Demonstrate your
professionalism and commitment to service at every opportunity.
Training and Role Practice
Do you have regular sales training sessions with your team? The needs assessment call, presentation, and potential objection responses need to be perfect. Two steps that will bring immediate results:
- Make sure new employees are given full and detailed sales training, based on a documented sales manual. Include target customer profile, scripts, objections, product knowledge etc.
- Schedule at least one session every month, and practice different objections based on practice situations that have resulted in lost sales.
Why not schedule into your diary a two hour block to tackle some of the
areas on this list that you know you're falling short on? Remember, double your leads and you double your sales. Double your lead-to-sale conversion rate,
and you double your sales. Double both, and quadruple your sales!