When your business spends precious time and money on marketing, you expect to generate leads that convert to sales – now or in the future. So how you respond to leads is critical, especially the ones who aren’t ready to buy now.
Prospects buy when they are ready, willing and able. So you need a process to move them along – to follow up on leads and convert them into customers. Whether you call it lead nurturing or sales management, how well you do this makes a difference in your sales results.
Related: Are Your Customers Ready, Willing and Able to Buy?
Millions of small businesses waste time and money and regularly lose sales because they lack proper follow-up and a method to nurture prospects into customers.
5 Steps To More Sales Conversions
Have a System. The best approach is a consistent one that details the steps from initial interest (lead) to conversion (sale) – in a logical, practical way. Your process should incorporate three things:
- How many touches are required to go from lead to sale. Depending on your business this will vary — but it is likely more than one or two!
- What are the best methods to connect? Don’t rely on one thing. Combining calls, emails, ads, print and social media allows you to reach people in a variety of ways without being too intrusive.
- How often should you connect? Don’t wear out your welcome by over-communicating. Seek balance in your communication.
Act Quickly. The best system won’t matter if you don’t respond to leads quickly. Often the one who gets the business is the one who got there first. Speed matters – so make it a priority.
Know the Source – and Do It Anyway. Leads come from a variety of sources such as networking, referrals, website, search engines, direct mail and social media. While it’s helpful to know the source, don’t take shortcuts based on the information or assumptions. I see this often with referrals. Yes, they may be warmer leads but use your system to nurture them into customers. Be consistent.
Cultivate the Not-Quite-Ready. This is where a lot of leads are lost. A ‘no’ today doesn’t mean forever. If the prospect is a viable candidate in the future, have a plan to build on these relationships — so they think of you when the need is there. You already invested time and money to create sales opportunities. Why waste them? Here are a few things to make it work:
- Capture leads. You can’t stay connected if you don’t have the contact information. Whether you use CRM software applications or contacts within your email system, a database for prospects is a must. The amount of detail you want to capture will vary based on the type of business and planned marketing efforts.
- Educate in small chunks. Nurturing is a marathon, not a sprint. Give potential buyers relevant information in small pieces. Think education, not selling – but do include a call to action for when they are ready.
- Vary the formats. People respond differently to communications. Don’t rely on one method – think diverse. Use a combination of emails, newsletters, personal notes, articles and other content to move them through the sales funnel.
- Plan your re-marketing. These are not new prospects, so improve conversion with a series of communications that are designed to nurture and build relationships. Include them in your marketing activities. If you tap into technology for email campaigns, auto responder services, greeting cards and thank you messages – it’s easy and allows you to use various methods to stay connected. Decide on the method, message, frequency, and timing then schedule it. How else will it get done?
Track Results. As I often remind clients — what we measure, we can improve. Know the numbers that drive your sales such as leads, conversion rates, click rates, etc. Establish goals for your sales-related metrics. Monitor how you are doing and take appropriate action.
While we all love prospects who are ready to buy now, many are not. But with a little nurturing they will be in the future. Apply these principles and watch your sales soar.
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