posted in Sales & Marketing

So you’re generating leads and these are turning into enquiries….but are you kicking ass at conversion? After all that hard sales & marketing effort to bring in the enquiries and attract the leads, you don’t want to waste any opportunities that come your way. Poor conversion is like a leaky bucket, you need to find the holes and plug them - FAST! In this article we help you take a look at your bucket, and provide some bucket patching tactics!

How not to waste valuable sales leads

The first thing to remember and make sure everyone else remembers, is that EVERYONE in your organisation who interacts with the customer is a salesperson. When this mindset is instilled in your business, this realisation alone can have a profound effect.

Many people in SME businesses can appear to float through their daily business without really understanding how they’re connected to the overall success (or failure) of the business. Making the connection between the way your team respond to emails, answer phone calls, follow up on enquiries etc. and how that impacts your conversion rate positively will transform many of your team’s approach to their day job.

See the enquiry stage as you and your business being on test or trial. The way you deal with the enquiry, with speed, clarity and diligence demonstrates how you’ll deal with the job IF they select you. This is like a trial run for the order itself.

Think about it - your lead generation could be awesome, but if you don’t follow up to customer enquiries and leads in a high quality manner you will be losing work that could and should be yours...

What we’re talking about here is conversion or conversion rate - how many of the leads you generate actually turn into customers. The reasons they don’t convert can be many, including price, solution offering, lead time, but also high on the list, quality of response to the enquiry.

Look at your process - Is it a leaking bucket?

The part of the process we’re looking at here is the initial receipt or fielding of an enquiry. This is the equivalent of the “front-line” and it needs to be a tight operation, how does yours look?

It may be quite old school, but it’s one of the most impacting methods of communication, of course I’m talking about the telephone. Have you got a top notch process? Anyone who answers the phone to potential enquiries needs to be particularly skilled at engaging the customer - consistently!

If you receive email enquiries you have a perfect opportunity to respond in a highly engaging way, but you also face a risk - time! Responding in a timely manner, whether it be by email or another method is critical. This isn’t any less true for any other enquiry, the problem with email is it’s too easy to put off and forget about. Make sure you’ve got a good system, like a Customer Relationship Management system (CRM) to keep tabs on your enquiry responses!

If you’ve got a contact form on your website it’s likely you may receive enquiries directly from your site. It’s not uncommon for forms like these to break with website Content Management System updates. Even the email account the form is pointing at to can be forgotten about, or because of the infrequent level of enquiries through your website, the enquiries can end up in your spam folder. All of these potential failure modes make for a seriously leaky bucket, and a lot of wasted effort generating the leads in the first place.

Patching up your leaking sales bucket

As promised we’ll cover some practical leak prevention techniques for your sales bucket.

Make it clear to your team - Feelings are everything

First things first make sure everyone in your team is on the same page. The way you make your customers feel with your enquiry handling and response is what you’re focusing on with all of these practical tactics. Answering enquiry calls poorly, not responding to enquiry emails quickly enough or not at all are all great ways of making your leads feel unwanted or ignored.

Stop Thinking Price Is Everything

When a lead asks for a price, you can simply respond by giving a straight-forward price or you can offer more. Asking questions diverts attention away from just the price, it allows you to demonstrate value. How will you deliver their requirement? What’s important to this potential customer? These are questions you should be able to answer after talking with the new lead.

Questions invite your prospects into a conversation and a conversation allows you to listen and build rapport. Even when they ask for a price, they don’t really just want a price, prospects want to feel understood and assured you know your stuff. Conversation is EVERYTHING.

Nail your first response

First impressions last. It’s an age old saying, but that doesn’t make it any less true! Nailing your first response to enquiry handling is so critical to your conversion rate and patching that leaky bucket! Be prepared and have a plan, that’s pretty much the only way to nail your first response. This doesn’t mean creating a conveyor of bland automatic responses or scripted questions, but having an agreed approach with your team means you can build and share best practice.

Practical Tactics for patching up the sales bucket

The objective is to have a consistent engaging way of dealing with enquiries, regardless of whether they arrive by email, telephone or otherwise.

  • When it comes to creating a conversation, have an idea of the types of questions to ask - but don’t have a script
  • Have an auto-responder for enquiries that come in from your website thanking them for their enquiry and re-directing them to something of value on your website or; give them the name and number of a real person who they can call to follow up - set the expectation of how long it should take to respond to an enquiry
  • Don’t just forget about a lead even if you don’t win the work - as long as you’ve got permission you can continue to email them with marketing emails
  • Set an expectation for the response time on an enquiry from your very first response
  • Set yourself a target for maximum response time on leads based on your experience and the expectations you set your leads
  • Manage your enquiries with a system. Whether that be an excel spreadsheet or a Customer Relationship Management system (CRM) keep a track of how much your leads are worth and how your enquiry responses are progressing
  • If using templates for emails or enquiry responses, make sure you personalise! Templates are great for speeding things up, but they are also an easy way of making leads feel like they’re just another enquiry
  • Measure and learn - improving your conversion rate isn’t something you do once, it’s something you should be doing continuously

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