Congratulations! A prospective customer has demonstrated interest in one of your products by sending you an email or submitting an inquiry on your website. But what happens now? Unfortunately for most businesses, "interest" does not automatically convert to "sale". Dedicated follow-up and ongoing web presence are crucial for turning a lead into a customer. Picking up from our last blog, it's time to...
4) Nurture your Leads
Some customers require several conversations before making a purchasing decision. For small businesses, however, this can be a high-cost investment that eats up critical manpower. After all, a dedicated salesperson who accommodates strict, 1-hour customer conversations can only handle 40 unique leads in an average work week (and that's with zero bathroom breaks... yikes).
The good news is that most of the sales conversation can be automated via nurture campaigns. When a lead comes in, either via email or form submission, it is possible to kick off a series of follow up engagements to both answer questions and nudge your contact further along the sales process using a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool. A single advertisement rarely communicates the whole of your offering, and lots of customers dislike talking to a "salesperson". So, think about how you can chunk your sales pitch into several bitesize pieces of information that a lead can digest without even realizing it.
At IdeaRoom, we have a series of automated follow-ups according to our leads. For example, submitting a pricing request form on our website will kick off a handful of emails that educate prospective customers on a particular product offering. If a pricing request lead does not turn into a customer, he/she might receive a series of updates to continue the education process regarding our products and offerings. What this means is that our leads get qualified on pricing, product and process without the effort of a dedicated sales professional. It's a great way both cut costs and reduce the sales cycle.
5) Build Relationships
If a lead comes in, decides not to purchase, and never hears from you again... major facepalm! This is a huge opportunity. There are plenty of factors that may deter a customer from making a purchasing decision the fist time they view your product (we'll address these in a later post), so it's your job to build both trust and awareness in order to change their mind.
Independent of automated lead follow-up, it's important to reach out to your overall contact base with consistently helpful communication. An email newsletter is a great way to cultivate relationships and keep prospects apprised of changes, features and discounts that may motivate them to re-engage. Do you have an awesome new service? How about a helpful hint or pointer? Your potential customers need to see that you are providing value to their lives beyond just pushing a sale.
A newsletter is also a great way to continue outreach and promote loyalty within your already existing customer base. Not only will this help you to keep a steady place in the mind of your consumers, but it can help to stimulate additional purchases, up-sells, and referrals. There's no stronger lead than someone who was sent your way by a happy customer!
6) Convert "Hot" Leads to Sales
Now that you've generated a steady stream of leads and flooded your pipeline with prospective customers, it's time to prioritize those individuals who are most likely to follow through with a purchase.
It should come as no surprise that not all leads are created equal. A potential buyer who submits a quick inquiry and then leaves is very different from a buyer who spends 30 minutes browsing your site, downloading educational materials, and then submits an inquiry. The latter of the two is what we call "marketing qualified," meaning that by the time you engage them in a sales conversation, they are already decently well-versed in your brand, your products, and your overall offering. Perhaps they've even seen your prices.
CRM tools will help you keep track of leads like this, scoring their quality and likelihood of purchasing so that you can quickly sort to individuals worth pursuing. With what little time there is in each day, it doesn't make sense to waste time chasing cold leads with low levels of engagement.
At IdeaRoom, we're working to make sure that anyone who wants to can reach out to us at any time with questions about online sales, marketing or business development. Give us a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org to tell us how you land quality leads!