How to Convert Marketing Leads to Sales
So you have successfully created awareness in your ideal prospect’s mind, and positioned your company to win through an engaging online buying experience. But what happens next can make or break the success of your company. How quickly and the way your sales people follow up on marketing generated leads can have enormous effect on who your prospects will buy from - and ultimately the return on your marketing investment.
Response Time is Key
According to Leads360’s analysis of 25 million data points, speed is the single most critical component to lead conversion. Conversion rates are 391% higher when the lead is called within a minute of their inquiry; 120% within two minutes; 98% in under three minutes; 62% in under 30 minutes; and 36% in under an hour. Even leads that eventually become qualified are sensitive to initial speed-to-call. Research shows that even though the consumer may go price shopping, a sense of ‘loyalty’ drives them back to the vendor who called them first. By initially providing consumers with education and responsive customer service, smart companies are able to create strong social and psychological bonds that tend to override competing offers.
I have heard some ask “Won’t they be alarmed that you are calling them so quick?” Well if you have correctly qualified your leads, then the answer is “no”. These prospects are looking for answers and do not want to waste time, so talking to someone who can help actually turns into a big positive. Ultimately, receiving and reacting to leads in real-time is critical to maximizing conversion rates. The companies that do this best measure reaction-time-to-new leads in seconds, not hours. By doing so, they achieve the first contact advantage with prospects.
Alignment Makes a Difference
Today’s consumers are more knowledgeable than ever. If they are reaching out to your company online it is a given that they have done some level of research into your company or solution to their problem. When these knowledgeable buyers contact a sales person, alignment to their stage in the buying process is critical to the chances of them changing from leads into customers.
Put yourself in the shoes of your prospect for moment. Let’s assume that you have decided to buy a new 2011 Honda Odyssey for your family and have already done your research online. You know the fuel mileage, consumer reports, and all the awards that the vehicle has received. Now you are planning to visit three dealerships to get the best price. The salesperson at the first dealership greets you. He then takes you over to all new Odysseys and feels compelled to go over every little feature. After a test drive he shows you the plaques for outstanding service that all dealerships seem to have. Finally, after you have endured the sales pitch, you get an idea of their price and escape. Now going into the second dealership you are even surer you have the car you want - it’s just a matter of price. It’s a big pain to hear about all the features again and have to go through the sales pitch once again. You know what you want, but that is exactly what happens. Your tolerance for “being sold” is very low and your impression of each subsequent dealership is just getting worse.
Now let’s assume you go to the third dealership and things are different almost right from the handshake. The salesperson, Amy, is dressed professionally and acts in a professional manner and seems more intent on displaying competence than try to “close” you. Instead of going through the same sales pitch you have already heard before, she:
- Asks what you know about the vehicle or if you need a brief overview.
- Asks you what features in a new vehicle are important to you and what your needs now and in the future will be.
- Gives you the opportunity to share any information that you found during your search and does not treat you like some novice who does not know anything.
- Points out some key features or benefits that you did not already know that applies to your personal situation or needs.
- Raises some questions that you might not have thought of that can affect your decision.
- Provides you with a detailed pricing with multiple purchase options that will fit your specific needs and budget.
After meeting with Amy you realized that she had raises the bar. By comparison, the other sellers had take a “quote and hope” approach. She understands, and in fact helps to clarify your requirements/needs, while avoiding the need to “pitch” you. Without a doubt she provides you with a superior buying experience and pretty much guarantees her preferred status.
Don’t Sell, Help People Buy
Selling was something that buyers tolerated much more during the pre-internet days because they had no alternative. It was clear that the sales person had an agenda on how to influence your requirements. The problem is many sales people are still using this approach today. This causes great frustration for today’s more educated buyers and causes many potential sales to be lost. This is, and will continue to be, a challenge until more organizations and sales people embrace the concept of empowering buyers. Companies that do not align their sales and marketing initiatives with their prospect’s buying stage run the risk of not being invited to bid ,or merely being leveraged to get a the best possible price from a seller who does align with their stage.
At the very minimum, the salesperson should be asking some preliminary qualification questions to determine the prospect’s stage in their buying process. In a B2B situation, this involves validating any research that the buyer has done by asking early in the initial call what the buyer has established as requirements and any research they have done. Once those requirements are completed, a logical next step is to get a sense of the value the buyer perceives they will get from what your company has to offer.. If the buyer has not established this already, the sales person can offer a list of business goals that can be achieved through the use of her offering and gain credibility by helping the buyer realize that there are additional areas of potential savings or value that they had not considered. Once the business issue that the buyer has is identified, the sales person has earned the right to ask the buyer a more detailed line of questions. It would be acceptable to now ask what requirements or features the buyer believes will enable them to accomplish their stated goal(s). The salesperson and their company will gain tremendous credibility if they ask some intelligent questions to add capabilities to the requirements list. In some cases, they may also be able to have the buyer realize that some of their requirements do not belong on the list.
It is very important for salespeople to ask interest qualification questions to facilitate better alignment with today’s more educated buyers. Giving them a chance to express their preferences to-date rather than going directly into selling mode empowers buyers over where the call is headed and minimizes the chances that they will feel their time is being wasted or that the seller is trying to manipulate them. If buyers are unaware of their requirements, the salesperson can begin to develop their needs by treating the buyer more as a novice versus an expert. Buyers who have done research, developed requirements, and determined preferences are a reality. Companies that embrace and align with this change stand to reap the windfall of capturing the lion’s share of revenue from competitors that cling to old-school habits.
Want to learn more about lead conversion tactics check out this free guide:
HOW TO CONVERT INBOUND LEADS INTO SALES PERFORMANCE
This eBook suggests specific solutions tools and tactics to help you address the four key sales performance issues. Learn more about How to Convert Inbound Leads into Sales Performance.