So, before we start to talk about leads let’s check out where these leads come from. Leads generally come through some kind of sales funnel.
And what is a Sales Funnel you might ask.
So, what are Sales Funnels and why do I care?
A Sales Funnel, basically, is a well thought out strategy to convert a cold lead into a warm customer. That’s exactly what a Sales or Marketing Funnel is.
We are going to get into complicated terminology and scientific explanations later. For now, a Sales Funnel, in simple layman’s words, does 2 things
- It gets you new leads (these are called cold leads since these people are totally new and probably don’t know anything about you as yet (unless of course you already are famous or a celebrity, and I’m presuming that if you’re here reading this then you are not. Yet. ?)
- It nurtures those cold leads until they become warm customers.
Of course, the story does not, or rather should not, end there. You must keep nurturing your customers to give them continuous value, otherwise they will disappear faster than they came, but that is a post for another day.
Today we are going to talk about how to convert leads into customers.
All of you must have come across the word “leads” but what exactly are leads?
Leads are the initial phase of the sales process, or the sales funnel as the lingo goes.
A Lead is the name of a person which might be on one of the company’s purchased lists or he/she might be on a list of people who attended your webinar or your exhibition etc.
Types of Leads
All leads are not the same. There are many different kinds of leads.
Does it matter? Should we care? Should a salesperson ignore certain types of leads to focus on other types of leads? Are some more valuable than others? Who knows? Let’s check out all these types, shall we
These are people who you don’t know and are not sure if you would be interested in them as potential customers or clients. They are interested in your company, but you have little or no data on them. They might have downloaded something, but you have no way to know if they’re a potential opportunity or not.
A prospect is a suspect for who you have enough demographic or psychographic information for you to be know that this person can be a potential opportunity for your company. Basically, a suspect graduates to a prospect because we know enough about them to consider them an opportunity to explore.
A lead is any person who has connected with your company in any way. They’ve identified themselves to you and expressed a certain level of interest in what you have to offer.
A person who gives you their business card at a trade show because you’re offering them a chance to win a lucky draw is NOT a lead. However, a person who gives you their business card at a seminar because you are giving them some educational material in exchange for that contact info, becomes a lead.
A HOT lead generally meets all the criteria laid down that a customer would satisfy. So how do you know if someone’s a hot lead?
One would apply the BANT lead qualifying system.
B – Budget : The prospect has a ready budget and waiting to go once approved by the management.
A – Authority : The contact person is the final authority to approve or reject the proposal.
N – Need : You are the only one fulfilling a burning a need of the prospect and it is an established fact.
T – Time : It is time for purchase or implementation of the new product or service.
This qualified lead misses 1 or 2 criteria. But what makes it bag the qualifying scale is that a need was identified and the other 1 or 2 qualified criteria should be able to support the first. In most cases, the dis-qualifiers would either be Budget or Time frame.
But don’t get easily discouraged, these leads are not wasted. They could still be nurtured, and you might be surprised that in due time they’ll be contacting you again.
A qualified cold lead has 2 or 3 dis-qualifiers and the remaining qualifier would be supported by the prospects agreement to look or compare set ups between their current system and yours. This is the kind of lead which most of the time needs further nurturing. Business success takes time, effort, tools, skills and strategies to reach your target results.
Information Qualified Lead (IQL)
When a lead first converts, they often provide their contact information in return for some type of useful information, also known as a top-of-the-funnel offer. It could be an e-Book, Tips & Tricks, Whitepaper or Cheat Sheet.
The buyer is usually just beginning to research the solution to a problem. At this stage, the lead is an Information Qualified Lead.
Many IQLs will take the initial information they need but do not move on to the next stage. You can certainly keep in touch with them with email newsletters and new content offers, but based on their actions, you can decide whether the IQL is a warm or a cold lead and set a priority for sales follow-up.
Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL)
This is simply a fancier way to describe a lead. It’s called marketing qualified because the marketing triggered them to become a lead. They attended a webinar, downloaded an e-book, subscribed to your blog or watched one of your videos. One of these marketing activities got them to take action, making them a marketing-qualified lead.
Let’s say that IQL becomes interested in how you might be able to solve the problem for which they have been researching a solution. They then decide to download the information about your company’s product or service. Well, the lead has become warm. You now have a Marketing Qualified Lead.
Sales Qualified Leads (SQL)
If the MQL shows interest and moves to the decision stage, you now have a Sales Qualified Lead.
If a lead is sales qualified, a salesperson has had an initial conversation with this person who has identified that this is a real opportunity with future potential. This potential would consider them qualified.
Sales Ready/Accepted Leads (SRL)
Any bottom of the funnel leads or any people who request to speak with you or your representative is considered a sales-qualified lead.
This means the prospect has requested a conversation with a person who can help them continue their buyer journey.
Member Service Request Leads (MSR)
The MSR are consumer generated leads that come from new members just joining the subscription service.
The company would give their consumers the opportunity to begin working with an agent in their area from the very start.
Although these leads may contain less information than others, they are a great opportunity to begin working with a new client in your area.
Other types of leads
Seeds are the leads created from grassroots, i.e, organic approach. Basically, word of mouth, SEO, press, social media and local user groups spread the gospel about your product and company.
Nets are leads created from the classic marketing programs, i.e, trade shows, PPC, advertising, email marketing etc.
Spears are leads created from pin-point outbound efforts. In fact, sales-sourced leads are a very powerful way to build business.
Buyer leads are consumer generated leads that come from buyers that either live in or are interested in your exclusive territory area. Here, all the information is generated by the consumer.
Seller leads are consumer generated leads that come from sellers who are interested in selling a home in your exclusive territory area. Here, all the information is generated by the consumer as well.
Offline Leads are generated by the sales executive physically, not from any source of the internet.
Online Leads are generated by the website or any other internet-based source through the ‘contact us’ forms, social media, sign-ups etc.
I hope the next time you have a conversation that contain certain words for different leads, you would be able to differentiate and do the needful accordingly.
How to Convert Your Leads into Customers
The majority of your leads won’t automatically convert into sales by simply being sent through your conversion funnel. It will often require additional help to produce the conversion. Here are some general tips to help your business convert more leads into sales.
Offer an incentive
Name one person that doesn’t like free stuff. Offering a free gift or providing a special time sensitive discount is a great way to push leads to convert. The discount doesn’t have to be something outrageous and the free gift doesn’t have to have a high monetary value. The average consumer simply can’t pass up a free offer or a limited-time discount.
Ask for the sale
How is asking for the sale groundbreaking marketing advice? It’s not — it’s actually common sense, but something that many businesses just don’t do. Ask your leads if they are ready to purchase and watch how many reply “yes.” They became a lead because they were interested in what your business offers. Food for thought: if your business doesn’t ask for the sale your competitor will.
The ROI carrot
If your product or service has the potential to increase your lead’s return on investment, then make sure you remind them. This is asking them, “So, when are you ready to increase your revenue?” Reminding them that you are offering a solution that will help them make more money will often push them to convert.
You can create a great FAQ page on your website.
Many leads won’t convert because they have questions that they need answered before they pull the trigger. Answer common questions that your leads might have and make it prominent on your website. Talk to your sales team and customer service reps to put together a list of common frequently asked questions.
Set a time limit
Establish a “no communication” deadline to remove unresponsive leads from your marketing funnel. Example: “We have not heard from you in 30 days. Even though this will be our final communication, please feel free to reach out to us in the future if you have any questions.” This will often cause a reaction — and if it doesn’t then it prevents your sales team from wasting valuable time and energy on a dead lead.
A quick follow-up email or phone call asking your leads if they have any additional questions will often get them back into purchase mode. This is an effective way of quickly converting leads into sales before a lot of time passes. My company immediately contacts all of the leads that are generated through our website and then we also follow-up with them a few days later, offering to answer any questions that they might have. The simple follow-up will close a large percentage of leads for virtually every industry.
Create emails that will stand out
There is a good chance that your leads are being marketed to by competitors as well, so you need to make sure that your emails stand out from the overly promotional emails that are likely to be flooding their inboxes. Include things like fun facts about your company or your local area — and make sure that your emails don’t read like overly aggressive and pushy sales letters. Clever emails really grab the attention of your leads and make your company stand out.
Ask questions to your Leads
If you ask your leads a question they will often reply. Something such as, “It has been over a week since we have heard from you. Have you had a chance to go over the materials and make a decision?” is a great way to apply the pressure while also opening up the dialogue to discover additional questions or concerns the lead might have.
Empower your Sales Reps to Convert Leads to Customers
Make sure sales people are properly trained before they reach out to prospects. Sales reps can follow up on leads successfully only when they are properly trained to do so. For example, if leads are passed on based on webinar attendance, reps must be aware of what the webinar content was, what was being sold,, what offers were given during the webinar, and what qualifying questions would be relevant to be fully prepared for follow up with an attendee. If reps don’t have this kind of background or foundation, they will not be able to answer correctly and leads will go to waste.
Give sales reps the tools and information they need to track and manage leads. You need to equip your sales and support teams with as much information about the lead as possible: what site they came from, what content they have already consumed, how much, if any, prior exposure they’ve had with the product or service etc. The best way to do this, is to have a sales automation technology solution, that the sales team is comfortable using.
Quick follow up
Have sales reps follow up quickly with prospective customers – and pick up a phone, write an email, offer a bonus. Fast response times can increase the odds of winning the client. And if you are unable to connect with the lead the first time you try, don’t give up. Leave a message (if you called) and follow up again in a day or two, via email and phone. And keep trying until you get a response. Just make sure not to overdo it – e.g., call or email more than once a day – as that can turn off prospects.
Solve rather than Sell
Have sales reps avoid the hard sell and instead focus on solving problems. Train them not to launch off into a sales pitch about your product, because the customer has already expressed interest. Instead listen to what they have to say and you will find that many of your qualifying questions will be answered when the customer tells you exactly what he or she wants to buy. Then just sell them what they really need, not what you want to sell.
One of the most annoying things for any purchaser are the upsells. Keep these to a minimum. If you have an additional product or solution that the prospect didn’t ask for, or knows about, but that would help her solve her problem, by all means mention it. Just be prepared to back off – and focus on winning the initial sale – if the customer says she’s not interested, or not interested right now. If you make the customer feel comfortable working with you, she will likely continue to buy from you/your company.
How can you Convert Leads into Sales Using Email Newsletters? Your business cannot grow unless you accomplish two things
- Retain the customers you already have and
- Acquire new customers continuously
You can see how important Sales and marketing are by the fact that Amazon sells 85,000+ books on “The best way to convert leads into sales”.
The very essence of any marketing activity is to generate leads. The first step anyone does to grow their business is to collect contacts of prospective clients. Finding leads would be the primary focus of any website, especially those that are designed for a service industry.
Website marketing focuses on getting people to find your site where they commit in a way that establishes a tenuous relationship. Normally, the goal here is to collect a name and an email address. Once you have those, then you can ‘go to them’ with emails instead of coaxing them to you.
One of the easiest ways to get a prospective client’s email address is to offer them something for it. This offer is called an ‘ethical bribe’ or ‘lead magnet.’
Looks familiar? You bet – you must have seen this very often!!
In this case, the visitor is being ‘ethically bribed’ by a free case study, not only on how to get #1 Rankings in 48 hours but also make money in the process. This page collects their email address so that they can send them the offer. Not only does this allow them to obtain contact information, but it also validates the lead.
A person downloading this case study is already interested in this website’s products. They are a much better prospect than some random visitor that might have accidentally clicked on the site.
However, it is essential that the lead magnet you are offering resonates with your landing page website product. [Request for this post pdf with “50 Lead Magnet Ideas”]
If, for example, you get this offer on a website selling WordPress plugins, would you get anyone interested in clicking a button that says “Show me the Super Foods”??
Convert Leads into Sales
Collecting email addresses is only the first step in the process used to convert leads into sales. After you have a viable prospect, then you need to pursue it. A very effective way to reach your leads and begin the conversion process is with email newsletters.
In a survey conducted by Marketing Sherpa who commissioned an online survey that was fielded August 20-24, 2015 with a nationally representative sample of U.S. consumers, emails ranked NUMBER ONE on a list of marketing activities small businesses found most effective. For permission-based promotional messaging and updates, 60% of people surveyed prefer an email above any other source.
Source : Marketing Sherpa
Email is a digital marketing medium where people expect to receive your promotional messaging. Having those eyes on your campaigns and updates in a format people prefer, your marketing efforts are bound to perform better.
Using Email Newsletters
Once you’ve built your database of leads, then you need to work on converting those leads into sales. Closing the deal only happens with persistent and consistent efforts. One way to do that is to keep them informed. Here are some obvious things you might wish to communicate:
- New Products
- Industry News
- Special Offers
Another way to reach them is a bit more subtle. Educate your prospects. For instance, if you sell WordPress plugins, tell them about the latest plugins in the market, which ones are absolutely necessary to install. Explain how security plugins can help keep their websites secure from hackers, and THEN throw in a blurb about how YOUR new plugin will do a lot more and explain the features and benefits.
You can educate your leads through weekly or monthly blog posts. Find topics relevant to your service or product and write about them. Make sure the information is factual, in-depth, and of value. You are not ‘selling’ your product in a blog, instead, you tout its value in a roundabout and not so obvious way.
Blog posts do a lot of things. They inform, establish credibility, and provide a vehicle for special offers. As an extra added bonus, blog content helps you rank on Google.
The trick to using your blog to convert leads into sales is using the proper marketing process.
Write a new Blog Post every week that is educational and includes valuable content.
Link to it in an email newsletter using a good program like MailChimp or Aweber or GetResponse or any other autoresponder.
Include a strong hook or Call to Action in both the Blog Post and the newsletter.
Use your Call to Action to either offer a compelling offer or to invite them to take the next step in the Sales Process.
Call to Action
The Call to Action needs careful consideration. First, you want to identify the stages in your buyer’s journey. How long before you can close the sale. How many affirmations? When a prospect gives you their email address that was the first ‘affirmation.’ If they took the time to open your email, that was a second one. Did they read the blog? Yes? Good, that was a third.
Every time you get their ‘affirmation’ you’re a little closer. You’re building Trust. You’re getting that much closer to the sale. To convert leads into sales, you need that last hook, an offer that’s going to be just too good to resist.
- Look for a clear benefit that can be derived
- Give an irresistible offer
- Show proof of how others have benefited from it
- Show scarcity – this works wonderfully all the time
For instance, offer a Free case study, webinar replay or anything else and say the offer is open only till 5 pm EST, or offer a huge bonus pack with a directive that it will be available ONLY to the 1st 25 customers who buy.
Converting leads into sales is not a sneaky business. It’s education. You need to tell your client what you offer and why it is the best option. Using lead magnets to gather emails and then send newsletters as one one of the best ways to inform potential clients about your business
How does one calculate the conversion rate?
For example, you sent 1000 visitors to your landing page and got 10 buyers, your conversion rate would be 10/1000 x 100% = 1%.
What about tracking conversion?
It’s simple, you just need to place a tracking pixel into the page where the conversion is triggered.
If you’re using Facebook Ads or Google AdWords or Ad Network to drive traffic, they have in-house tracking pixel to track your sales conversion.
But if you’re using other traffic sources like email ads, forum traffic, classified ads, blog traffic, and etc, there are many tracking tools like ClickMagick, ClickMeter, LinkTrack, Clickperfect etc. These are powerful tracking tools to cater all your needs.
You can only optimize your campaign after you know your conversion rate. Otherwise, you could be going in the wrong direction without knowing it.
Traffic vs Conversion Rate
The conversion rate formula is “Traffic x Conversion rate = Goal” Goal is your campaign aim, it could be sales, leads, and etc.
Conversion rate is how well your marketing can turn the traffic into the goal.
Traffic is your website visitors. Based on the formula, your goal is determined by 2 elements which are traffic and conversion.
So, why does one need to improve the conversion rate? Can’t we just increase the traffic to reach our goal?”
Well, the main problem is that traffic is both expensive and time-consuming. That’s the reason why conversion rate is so important and worth your attention.
50 Lead Magnet Ideas
If you want to know how to Improve Your Conversion rate, request a pdf version of this post on my Support Desk. The pdf also has a special Bonus of 50 Lead Magnet Ideas that you can use to create your next Lead Magnet
23rd June 2019 Update
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