Once you have used tried-and-tested marketing strategies to generate leads online, you need to take action to convert those leads into paying customers.
But how do you best do it?
From the point of view of your business’s bottom line, new contacts are only valuable if you can make them become paying customers or advocates of your brand, so it’s important to get this part of the marketing and sales process right.
Here are seven tips that can help you convert online leads into customers. (Infographic at the bottom of the post.)
#1 Act Quickly
Leads don’t like to be kept waiting.
If you delay reaching out to the contacts generated by your online marketing processes, they may lose interest or turn to a competitor instead.
Customer relationship management (CRM) software can help you keep track of your contacts, so their expressions of interest don’t end up forgotten in an overcrowded email inbox.
If you’d rather stick to using a simple email system to manage new subscribers collected through your website, try directing messages from these contacts into a priority inbox, rather than the general inbox so that they can be dealt with as quickly as possible, preferably within an hour.
#2 Convert Online Leads by Qualifying Them
Categorizing your leads into marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) and sales-qualified leads (SQLs) can help increase your conversion rate. Each of these groups is at a different stage in the sales cycle and therefore needs a different approach from your sales team.
An example of a MQL is someone who has downloaded a free white paper from your website to find out more about the solutions your company offers. This kind of person may respond well to an offer of more information but may be put off by pressurized sales tactics as they are still in the research stage of their buying journey.
50 percent of new leads are not yet ready to buy, so trying to close the sale is not always appropriate. Provide valuable information to the MQL that will subtly remind them of a need or a problem, which your product or service is the solution to.
On the other hand, SQLs may be people who have already been in contact with a sales rep and now want to schedule a meeting to explore their purchase options and negotiate prices.
These kinds of leads require immediate attention from your sales team, as they may be ready to close.
By qualifying prospects into MQLs and SQLs, you can help pinpoint their location in the sales funnel, which means you can reach out with information that is appropriate for them. This reduces the risk of putting off people at an early stage of their buying journey by launching into a hard-sell approach while avoiding annoying people who are already ready to buy with the information they already know.
#3 Structure Your Sales Team
Your sales team has two important jobs:
- Managing relationships with existing customers
- Converting new contacts
To make it easier for your sales team to balance these two requirements, you may find it helpful to create two sub-teams, one of which focuses on new customers while the other handles existing customer relationships.
Imposing this kind of structure on your sales team can improve response times for priority leads, as your salespeople don’t have to work out which group to focus on.
However, to maintain a more personal relationship with the customer, it's a good idea to have the same contact person through the entire customer lifecycle. When a contact changes from lead to customer, they might find it strange that their contact person in your company isn't the same, who had the initial contact.
Another way to go can be to divide your team according to industry so that each sales rep gets a specific industry, which is easy to monitor. This approach allows for the same contact person throughout the customer lifecycle. Furthermore, it makes the sales reps specialists within their focus area, which can both benefit the potential client as well as the sales rep.
The potential new client will get a sales rep, who knows their specific industry and the problems related to it. Consequently, the sales rep can prepare for questions associated with the challenges the client faces. And in the end, he or she can be more helpful in solving the problems or overcoming the challenges.
Hopefully, this will also benefit the sales rep in the forms of more sales.
#4 CONVERT ONLINE Leads BY FOLLOWInG UP
If you reach out to a new contact and they don’t respond, you shouldn’t necessarily give up. Send another email or try calling at another time; it could be that the person was merely busy when you first tried to get in touch.
You should also try to increase your connections with leads as much as possible. For example, during a sales call, you can ask the person whether you may add them to your mailing list, which will give you another way to keep in touch.
While applying too much pressure to buy is often not appropriate, following up with new contacts helps ensure that your brand sticks in their mind and could increase the chance that they will convert when they are ready.
#5 Turn focus around
No matter the position in a company, people are most likely to think about the product or service that their company offers.
But that's a big mistake.
You shouldn't try to sell a product or service.
Instead, turn focus around and think about which problems your product or service solves for the potential client.
What are their daily pains?
What would they like to achieve?
And how can you help them get what they want?
In other words "what's in it for them"?
So, instead of thinking about what you want to achieve, think about what the potential client wants to accomplish.
It's an entirely different way of traditional sales thinking, which can be challenging to switch to. But it will pay off in the end, as consumers are more and more looking for solutions instead of items.
This leads to the next point: listen.
#6 Listen And pay attention
Another important aspect when you want to turn your leads into paying customers is to listen.
I mean actually listen.
Instead of just rambling along with your sales pitch, then pay attention to what the prospect has to say.
Instead of focusing on your goals, then listen to what your contact says, and see if you can hear their real pains and problems, (which your product or service can solve).
Maybe the potential client is implying some underlying obstacle, which they can't find a solution to and don't speak directly about?
It's your job to educate the contact to become aware of the problem, which your service, solution or product solves.
#7 Use Data to Understand Your Conversion Process
Data can help you understand how well your processes for converting online leads are performing.
Use analytics software to create dashboards showing how many leads are entering your CRM system at each stage of the sales funnel and how many of them eventually convert to paying customers.
When data is presented clearly in a dashboard, you can easily see which parts of your sales funnel are leaking leads. This allows you to focus your attention on reaching out to those leads to make them more likely to convert.
Once you have developed a lead dashboard, you need to update and monitor it regularly to assess your progress. Make data an integral part of your regular sales meetings to give every member of the team an overview of the current situation and allow them to suggest ideas to convert leads from particular parts of the sales funnel.
Through efficient structuring of your sales team and careful use of data, you can improve your conversion rate for online leads. However, some of the most important things to remember are:
Turn focus around and away from product or service approach to a problem-solving approach. This means listening to the pains and obstacles of your leads.
Remember that your responses must be both rapid and appropriate for your lead’s position in the sales funnel to be successful.
Infographic to sum up: