Many of those running a business believe that once an ad is live, everyone thereafter will convert into a sale. There is a perception that online leads are magically different from leads you get anywhere else. As a result, they skip the follow-up and lead nurturing process.
Unfortunately, the sales process still takes time no matter where it starts. How you approach your online lead can determine how likely they are to convert to a sale. If you work for a service business, take a look at the five steps you need to take once a lead comes in.
- Adjust your expectations. It is rare to go from being a lead to a new client overnight. Let your objective in the first point of communication be to build a relationship and trust. Building rapport, uncovering needs, articulating value, and gaining commitment take time. Remember that you are trying to build for a lifelong client, not a one-time sale. Laying a strong foundation takes time, but it creates a platform on which it is much easier to build something that will last.
- Bring real value. In the first email, call, or meeting with the lead, what can you offer of value to the prospect? We often think value is only in our service or product, but we don’t realize the power of bringing something to the table before the sale. This can be as simple as providing specific insight into your unique solutions such as how you can grow their business or laying out your sales process so there are no surprises. Before you get in contact with the lead, you need to be able to answer the question, “How is this going to be worthwhile for the potential client?”
- Establish a connection and discover the real need. The most important thing to remember is that the client needs to be heard. Spend time listening to their needs and creating a real connection. Next, ask specific questions to help them articulate the need even if they don’t know what the real need is yet. If you have not laid the proper foundation and connection, it is unlikely that they will be willing to open up to you when you ask these questions.
- Confirm the next steps. Before you leave that initial meeting, always establish the next step. Clearly articulate what you believe should happen next. Is it another meeting, sending additional information, or a recap email expressing what was discussed? Make sure you have a next step in place as well as a clear expectation of when and how you will follow up with them.
- Follow-up. We need to remember that any sales process takes time. It is important to plan how you will stay top of mind with them after the initial meeting. Provide articles related to their industry or situation, send direct mail pieces, stay in touch, and remember things from the first meeting where you made a connection. It is important to recall the prospects’ specific needs during the follow-up process.
It costs you resources to bring in leads. So why would you leave them unnurtured and let them fall away? No matter where the lead was created, it is time to remember we are in this for the long haul!