As a small-business owner, a major part of your day-to-day activities should focus around generating leads and converting those leads to clients. Your lead conversion ratio is the number of clients you have divided by the total number of leads you receive. So if you convert 2 clients from 10 leads, your lead conversion percentage is 20%. Here are seven steps to improving your lead conversion ratio to grow your business.
Step #1: Build A Contact Database
How do you currently keep track of your leads? If you are just starting out, you can use Microsoft Excel or Access to manage your leads. If you have been in business longer, consider buying software like Act! or another customer relationship management (CRM) system. In your database, keep track of every contact you have with your lead and schedule a follow up date or next action to take so each day, you can print out a to-do list of all contacts you need to follow up with. Your contact database should be your primary resource for storing obvious information like contact details as well as what you discussed in meetings, potential work opportunities, and next steps.
Step #2: Qualify Leads
For each contact in your database, evaluate how qualified each lead is. Where are they in their sales cycle and how likely are they to hire you in the near future?
- What are their main concerns, problems and frustrations?
- Do you have the right products and services to help them?
- How can you get to know them better? (For instance, visiting their website, monitoring their blog, talking with key individuals in the company?)
- Is this a company you want to do business with?
- Is this a one-time job or are there long-term project opportunities?
- Is this contact the decision maker? If not, who is?
Your time is better spent focusing on qualified leads who want your services, can pay for them, and have expressed a desire to move their project forward in the near future.
Step #3: Build Credibility and Trust
How can you position your business so prospects see you as a good choice for their project work? Can you provide case studies, articles and white papers? Do you have a solid reputation within the industry? Have you worked with similar companies? Has the press covered your business?
Step #4: Be Persistent
You don’t want to annoy prospects but you do need to follow up regularly if you want to win their business. Ask them if they want to join your newsletter or invite them to speaking engagements or events you will be participating in. Keep track of any press releases and company announcements they put out and send them a quick “congratulations” message. It can take upwards of 7-10 contacts and several months before they are ready to hire you, so don’t give up. Follow up.
Step #5: Get The Meeting
Whether you conduct your sales meeting face-to-face or by phone, eventually you will have to talk to your prospect one-on-one. Be prepared. The best sales technique you can use is to listen 90-percent of the time and ask clarification questions. Let prospects tell you what they want. Your meeting should be more like a “consulting session” than a “sales pitch.”
Step #6: Create Your Working Agreement
Hopefully during the meeting, you got a verbal agreement to work together. If so, send a copy of your working agreement over within one business day.
Step #7: Follow Up
If your meeting didn’t lead to a working agreement, don’t stop. Keep following up with helpful articles and information based on ideas you generated from your meeting.
The key to turning leads into clients is to have open conversations with prospects, figure out what they want most, and offer a way to give them what they want. Don’t go into meetings with an agenda. Listen to what prospects say, and modify your products and services to fit their wants and needs.