By Colin Walker
As a business owner, you invest time, energy and often salaries into building your pipeline of prospects. So when you’ve done those hard yards, you can’t risk letting a single one slip through the cracks. Instead, you must do everything in your power to convert them to ‘customer’ status before their interest wanes or a competitor shifts their focus.
So what’s the best way to do that?
Following on from my previous article about attracting new leads into your pipeline, I’ve brought together our Business Development and Client Account Managers to brainstorm our best tips and advice on how to convert new leads.
- Adopt a sales process
While there’s no single model that holds the key to sales conversion success, what’s most important is to actually have a sales process. And it doesn’t have to be set in stone. It could just be a loose guide you follow—something that’s adaptable and can grow with you and your business.
To design your sales process, you firstly need to break down how a sale works:
- Attract leads—record the lead source so you know where to target your marketing efforts
- Qualify them—ask questions, but also listen to the answers to tailor the next steps to meet their needs
- Present your offer—it’s important to keep your pricing simple and easy to understand at the presentation level
- Reach an agreement—this process should be made as simple as possible so it doesn’t feel like they’re signing over the naming rights of their first-born child!
- Close it—was the client won or lost?
- Start the relationship—I believe this is the key to the next piece of the puzzle where you aim to increase retention (more on that next time).
Flesh out what you or your salespeople must do at each of these stages and you have the very beginnings of a sales process for your business.
- Overcome objections
Write down a list of objections you’re already aware of—things that stand between you and the sale. What kinds of things are prospects telling you are the barriers to signing up? Budget, time, service levels? Once you have your list together, brainstorm the counter arguments. Can you offer realistic solutions to counter their objections?
- Role play
Write your pitch down exactly how you’d like to present it. If you’ve thought through your ideas, articulated them on paper using great language and you’ve read it through a number of times, it will soak into your brain. And like every great athlete…practice makes perfect! Practise your pitch in front of the mirror, with your partner and in the car. Run through your counter arguments so you’re natural and relaxed when they come up.
- What you can measure you can manage
Set your benchmarks and be diligent about recording your activity versus your outcome. Data will help drive any changes required in the sales process. It will also identify areas of training required for new sales staff once you have a working process.
- Incentivise the sales team
Reward great work and keep your team motivated. Again, keep the incentive program as simple and as straight forward as possible. And remember—never be afraid of paying incentives because it means you’re making sales!
- Consider a sales coach
Inevitably, someone’s already done what you’re trying to do—so don’t be afraid to learn from them. It will reduce the trial and error process and will fast track the results you’re looking for.
- Recruit the right people
The right staff can make or break a business, and as leadership guru Jim Collins has said, find the right people you want on your bus and then find the right seat for them. You don’t want a sales person who’d do and say anything to get the deal done, so make sure you recruit people with the values you want to be known for in the community as these people will be the face of your business.