Effective lead generation is one of the biggest problems for most small businesses. Not because the leads are hard to come by, but because leads often turn into dead-endsÖ or so it seems.
Are your leads actually dead or are they only dormant? A successful lead generation program means getting the business on the other end. When the lead does not turn into a sale, it doesnít matter what kind of lead generation program you buy into or how you use it, it isnít successful. Up to 85% of marketing expenditures are to develop leads that are never fully developed and therefore, are wasted.
The secret to effective and successful lead generation (and closing the business) in a business to consumer environment is not simply making the phone call or even the appointment. It is in placing the lead in the process. Successful lead generation means moving the lead through the steps that it takes to close the business. You in fact nurture the lead.
Nurturing the lead into a successful sale is more than just making a ďchecking-inĒ phone call. Itís about becoming useful and having consistent and worthwhile conversation with the prospect client. Sure, you can get the cream clients with the first phone call. These are typically people who are desperate or mad at or ignored by your competition.
Where you turn those with non-immediate needs into clients is to be there when they do need you. You become the familiar presence that is seen as being interested in working, not in just collecting the check. This isnít accomplished by having a salesperson call up and ask if they are ready to sign a contract yet.
Selling your company, not just the service
Itís true Ė how you sell is how you service. At least that is the customer perception. Do you follow through with the sale or do you just dump materials and wait for the client to react? If thatís the case, then the client is likely to consider your service to be about the same. A trusted advisor who understands the needs of the buyer is 70% more likely to come away with the sale when all is said and done.
Selling the service, not the sales contract
Effective sales means imparting certain knowledge, understandings, and beliefs:
Developing customer trust
Taking a lead and developing it into a sale is more than just a presentation. This is particularly true in areas of personal service such as home care and home healthcare. Adult children are trusting you to take care of their parents when they are not around. You must be the trusted advisor and it is hard to make this happen on the first appointment.
Business owner Kim Winger says sheís been told by clients that if she told her client to turn around 3 times every night before going to bed, they knew there would be a very sound reason for it. Kim has the trust of her clients. When you have trust, you become the expert and you are the first person to call when there is a need.
Nothing builds client trust like communication. Take the time and talk to people, not potential clients. Aside from the basics in life, people want to be liked, appreciated, and respected more than anything else. Little things that are not expected as a part of the service show this.
Long term marketing = large profits
It may surprise you, but even in consumer sales, most salespeople ignore long-term leads, but they still amount to more than 70% of all sales. This is true in consumer services markets as well. There are those who shop for needs because a parent has fallen and needs help. But many adult children start toying with the idea of bringing in help staff a full 4-6 months before they actually contract for it. Perhaps mom had a bad day or schedules just got crazy for a few days and then settled down. Yet 6 months later and completely worn out, they make the decision to obtain the services. Will your company still be there? Will they remember that they talked with you? Or will they confuse you with all the rest or feel uncomfortable calling you when they turned you down the first time around?
Salespeople are notoriously impatient. They make their pitch and if they donít get the sale, they move on. Salespeople typically look for short-term gain while customers look for long-term plans. If sales leads are passed on to salespeople without an adequate sales management system in place, it is highly probable that you are leaving 60-70% of your prospects out there for the competition to get later.
Understanding the customer
Customers of every industry have a buying cycle. Some cut it short because of immediate need. But the rest move through this cycle over time. What does the customer think about when choosing a service company?
When you take care of your leads and nurture them over time, it becomes possible for you to answer these questions in your favor. When people become familiar with you, they are aware of your consistency and they develop trust. You didnít shove it down their throat in the first sales presentation. You built it over time.
Taking care of your leads means staying in contact and providing information over time. Balancing this out without being a pain can however, be a challenge. People will get tired of you constantly calling. However, consider asking prospects if they will allow you to put them on your mailing or email newsletter list. Explain that it is not sales related, but does contain much information. Most will agree.
What to include in such a newsletter does not include a bunch of information about your company. You do want people to read it. Instead, include articles, case studies, white papers, local events related to the customer, notices of conferences, invitations to speaking engagements or workshops or anything else that you can think of that would be of interest. SeniorMag allows you to copy articles and include them in your newsletter when you attribute the article.
Lead generation results
By all means, measure what you do in your lead generation program and how it works. When you find something new, give it a try and go with it long enough to make a difference. A few months of any lead marketing program is a waste of your time and resources. Most customers are not gained through short-term exposure. They are brought in over time and in time, they will also refer you back out to people they know.