For small and midsize businesses, it is critically important to take good care of every single sales lead that comes their way. What is more important, however, is to convert that lead into a happy customer who will want to come back again and again to provide recurring custom to your business.
So what prevents SMBs from using their sales leads to generate repeat custom? The answer to this question lies in their ability (or inability) to make the most of sales leads. Sales lead management, though not really a rocket science, creates the maximum difficulties for most SMBs.
Research on the topic shows that almost half of all sales leads are not followed up or there are certain common issues with the follow-up that lead to losing the opportunity altogether. If an SMB were to forge effective follow-up practices, there should be no limit to the extent to which it might grow and enhance its business manifold.
In the age and time of the most efficacious customer communications equipment, such a dilemma should appear very queer indeed. Answering sales leads effectively should be a no-brainer in most organizations of any standing at all. So what might be done to ensure that your SMB is the first one to provide answers to potentials queries (the sales leads) regarding your product?
The simplest rule would be that the SMB with the best answers would win the prospect over. Here are a few more rules of the thumb that every SMB might profitably follow:
- Thorough Follow-Up: As noted previously, almost half of all sales leads are left to the winds, without any follow-up whatsoever. Therefore, the first step you should be taking for your own business is ensure that every single lead is duly followed up. Every sales lead should be promptly entered into your CRM on a daily basis. You need a system in place to ensure that that happens without fail and that all leads are being followed up.
- Snappy Follow-Up: How much time should it take your sales personnel to follow up with a lead? Far less than that taken by your nearest competitor? Not good enough. Companies that respond within an hour of receiving a lead have a far better chance to make meaningful conversation with a prospect than those that take only about an hour. Depending on the kinds of queries you receive and the product you sell, you should aim to follow up as soon as a query has been generated.
- Useful Answers: There’s absolutely no point in taking the prospect’s time and not offering any useful information, even if you are the first one to talk. Provide full answers by allowing the most knowledgeable sales personnel handle sales leads. Be the first one to respond as well, since that significantly increases your chance to build trust and credibility and win the customer over.
- Informed Improvement: Your sales follow-up process should undergo ongoing improvement. For that purpose, you need to measure your progress. You can measure the following, for starters:
- The number of sales leads received each week
- The time taken to respond to each sales lead
- The percentage of sales leads converted into quality prospects
- The percentage of sales leads converted into actual customers
From this partial list, you can see what kind of scope exists to improve upon your engagement with your sales leads. Effectively following up on sales leads is arguably the best ROI on whatever you spend on lead generation.
You should be able to already tell what’s wrong with your sales lead management processes. Work on your sales leads and watch your sales grow.