“We need more leads!”
As a marketing consultant – this is hands-down the most frequent request I hear in the field. You may be thinking, “DUH! You’re the marketing pro – what else would your clients want from you??” Well, you’re right about one thing – it’s what all clients say they want from marketing efforts. The biggest challenge in marketing is not necessarily getting the phone to ring, or getting qualified hand-raisers to fork over their contact information so you can reach out to them. The biggest challenge I face is one that clients often don’t want to acknowledge. Many times they have leads. Lots and lots of leads. What they are doing with those leads isn’t necessarily always clear.
Wouldn’t we all like to open our doors to a rush of consumers with fists full of cash, begging for whatever we have to offer? Of course! But the majority of sales don’t happen like that in the real world. We get a call – someone is ‘just looking at the moment.’ They are feeling out your company, your product, your service. They are determining whether they actually need the product, if the price point is right, if your company is responsive and helpful – or distant and indifferent.
According to the National Sales Executive Association, only 2% of sales are made at the first point of contact. 3% happen on at the second, 5% at the fourth and 10% at the fourth. A whopping 80% of sales are made after the 5th point of contact with your prospects. Not only does that mean that follow-up is key, it also means that every time your prospects come in contact with your company – it should be pleasant, consistent, and memorable. Here area couple of areas that can make or break your business:
Front of the House
- Answer the phone in a professional and friendly manner. Identify your business, yourself, and use a brief greeting, “Candeo Agency, this is Angela, how may I help you?” is much more effective than “Hello?” or “Candeo Agency.” The telephone is typically the first impression a person gets of your business – make it count!
- Smile. Tell your staff to smile. All the time. Even when they are on the telephone – you can hear a smile through the phone! There is absolutely no reason a prospect or customer should ever feel like they are an inconvenience (even if they are!)
- Train your staff to greet customers consistently, when a customer says ‘Thank you,’ respond with ‘My pleasure,’ or ‘You’re welcome,’ rather than ‘No problem,’ or ‘Mmm hmm.’
- Clean, comfortable and in good repair. This applies to the lobby, reception area, meeting rooms, and bathrooms. Any area that is visible to customers and prospects should be clean and inviting. This is your second chance to make a first impression – this is the visual people will recall when they think of your business.
Back of the House
- If a customer is expecting a returned call, RETURN THE CALL. On time. You would be surprised how often this isn’t happening.
- Be on time for appointments or meetings – show that their time is valuable to you.
- Prepare in advance when meeting with your clients – if you’ve done your research and made an effort beforehand – it will show, and they will appreciate it.
- Set up standard operating procedures – and stick to them. You can avoid unreasonable expectations if customers are aware that there is a consistent process every time they work with you.
- No excuses! If you make a mistake – or if someone in your organization falls short – take responsibility for it and apologize, don’t pass the buck. This goes a heck of a lot further than an excuse with an unhappy customer.
- Collect data. You’re spending good money on marketing – find out what it costs to get a new customer. Ask how they heard about your company. Track the source of the leads. Didn’t get the business? Ask why – and track it!
I recently sat down with a client to evaluate the effectiveness of our efforts. Naturally, his main marketing objective was to get ‘more leads!’ Well, it turns out that they had been getting more leads – they had doubled the number of leads they were receiving each quarter – and the number was climbing on a monthly basis. The marketing campaigns were working! There was only one problem – revenue wasn’t increasing at the same rate. What we learned was that the company had been tracking lead sources, but not the results. If the deal wasn’t closed – it simply stayed open. Indefinitely. Unfortunately because of that we had no way to determine whether it was the marketing methods, the sales rep, the products, customer service, the physical location, or the staff. Any one of these ingredients can affect your closing ratios, but unless you collect and analyze the data, you’re just taking shots in the dark.
There’s more to marketing than lead generation. It’s about establishing your brand – defining who you are as an organization – and then consistently being that to every person who picks up the phone or walks through your door. It’s about setting reasonable expectations with your customers, and then meeting them again and again. It’s about creating a memorable customer experience – one that they will tell their friends and families about. A good marketing campaign can only lead the horses to water – it can’t make them drink.