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Converting Leads into Customers
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One of the biggest tragedies I see in business is watching a business owner spend significant time and effort generating leads for their business, but then not acting on them in a logical, methodical, repeatable way to convert those leads into paying customers.

You haven't done that in your business have you? But I'll bet you know someone (better to keep them nameless) who has a stack of business cards on their desk that they have collected through their networking activities but they have not been added to their customer database, no follow up has taken place, and they are essentially growing colder by the day. If that is you, no need to raise your hand. But it is time to get out of the trap and start turning those leads into paying customers - wouldn't you agree?

To make improvements in this area, you simply have to start doing one thing - MEASURE your current conversion success rate! Most business owners have no clue what their conversion rate is. By simply measuring where you are, you will improve. It happens every time. Once you start measuring, you realize what you should be doing that you are not, and your results begin to improve.

Add to that a specific, focused approach to handling your leads and your conversion rate will go through the roof! And, the best part is, you can grow your business without spending one more dollar! You've already invested marketing dollars to generate the leads. Now, make the most of that investment by defining your specific, repeatable sales steps that will convert your leads into customers.

To get started, take a few minutes and write down the specific steps that you take each and every lead through to get them familiar with you and your business. Each business has a different set of steps in their selling process. Some have just a few steps - most often where the average ticket price for a transaction is relatively small. Others have many steps - most often where the average ticket price is relatively large. You must decide how familiar a new prospect needs to be with you and your business in order to pull out their wallet and make a purchase. If it is a complicated product or service, you will likely need more steps in your selling process.

Once you have your current process steps written down, ask yourself, is everyone in my business doing it the same way? If not, why not? How can you have a "best in class" approach if you allow each individual to "roll their own"? How can you test and measure new approaches if you don't first start with a standard? How can you improve and predict your outcome if there are multiple approaches? The answer to all of these questions is you cannot!

I often hear business owners say they would lose their best sales person if they made them follow a standard sales process. Let me ask you - whose business it? Yours or your sales person's? Who has all the risk in the deal? Who is setting the expectations and limitations? My hope is that it is you - the business owner. Don't let the personal preferences of others dictate how you will run your business - unless you like working for them!

Establish your specific selling process steps, train your team to follow the selling process, support it with the necessary materials, and measure the results of each specific step. Make changes to your sales process based on the results of your measurements. Test and Measure. Test and Measure. Again and again. Make incremental improvements and hold yourself and your team accountable for the results. This is the recipe for success.

One last thought. As you build your step by step sales process, be mindful of the thought that in every sales process there is a point where your prospect will do some specific physical something to indicate they are ready to buy. If you can identify that "physical something" for your business, then point all of your efforts to make that happen, your conversion rate will improve.
Stay focused. Stay determined. Be determined. Build a repeatable process for converting leads into customers. Your business success will become a certainty.
 

Added: 14th September 2010

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