Make the Most of Sales Leads
How to convert qualified prospects into good customers.
By Keith Giles
A wise man once observed, "Nothing happens until something is sold." If you hope to grow your small business you'll have to learn how to make that happen more often. How? By understanding your sales process and learning how to successfully approach prospects and close sales.
Your Sales Process
From the first moment you come into contact with your prospective customer, you should already know what steps to take next and how best to lead the conversation into an eventual purchase. This is your sales process, and while many small-business owners leave things up to their sales staff, it's wise to put more thought into defining, reinforcing and improving it for more consistent results.
To be effective, a sales process should outline specific steps that prospective customers need to take to move toward a sale. It's crucial to know when and how your sales representatives should engage with prospects. Spell out how sales literature will be provided. Create clear guidelines about the length of time your prospects need at each process phase. Equip your sales team with practical steps that can be taken to overcome objections. Provide testimonials and tools to demonstrate the solution or product. Don't leave things up to chance.
Why Do They Buy?
Do you understand the path your prospects take from the moment they realize they need your product or solution until the time they decide to purchase? By using customer surveys and involving your sales team, you should be able to create a list of basic steps most prospective customers take before they buy. Once you identify them, you can equip your sales organization to effectively engage with prospects and provide customized responses that will move them further along the sales process.
Be sure to relentlessly evaluate your sales process and make improvements when you see a shortcoming. Try new things and share ideas across your organization. And most important of all, track conversion rates to measure how effective your process is and how any improvements affect the process. For example, is it more effective to send prospects an email with a link to a custom landing page, or a YouTube video where the product can be demonstrated? And how much more—or less—effective is this than handing prospects a brochure in person or having them attend a lunch-and-learn product demonstration? Learn what works, and why, and your conversion rates will improve dramatically.
Fine-Tune Your Process
Eventually you'll be able to identify where prospects might stall out; your sales team can then brainstorm ways to jump-start them. Over time you'll begin to see which of your sales members are especially gifted in one or more key steps, and they can share their secrets with the rest of your team. Or you may begin to notice that campaigns that worked six months ago are no longer providing the desired results and you can adjust as needed.
Get Set and Go
The conversion of prospects into customers is what growing your business is all about. By mapping the sales process, measuring your results and fine-tuning your efforts, you can empower your sales team to succeed more often and turn potential customers into actual customers without leaving it all to chance. To read an extended version of this article with additional tips for making the most of sales leads, Ingram Micro customers can visit our Small Business Group website at www.ingrammicro.com/sbg.
About the author: Keith Giles is a staff writer for the Ingram Micro Channel Advisor.