The sales process has changed. Potential customers conduct research for different options before reaching out to a vendor to do business with them. They are reading blogs, listening to podcasts, downloading lead magnets, maybe chatting in DM’s and consuming social content. What’s great about this, is that if someone makes a move and engages with your brand and reaches out, they are seriously considering working with you.
Having worn both the sales and marketing hats over the years, sometimes doubling as both within the same company, there are some best practices for converting inbound leads into paying customers. Worth noting, that someone who downloads a lead magnet is usually not at the same stage of the buyer’s journey as someone who submits a contact form.
The top best practices for converting inbound leads into new customers include:
1. Always reply quickly to form submissions as they come in.
If people are shopping around, this is your chance to beat the competition. To start a relationship with the prospect before anyone else can beat you to the punch. Pick up the phone and do not be the last vendor to reach out. Be first. Do a quick Google search if you are in the B2B landscape to find out a little more about who you will be talking to help guide your conversation.
2. Have a brand voice on social media that replies to comments and online reviews.
Build a network, provide value, and communicate with your audience. Answer questions timely, engage on comment threads, grow relationships and earn the title of being a trusted authority. Reply to both good and bad reviews and let people evaluate your customer service by how you handle feedback.
3. Have conversations and initiate relationships.
Don’t expect people to do a deal worth thousands of dollars over a few emails (some wish it were that easy). Pick up the phone and connect over a consult, exchange conversational direct messages or send a personalized video to hot prospects that are engaged and almost ready to buy. Ask questions, get to know their needs and where they’re at with your offer to ensure alignment and to prevent an unsatisfied customer down the road. Qualify their needs like they are qualifying your solution. Both parties need to feel good about heading into a deal, or it can backfire later.
4. Generate content that provides the social proof and thought leadership for how you serve and deliver products and services.
A few helpful examples can include educational blogs or podcasts that demonstrate your expertise, customer testimonials (video or social cards), online reviews, case studies and LinkedIn recommendations.
5. Nurture prospects that are not quite ready to buy with email marketing.
The overarching goal should always be to grow your list, an asset you own, and control that produces revenue. Provide regular value to your audience and watch the cheque books come out as you build a trusted relationship with your brand. Focus on being interesting and providing unique educational value, so they can decide on their own time to work with you either now or in the future.
6. Use social media content to engage, entertain and inform your audience what your brand is all about.
Attract people to you like a magnet by publishing content that is enjoyable and educational to consume.
7. Don’t cold pitch on LinkedIn without any relationship building first.
It is a big no-no and can put off what could blossom into something good and solid when forming a new relationship. That’s what business is about after all. Who has time to donate to pitchy calls with someone who hasn’t gotten to know either you or your needs yet? No one. Start a relationship and offer sincerity when you reach out. How do you know for sure what you are offering is aligned with their needs? You don’t. Get to know them first. People do business with those they have trusted relationships with; the first 1-2 cold outreach contacts do not have that foundation yet to go there. Start a conversation and see where it takes you.
8. Set up free consult/discovery calls with warm prospects.
A discovery call allows you to determine if there is alignment to work together in most cases. If someone is reaching out these days, they have short-listed you as someone they already want to work with. Qualify their needs and see if you are compatible to go to the next step together.
The sales arena is fundamentally different and is driven by digital marketing and earning influence today. Attract your ideal buyers by highlighting what you do best, and the share the destination promised land that working with you will provide.
Did I miss anything? What are some of your own best practices for converting inbound leads into new customers?