Drop me inside of a business with 30 days or less to increase profits and I can tell you without any advance prep work that the first place I would look for low hanging fruit is the sales system.
Let’s do a little basic business math to help you understand why this is so. If a business is generating 100 leads a month and turning 10 (10 percent) of those leads into $1,000 customers – that’s $10,000 in business. Let’s say I increase the leads generated through a big marketing campaign by 25 percent. (Something that might require significant investment to do). The result is $12,500 in new business.
Now, let’s say I instead focus that same energy on turning more leads into customers and eventually more customers into repeat buyers and referral generators. If through a couple of tweaks (that’s usually all that’s in order) I can get the lead conversion to go from 10 percent to 15 percent, the resulting new business would be $15,000. Never mind that a focus on lead conversion would probably force you to focus on a better customer experience, which would result in more sales, more leads and more referrals.
In fact, in my experience the lead conversion and experience mindset usually allows an organization to increase both leads and sales without the additional expense of a lead generation campaign alone – meaning seriously multiplied profits.
Below are the steps necessary to bring a lead conversion system in line with your overall marketing efforts.
1. What happens when the phone rings? – This may seem simple, but few organizations have a strategic planned response or action steps that each prospect is guided towards to make certain that they are a qualified and educated lead.
You know, or at least you should, the best way to provide value to your clients, but they may not. You must develop a process that clearly differentiates your business from the initial contact. Ideally, something you are putting out in the market has led them to want to know more. Lacking a process that allows you to move them logically down the path to like and trust, you’ll end up justifying price before they are ready to understand it.
My favorite way to look at this step is to take a look at what the rest of the market does by way of habit and find a way to interrupt what everyone else does. If you can develop a first step that provides value while differentiating, you’ll start attracting prospects that appreciate your approach – and then price goes down the list.
2. Are they educated? – Even a referred lead may not understand how you provided value, why you charge a premium, and what level of expertise you can provide.
It’s essential that your lead conversion process contains lots of training about how you do what you do and why it’s good for the prospect. This training can come in the form of eBooks, in person presentations, and archived slide shows, but it’s very important that your prospects consume it. If you skip this step or try to sell someone that doesn’t appreciate the process of education, what kind of long-term client are you likely to get?
Don’t pass go if your prospects won’t meet you at an informed place. You may go on fewer sales calls, but you’re more likely to attract clients that turn into referral sources.
3. Everyone on the same page – If more than one person is charged with selling, there’s a good chance that they are each doing it their way and not always a way that represents the brand and tells the story in a consistent manner.
Once you develop a lead conversion process, everyone must be trained, retrained, tested and evaluated on using the same process. Everyone must be able to state your core difference and value proposition word for word. People will make minor adjustments to fit their authentic style and situation, but everyone should be presenting information about your organization in precisely the same way or the brand will get very muddy.
A strong, consistent brand is your greatest profit generator.
4. Orient for the next sale – Once someone agrees to become a customer you need to have an orientation system in place that assures a smooth transition from prospect to customer.
Frequently, the team that sold the project is not the same as the team that does the work. By creating a new customer orientation process or kit, you can predetermine the contact, project, delivery and payment details and communicate them as part of the initial client orientation so that expectations that were set by marketing are communicated and met throughout.
A smooth transaction and experience is the fastest route to repeat business and word of mouth praise.
5. Results review process – Once a project is over or product successfully delivered you need to make certain that the customer received the value promised. It’s such an easy thing to install a planned review to go over the engagement, make sure they are using the product correctly, or have additional needs.
The fact that you initiate such a process up front gives the client the assurance that you are there for them. This is also the place where you can and should measure and reinforce that value actual value delivered. In some cases it’s actually far more than what you charged to do so and that’s a pretty strong illustration of value.
If, in fact, the customer is not fully satisfied this is also a great place to catch and correct what went wrong. In many cases this can turn a potential detractor into a big fan.
This is also the point at which case studies, testimonials and referrals can easily flow.
By spending just a little time and effort to design ways to create a selling system with the client experience in mind, you’ll automatically differentiate your organization and head down the fastest path increased topline and bottom-line growth.
Image credit: Timitrius
John Jantsch is a marketing coach, award winning social media publisher and author Duct Tape Marketing and The Referral Engine.