You’ve done it. You’ve finally got a marketing program that works! Your phone is ringing, your inbox is full, and maybe you’re even seeing more new faces in your store. But while traffic is up, business isn’t booming like you’d expect it to be. What gives?
Like the old adage, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. Your marketing can bring you leads, but it typically can’t close business by itself. Once leads contact you and express interest, it’s up to you.
Whether you’ve got a lead response strategy in place or not, it’s always a good idea to take a second look at how you and your team handle incoming leads and make sure you’ve got game. Here are some tips and tricks you can start using today.
Strike While the Iron is HOT
You probably didn’t hear it here first. But lead response time should be fast. How fast? Lightning fast. One study concluded that the best time to respond to a lead is within five minutes of the first contact. If you don’t follow up within that five-minute window, you may miss out on closing that lead.
There are two primary reasons for this:
- They could already be seeking out your competitors. People expect to find information when they are looking for it, not after. Remember, if you don’t answer the phone when they call, finding your competition is as easy as scrolling to the next business listing in their search engine results.
- When someone contacts you, they’re likely ready to buy or gosh-darn-close. Your best chance of closing that prospect is at the moment when they have already decided to call you, are ready to talk, and have their questions fresh in mind. If you miss that moment, they could have moved on to their next task, forgotten their questions, or even be less ready to make a decision.
How can you speed up your lead response time?
- One-man-store? Have calls and voicemails forwarded to your mobile.
- Are you staffed? If you find that a lot of phone calls are being missed because there aren’t enough hands on deck, consider hiring someone to man the phones. Or, consider adding live chat to your website so you have a way to collect information and provide helpful answers to questions that come in through chat.
- Do you have a lot of email inquiries? Create a unique email address for all of these queries and make sure this inbox is checked several times an hour by you or your team. Or, automate the process with lead management software like ReachEdge that can make the process seamless for you.
Follow Up (More Than Once)
You’ve made a call – maybe you talked to the lead, maybe you didn’t. You sent an email – they responded or maybe they didn’t. What is your next step? Your sales process should include a clearly defined follow up loop. Follow up diligently and often. Even if you don’t reach them the first try, by the sixth attempt there is an average 90% chance of making contact.
Understand your sales cycle – how long does it take for someone to make a purchase in your industry? 30 minutes? One week? 30 days? Until that time is up they are still “warm” leads and are further along your sales funnel than any non-leads. So, it is well worth an investment of your time to check back in until they tell you they are not interested. Here is a good place to start:
Here is a good place to start:
- If they didn’t answer when you called back, try again before the end of the day.
- Be sure to contact them the following day.
- Then give them some space, but don’t let a full week go by before reaching out again. They may not be “in the moment” right now, but if they haven’t made a purchase decision yet you can bet they will be very soon.
- After this point, weekly or even bi-weekly should be sufficient enough. The more personal the follow-up, the more memorable it will be.
Some of this follow up you can automate with email messages. But it is also important to reach out by phone if that is the prospect’s preferred method of contact. Lead management tools like ReachEdge allow you to track how and when leads have been reached out to and gives you the opportunity to automate that process.
Nurture Your Leads
The path to purchase is well established. For consumers it begins with identifying a need, doing research, evaluating alternatives, and then making a decision. With the internet at their fingertips, the research and evaluation phases have dramatically shortened the amount of time it requires to do this research while also providing them with more and more options. During this window, there are opportunities for you to engage with them after initial contact. If you are not nurturing your leads, they will likely pick your competition.
So how can you nurture leads?
- Make sure they are aware of any sales or special events. Use this as an excuse to call them as you are following up!
- Give them the opportunity to opt-in to email marketing.
- Use retargeting to bring prospects back after they’ve visited your page.
This is Just the Beginning
Once you’ve considered and even tried some or all of these tactics, remember the job is not done! Every business and every sales cycle is unique and different, and consumer trends and behaviors are constantly changing. It takes some elbow grease and a willingness to try new things to figure out what works or what could work better. Make it a point to revisit your lead management process quarterly, and make sure you have the tools to measure the changes you’ve made.