You spend a lot of time and money driving leads to your business. But if you aren’t turning those leads into customers, you’re not getting a return on investment. Converting leads isn’t always as easy as producing them, and many business owners have the shared pain point of having leads go cold after the initial inquiry. So, why do leads give you the cold shoulder, and what can you do about it?
I’ve found there are often recurring themes for why a lead is giving you the cold shoulder:
- You didn’t fulfill their needs during their first inquiry
- They had a poor customer service experience
- You didn’t follow up at all
- You followed up too late (or only once)
- You didn’t nurture the lead
Regardless of why a lead has gone cold, now is your chance to improve your lead conversion for the future. Here are three key processes to put in place at your business to reduce the amount of unconverted leads:
Train Your Staff on How to Handle Inbound Leads
Your staff should have clear instructions and guidelines on how to handle inbound leads. What is their expected role? What are their required responsibilities and what does success look like? If a staff member can’t clearly answer those questions, then you need to implement and enforce lead handling standards.
If a staff members deals with new customer inquiries, training should be required when they’re first hired and as an ongoing practice.
There can be multiple ways clients find your business, so your staff needs to know where each lead is coming from and etiquette for each. Whether it’s phone calls, live chats, walk-ins, or emails, your staff is representing your business, so make sure they’ve mastered best practices to optimize lead conversion.
Put a Lead Management Process in Place
Once your team has expertly handled the initial contact of a new lead, you need a defined and organized process for expected next steps. You can’t expect the customer to reach back out when they’re ready to buy or when they’re ready to move forward in the buying process; you need to follow up and move them through the process. Your competitors are following up to win their business, so you should too.
Was there ever a scenario when you chose a business over another because they followed up with you first? That’s the power of lead management. In fact, 35% of sales go to the first company to respond to a lead.
Remember, many reasons that leads go cold is because you only followed up once or didn’t follow up at all. Make sure that you have a cadence for reaching back out to customers and organize your communication outreach within a lead management system. Take a step back and analyze this process every few months to learn and adjust your communication methods and timeline.
Use Marketing Automation
With marketing automation, you’re able to not only follow up with clients right away so they know they’re a priority, but you can also use it to nurture leads.
When clients are inquiring into your business, they’re typically ready to buy. If you don’t answer the phone or promptly answer their email, they could be dialing your competitor down the street, and you could lose their business (that’s why it’s important to have a lead management process). With marketing automation, you can set up immediate responses for when people inquire via email or chat, especially after hours, which can be key to winning their business.
In addition, prospective customers can get sidetracked and sales cycles can grow long. In this case, marketing automation can make sure your business stays top of mind with your leads. When they’re ready to make a purchase, your continued persistence could outshine your competitor.
In fact, one of our own ReachLocal team members had a recent experience with a variety of businesses and their lead management tactics. How each business handled her business inquiry led to her decision to work with one business over the others. These instances happen every day, which is why these processes are so essential to your business. (Learn more about her story here.)
Driving leads to your business is only half the battle. Make sure to have a process in place for how your staff handles incoming leads and how you manage those leads. To learn more about best practices for lead management and nurturing, check out the ReachLocal blog.