Your business is surrounded by people who are aware of your company to varying degrees. Picture this as expanding circles with a common center, your business in the middle.
- In the middle, you and your employees know and trust your business and products the most.
- In the second ring are your customers. They have firsthand experience with your company and product. They have experienced how you always fulfill the promises you make.
- In the ring beyond your customers are your leads, prospects who are interested in what you offer and are considering a purchase.
- Farthest out from your business is the general public. They may know you exist, but they do not currently have a need (or know they have a need) that you can serve.
What is lead conversion?
This article is about lead conversion, which is taking people from the third circle and bringing them into the next circle of your customers. You may think that this happens when a prospective customer signs a contract or pulls out their wallet to pay you.
That’s true, but let’s reverse the situation and look at it from the customer’s perspective. To put yourself in the customer’s shoes, think back to a recent purchase. The transition you made from being a lead to being a paying customer happened when the company did the following:
- Answered all (or most of) your questions about their product and process.
- Showed you that doing business with them solved your problem.
- Earned your trust as it relates to the product or service you purchased.
Once these things clicked into place in your brain, you were happy to sign the contract or pull out your wallet. Your goal is to give potential customers a similar experience in their journey from first awareness, all the way to a purchase decision.
While this is a crucial part of your marketing, it does not need to be overwhelming. As you read this article, pick one or two tips you can implement to make it easier for your potential customers to become committed customers.
And remember—no company converts 100% of its leads into customers; neither should they want to. Not everyone will make a good customer.
Lead conversion in action
Sam Walton, founder of Walmart, said, “There is only one boss: the customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”
Walton’s stark statement is a good reminder of how important it is to make it easy for customers to spend their money with us. Likely you already use some lead conversion tools to make sure that happens:
- Educational newsletter or online blog
- Product information sheets
- Product samples
- Free trials
- Customer relationship management (CRM) software
- What other ways are you converting leads into sales?
Tips for Making It Easier for Prospects to Decide
Pay attention to organization and simplicity. Did you know that how your website or catalog presents information makes a difference in people’s decision-making? Why? Because too much information can become overwhelming. In addition, unclear options will confuse the prospect, and we know that confused people stall at making decisions.
Aim to present products in groups or sequences that make sense to someone who is unfamiliar with them. Any options must be clearly shown. Decide which details are important to highlight, and which are insignificant.
Show prospects what success with your product looks like. Most leads have at least one objection you must overcome: it may be the price, uncertainty about the quality, uncertainty that the product will work, or any number of other concerns.
You can use both words and pictures to show the results. Depending on your offer, you will want to show them how your product will:
- Solve their problem.
- Pay for itself.
- Increase income.
- Make them a better person.
- Help them fulfill a responsibility.
- Contribute to a greater cause.
- Benefit others.
- Save time.
- Bring satisfaction.
Remind prospects what is at stake. What will happen if they decide not to buy your product? What are they missing out on? What is the negative result of not addressing the problem or pain the prospect faces?
Here are some examples of what I am referring to—first the product, and then a negative result of not making the purchase.
- Leather belt: needing to buy a new belt every six months when the cheap one starts to tear or split.
- Storage shed: continued frustration with extra stuff piling up in the basement or garage.
- Dental services: embarrassment (not to mention discomfort) of stained and unhealthy teeth.
Give prospects reason to believe in you. People who don’t trust us won’t hand over their hard-earned money. This is true whether they mistrust the product or, in a service business, mistrust us personally.
Here are some ways you can show that you are a credible, trustworthy business:
- Use testimonials and customer reviews. Prospects want to see that the other people are happy with your business. Today’s consumers trust fellow consumers more than they trust companies.
- List well-known customers. Do you serve customers or companies that are well-known or highly respected in your industry or area?
- List awards. Did one of your projects win first place in the 2017 Fantastic Fencing Competition?
- List certifications. Are you certified by the American Association of Spider Web Removal Professionals? (Yes, I just made that name up, but you get the point.)
- List the number of years you’ve been in business. This is not something to brag about, but it does bolster your case by giving people more reason to trust you. If you’ve been in business over five years, it’s obvious that you are not a fly-by-night operator.
Offer a written guarantee. Once I was shopping for a particular building material that I didn’t know much about. There were three different brands to choose from, all priced about the same. I talked with the salesperson, but he didn’t have a strong recommendation for which brand would be best. One product had a 25-year warranty, while the other two only offered a 5 and 10-year warranty.
I needed to make a decision with the limited information I had, and what the manufacturer’s warranty said about their product made the difference. The longer warranty communicated their confidence to me, so that is the one I chose.
What guarantee or warranty can you offer to lower the risk to customers? Lower their risk with free trials or money-back guarantees.
Frame your product in the proper price point. Warren Buffet once said, “Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.” How to price your products is a discussion for another day but take a hard look at the benefits of using value-based pricing over the cost-plus method.
If you are selling a high-dollar product, you know that design matters—the product has to both look and perform like a high-quality item. The same principle applies to your marketing. Your marketing should reflect the price category in which your product belongs. If you have a low-priced product, the look and feel of your marketing will be different than the marketing for a high-end product.
Give clear, simple instructions on how to purchase. If potential customers feel favorably toward you, they want to say “yes,” and do business with you. Make it easy by clearly presenting the steps in your sale process.
Train your sales staff. You know what the common objections are in your business. Train your sales staff how to turn those objections into reasons to buy. Teach them the basics of low-pressure, honest, caring, and effective salesmanship.
If you are a wholesaler, find ways to help your retailers convert sales. Have you considered providing any of these for your retailers?
- Point-of-purchase displays
- Idea books
Another way to serve your retailers is to answer their questions immediately. On the other side, if you are a retailer, take advantage of the resources and training your vendors offer.
Calculate conversion rates. Track the number of leads and the number of sales to determine your conversion rate. The formula is number of sales divided by number of leads. If one hundred people come to your special event, and five of them purchase, your conversation rate was five percent.
Increasing your conversion rate is a long-term ROI (Return on Investment) gain that will contribute to the strength of your business.
As marketers, we throw around terms like lead generation, lead conversion, prospects, target audience, and more. But don’t forget that these technical terms refer to living, breathing people, who have faces, lives, and personal stories. If we can connect with their needs and desires, they will allow us to make a difference in their lives by purchasing from us.
Which one of these lead conversion tips do you think will bring the biggest return for you? Implement that tip and track how it changes things. Was the effect positive or negative? How could you change it to improve your results? Incremental change in the short term will yield monumental change in the long term.
Roy Herr is the senior marketing consultant at Rosewood Marketing. Most small business owners struggle to develop effective marketing. Rosewood walks alongside clients to help them create and execute effective marketing plans so they can be in control of their growth and utilize more of their production capacity.
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