This is the fifth article in a series called Biblical Principles for Sales and Marketing. The first article expounded on five principles that are foundational to Biblical marketing decisions:
1. Love. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. Luke 6:31
2. Truth. A false balance is abomination to the Lord: but a just weight is his delight. Prov 11:1
3. Humility. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Philippians 2:3
4. Contentment. Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. Hebrews 13:5
5. Service. Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. Ephesians 4:28
In the previous article on lead generation, I wrote, “To generate more leads, you need to get people to ‘raise their hand’ and let you know they are interested.” But what should you do after you know they have interest?
What is lead conversion?
Lead conversion is the process and tools you use to educate and communicate with the people that have expressed interest in your offering. The purpose of lead conversion is to help these prospects make the buying decision that is in their best interest. Ultimately the lead is either converted to a customer or converted to a disqualified lead. However, they may exist in your lead list for a long time.
Here are just a few of the tools you can use to convert leads: product brochure or catalog, website, videos, a sales presentation, a written warranty, customer testimonials, photos and illustrations, and samples.
Design your conversion tools to help your prospective customer do one of two things: 1) decide to become a paying customer or 2) disqualify themselves from purchasing from you.
What are some of the ways we can apply the five principles listed above to lead conversion?
1. The principle of love
Love calls us to understand the other person’s needs and desires. We could think of lead conversion as “persuading someone to buy my product,” but that viewpoint is primarily selfish. As Christians who genuinely love our prospective customers, we should think differently. We should be more concerned that they are taken care of in the best possible way than that we make the sale.
Helping a prospect make the buying decision that fits them best can mean that they end up buying from our competitor. Does that sound like poor business strategy? Actually, it’s not. Making the sale to unqualified leads is a waste of resources. These customers will not be happy with your products and services. They will waste your customer service people’s time, ask for discounts or returns, or maybe worst of all, tell others a negative story about your business.
On the flip side, you stand to gain by helping redirect leads who are misaligned with your product or service or price. Your honesty will gain their trust and give them reason to spread good words about you. If they ever do need what you have, they will surely be back.
In This Is Marketing, Seth Godin discusses this concept of turning unqualified leads away under the heading “It’s not for you.” He writes, “We are not supposed to say that. We’re certainly not to want to say that. But we must. ‘It’s not for you’ shows the ability to respect someone enough that you’re not going to waste their time, pander to them, or insist that they change their beliefs.”
2. The principle of truth
Some of us salesmen are inclined to stretch the truth to make the sale. Please always tell people the truth even if you know it is not what they want to hear. Everyone knows that no product is perfect, so don’t act like your product is perfect or a perfect fit for everyone.
If you get asked a question that you don’t know the answer to, tell the person that you don’t know, but you will find out and get back to them. Folks will respect you for that more than if you blunder through a non-answer or if you make up an answer on the fly with no basis. If you make it a habit to seek out information you need, you will soon know a lot more of the answers and be that much more helpful to customers.
Be realistic with stories, photography, and testimonials. Be especially careful how you present data and research. It’s possible to make mediocre numbers look fantastic by tweaking the way numbers are presented. One of my pet peeves is bar graphs with the bottom chopped off. This makes the percentage of difference between the bars appear much greater than what it actually is.
Do your best to communicate accurately. It is always better to under-promise and overdeliver than vice versa. In his book The Personal MBA, Josh Kaufman writes, “Honesty is always the best policy, and not just from a moral perspective. Misrepresenting your offer may net a few more sales in the short term, but it dramatically increases the probability that your customer’s expectations will be violated, decreasing their satisfaction and permanently harming your reputation.”
3. The principle of humility
I know that you believe strongly in your company. That is good! But avoid belittling your competition. There is even a place to point out some of their strengths. Openly acknowledging their strengths shows confidence in your own offering.
If you show comparison charts of your products versus competitors’ products, make them factual and as neutral as possible. Show why some people would choose your product over the competition’s and vice versa.
Remember that the customer wants to be right. Don’t argue with or belittle your customers or their viewpoints. Instead, patiently lead them from where they are to a better understanding of reality. Questions show humility and work well to lead a customer forward in the path of better understanding.
The well-worn “Feel, Felt, Found” approach is another good way to do that. For example, a prospect states that your service contract is too expensive. You can respond with, “I understand how you feel. Many of our customers initially felt the same way. But when we researched how much our customers save in repairs, we found that the maintenance program actually saves them money because it prevents costly breakdowns.” Obviously, you want to make sure that you can substantiate your claim.
4. The principle of contentment
The Bible’s teaching that there is great gain in being content seems to be mostly lost in our consumeristic society today. Marketers routinely appeal to people’s carnal desires, often either sparking discontentment or appealing to discontentment with a person’s status or possessions or place in life:
- To have more
- To be the most stylish or attractive
- To be the most powerful
- To be better than others
- To live in luxury
- To avoid work
- To find true happiness
- And more . . .
Ironically, the pursuit of “more” often leads to “less.” People are often searching for meaning and happiness because their lives are empty, but we should not imply that our products will help them find it. Neither should we pressure someone to spend more than they can afford even though we would benefit from their poor decision. Remember, there is great gain in contentment!
We should show them how our product or service will solve a problem they have. Show the benefits they can experience from having that problem solved. It’s worthwhile to point out that solving their problem could result in such things as:
- More time to spend doing more important things
- Savings that will allow them to invest in other areas
- Peace of mind from lower risks
- Improved health
- Better performance
5. The principle of service
The goal of a salesperson and a marketer creating lead conversion tools should be to serve the prospect. One way to serve them is to make the journey to the best decision as friction-free as possible.
Some people prefer reading a well-written description while others prefer to look at a diagram or photo, while others might prefer a conversation with a real person. Allowing prospects to choose their method of learning is a caring act that will pay back well.
People also have different values. Some care more about style and polish while others care more about functionality. Some might be most concerned about the economic value of the purchase while others care more about the status or security it gives them. Developing content to address all of the common questions and objections is a great service to your prospects. It also will save you a lot of time talking with them. It can also increase your conversion rate of happy customers.
This quote from the previous article bears repeating: “When greed takes the place of love, a man is looked upon as a consumer, as a buyer, but not as a real person, a creature of God, with specific needs, problems, interests and ideals” (Jonah D. Tangelder).
The principle of stewardship is not listed as one of our five principles for sales and marketing, but it also applies. I’ve mentioned this before, but I will mention it here again because it is so important: good stewardship calls us to test and measure the responses we get from our lead conversion efforts.
Before investing time or money in a lead conversion effort we should consider how we will track responses. The following numbers will help us to make better decisions about lead conversion in the future.
- Number of leads we gained
- Number of leads who converted to customers
- Dollars sold
- Profit margin on sales
As Christians who want to please God in our businesses, we need to remember that every person we relate to is a person that God loves. We owe them respect and love. We should do our best to leave a positive impact on each one regardless whether they are a qualified lead or not.