As a sales leader, does it ever feel like you have little visibility or control over the process that determines how your sales reps follow up with leads? Many sales leaders I talk to explain the process of turning leads into opportunities as a mystery.
If this sounds like you, it might be time to take a step back, look at the bigger picture and determine how you can ensure your team is positioned for sales success. Whether the problem lies with a lack of internal workflow, or your leads have gone cold or even worse, fallen through the cracks entirely, don't panic.
Whatever the diagnosis may be, follow these remedies to help your organization get back into shape: speed, persistence and consistency. When combined, these three remedies will help sales teams convert leads into customers.
Diagnosis No. 1--New leads are waiting hours or days for a response.
If this is you, you're not alone. Studies show that many prospects wait hours, days or even weeks to get a response from a sales rep by email or phone. And some don't get a response at all.
Remedy No. 1--Make speed-to-contact a top priority.
It should go without saying that being quick to respond to a new lead goes a long way. In fact, studies show that the best way to get ahold of a new prospect is to contact them within the first minute of inquiry.
Sales teams need to consider whether they are quick enough to get prospects the information they need when they need it. When a prospect fills out an online inquiry form, it's usually an indication that they recognize a challenge within their company that could be solved by your product or service. It is after this recognition that they begin the actual search for a solution. If your sales rep is first to contact them, there is a chance to have an early discovery conversation, present your company as a source of value to them and form a lasting first impression.
Diagnosis No. 2--Sales reps give up too soon on new leads.
Sales organizations can't afford to have a leaky sales funnel that allows leads to slip through the cracks, and yet they do. It's hard to believe, but 50 percent of leads never receive a second follow-up call.
Remedy No. 2--Persist but don't annoy.
The age-old saying, "If at first you don't succeed, try, and try again"--rings true here. A key factor in sales success is persistence; sales reps should never give up too soon. In fact, industry research shows 93 percent of converted leads are contacted by the sixth call attempt. To get the most revenue out of your sales efforts, document and deploy a contact strategy to ensure your sales reps are making the most of every lead. For example, ensure they are attempting to contact prospects the appropriate number of times before putting them back into a nurture program.
Be cautious not to go overboard. While calling a lead as many times as it takes to contact them may seem like a good idea, this approach can have a negative impact, wasting resources and even worse, tarnishing your reputation.
Diagnosis No. 3--Lead follow-up varies greatly across the organization.
Many companies today deploy extensive processes for marketing to their leads; often nurturing a lead until it reaches a certain lead score, deeming it "sales ready." All too often, however, once a lead is handed off to sales, the process goes out the window. Reps use their own discretion on how they follow-up with leads, which results in an environment of heroes and zeros.
Remedy No. 3--Ensure consistency in how leads are followed-up with.
The key here is to identify the ideal sales process and contact strategy for your organization. The good news is your ideal sales process lives with your best reps. By analyzing the steps your best reps take to convert leads, you can quickly identify which practices work best and which are least effective. Moreover, these processes can be documented and passed onto the "average" sales reps to help train them to attain better revenue results. Once you have a consistent process in place across your entire organization, don't forget to track, measure and fine-tune your process.
The hallmarks of today's inside sales environments is rapid turnaround, a high volume of leads, and short sales or qualification cycles. But by taking these remedies and passing them on to your sales teams, not only will inefficiencies that typically impact conversion rates be caput, but you will also have a healthier sales organization. Besides, who wouldn't want to start the New Year off in their best form?