Modern customers are more informed than ever, and, by the time they reach your business as a lead, they’re usually some way down the decision making process.
You’d be forgiven for assuming this makes them somewhat easier to convert, but the opposite is usually true.
Converting leads into sales is as tricky as it ever was. Some may argue it’s harder, given the variety of channels through which potential customers can contact businesses and the power existing customers have when it comes to moulding company reputation.
For a business to become sustainable and capable of satisfactory growth, it needs to convert leads to sales at volume. In this blog, we’re going to consider how your company can do just that.
Harnessing the inbound sales methodology
Customers no longer need to go directly to a salesperson to buy something, and this has given rise to the term ‘inbound sales’ – a methodology that aligns businesses with the shopping behaviours of modern buyers.
The inbound sales methodology focuses on the following elements:
- Identify: the awareness stage of the buyer journey where potential customers are converted from strangers to leads
- Connect: this is where leads are qualified and moved from awareness of your business to consideration
- Explore: as qualified leads start to engage with your business, their needs are explored more deeply to find sales opportunities
- Advise: once opportunities are found, you’re able to advise leads on the best solution for their needs, which may result in them becoming a paying customer
There’s five ways your sales team can adapt the inbound sales process:
- Identify who they’re selling to. You can do this by creating buyer personas, who are fictional representations of your ideal customer.
- Create the buyer journey before the sales process. The point of inbound sales is to be one step ahead of the customer, therefore you need to work out what journey they are likely to take before developing internal sales processes.
- Move from being ‘helpful’ to advisory. Modern sales people need to ask, teach and guide prospects in order to build a solid bond between the business and its customers.
- Realise that a direct connection isn’t always an opportunity to sell. Always connect with leads based on their stage within the buyer journey; if they’re not ready to purchase yet, don’t be too pushy.
The importance of customer service
Every business owner knows that providing brilliant customer service is vital, but it’s easy to overlook how it impacts the sales process.
If you can increase the quality of the support your team offers post-sale, there’s a tangible link with increased profits. And, as you’d expect, the opposite is true; provide poor customer service, and your bottom line is likely to suffer.
Let’s consider how customer service directly impacts sales:
- Retention: In order for your company to grow and prosper, it needs to keep customer churn at an acceptable level. You won’t keep every customer, clearly, but with great aftersales support, the majority are likely to come back for more
- Conversion rates: Interaction with your customer support team will directly affect whether or not a purchase is made; poor service (either directly or indirectly) will result in more abandoned purchases
- Reputation: The modern buyer has power; they can leave reviews for the world to see and talk about you on social media. Get your customer service wrong, and they’ll wield this power to drive new customers elsewhere
There’s a few things you can do to ensure customer service has a positive impact on sales.
Start by providing the team with the best tools to enable service calls to be carried out in an acceptable timeframe, but ensure the focus is always on providing a solution to any issue.
Don’t hide behind what is often a faceless sales process, either; by actively monitoring mentions of your business on social media, you can dive in and turn around poor experiences by showing you care.
We live in a world full of technological solutions that free employees of repetitive tasks. And, far from simply handing over every job to ‘the robots’, this represents a great opportunity to invest staff time in more productive processes.
Automation should play a big role in every modern sales team, and it can do so in the following ways:
- Outreach: Keeping in contact with potential customers is vital in building a layer of trust, but it’s time consuming. By automating email marketing comms and picking a CRM system that enables sales agents to make calls and send email directly from customer records, you’ll save significant time
- Prioritising leads: A healthy flow of leads is a great thing to have, but they can quickly become unmanageable if there’s no prioritisation. By using a lead scoring system, those that need immediate attention (based on their stage within the buyer journey) will be flagged to the sales team automatically
- Lead distribution: When a lead comes in, who deals with it? If they get dealt with by multiple people or – worse still – missed entirely, that’s time and revenue down the drain. Modern CRM systems are able to capture and distribute leads intelligently throughout the team, without human intervention.
Automation requires investment in order to have the right systems in place, but the return on that investment will satisfy any board.
And finally: lead nurturing
The tips we’ve covered above will put you in a great position to be able to convert leads at volume, but in order to ensure you can sustain that growth, you need to become very adept at lead nurturing.
This is the process of nurturing relationships with buyers throughout their journey. And because most leads in your CRM probably aren’t ready to buy, you need to put the effort in to pique their interest.
The simplest way to nurture leads is to score them as follows:
- Are they a good fit? Does the prospect match your buyer persona? Gain an insight into this by requesting key data points when they sign up on your website.
- How interested are they? Working out how attracted the lead is to your brand will help you nurture the relationship. For instance, are they spending lots of time on your website or continually calling you?
- Their behaviour. For example, a lead who reads a few blog posts probably isn’t as close to making a buying decision as someone who continually registers for your webinars.
Are you ready to convert leads to sales at volume? Modern sales moves at a rapid pace, but with the tips above, you’ll create a sales strategy that is always one step ahead of the customer.