MT Expert: Convert enquiries into business

What is the point of spending time, money, and manpower on generating leads if you don't convert them into profitable business? Author Ian Cooper has the secrets to this particular brand of alchemy.

by Ian Cooper
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013
First of all, everyone is in sales. Whoever physically meets and talks to customer prospects wears a ‘sales hat’, whatever their job description. All too often, callers and visitors are simply ‘processed’ as a matter of administration and in many cases the prospective customer or client is almost made to feel like a nuisance. The conversion starts with the receptionist, switchboard, or even the security guard.

The really important thing is not necessarily what they say, but how they make the potential customer or client feel. Think of the enquiry call or visit to your premises as a ‘test drive’. If you haven’t dealt with them before, then the whole experience and encounter is as if they were ‘test driving' your business.  

Once a potential lead comes through, think about how you need to deal with it. Don’t just run the usual patter. Think. Many sales people dealing with telephone leads are on mental auto-pilot, so that every caller or visitor is dealt with in virtually the same way. Challenge what they are doing and look at conversion results strategically.

They say selling isn’t an exact science. Well, that doesn’t mean that all logic and analysis have to go out of the window. It is vital for you to have reasonably precise statistical tracking information on the enquiries and leads that are being generated and your current conversion rates.

This will affect who takes incoming calls. Just as in a game of cricket, it is generally accepted that the best batsmen should go in to bat first. You need to make sure that the enquiry handlers in your organisation who currently get the best conversion rates, handle the most prospects.

The old adage of ‘people buy people first’ is absolutely true. Don’t fall into the price trap and automatically assume that everybody who pops into your premises or calls and asks for the price, will only ever choose the cheapest. This is simply not the case. If you only give the price to those who ask, then it is you who reduces the issue to one of price and you who actually forces them to go to the cheapest.

Lastly, if you’re still in doubt, get someone from outside to take a hard and critical look in, as if they were a prospect. They should be looking at your available ‘conversion’ information, making mystery calls and visits to find out what is really going wrong and where the ‘leak’ is in your enquiries bucket.

Ian Cooper is the author of The Financial Times Guide To Business Development:  How To Win Profitable Customers and Clients

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