Over the last few weeks, we’ve delved into the kinds of things you need to be doing to get new marketing leads, for example, getting your strategy in place, opening an online shop, creating a referral marketing programme and doing market research on your target audience. Now, you’ve got leads coming in, you need to nurture them in order to convert them into customers.

Nowadays, especially now when unemployment in rising and people may have less disposal money, you need to delve deeper to turn leads into customers.

In our digital world of fast information, comparison sites, customer reviews and a swipe-until-it’s-right mentality, it’s no longer good enough just to give your customer product knowledge and wait for them to buy. Your customer is sitting at a global buffet of business offers and is highly critical and increasingly cynical of the options in front of them.

A lot of emphasis is placed on getting the lead, and it’s tempting to celebrate lead generation tactics and think that the job is done. Essentially, what you’ve done so far with good marketing is dangled the carrot and piqued the interest of the right people.

Now you need to nurture those leads in order to convert them into customers.

So, how do you turn a lead into a customer?

1. Categorise your leads

There’s a lot of jargon out there to describe the difference between those who are at the early stage of the buying process, and those who are closer to ready to buy. Prospects and targets, hot and cold leads, qualified and unqualified. Call them whatever you want. The important point in doing so, is that you know who needs the most attention based on where they are in the buying process and know the kind of communication they will respond best to.

For example:

Someone new to your business who has downloaded a freebie from your website might be interested in receiving more information about you and your offering before considering a purchase and will likely be put off by pressurised sales tactics.

On the other hand, someone who has already been in contact with a sales rep has expressed an interest in a particular offering and is more likely to be ready to buy. This kind of lead needs immediate attention in order to close the deal and not let interest die.

Categorise your leads into groups that you understand, so you know the top priority people to follow up with vs those you need to drip feed marketing to.

2. A simple follow up goes a long way

Often, business owners spend a lot of time perfecting marketing and focusing on generating a lead and think that the process is done when they’ve “got them”. Not following up with your lead is like catching a fish and throwing it back in the ocean.

Sometimes a simple call or email to follow a website enquiry, for example, can go a long way to keeping that person in purchase mode. Contact your lead as soon as they come in, and then follow it up in a few days’ time to see if you can offer any further help. Give them that little nudge or reminder.

Extra tip: If you’re opting for a phone call, think about the time of day you’re going to call. Before 9am can be good, as you’ll avoid the gatekeeper. Picking the right time to ring a prospective customer can make a significant difference to your chances of making a sale.

3. Never forget to sell benefits before features

It’s easy to get carried away boasting about the amazing features of your product/service. But people don’t want to know why you made your product or service the way you did; they want to know how it’s going to change their life.

You don’t buy a new hoover because it’s complete with turbo-powered multi-cyclonic dust separation technology and that’s cool! You buy it because it’ll speed up that chunk of time in your week that you have to dedicate to chores, that you could be spending doing something you actually enjoy.

As software entrepreneur Jason Fried said, ‘“Here’s what our product can do” and “Here’s what you can do with our product” sound similar, but they are completely different approaches’.

4. And make sure you remind them of the Return On Investment

If your product or service has the potential to increase the return on their investment, educate your potential customers on the kind of return they can expect. It’s particularly helpful to use previous customers as a case study to prove that you can walk the walk.

5. Give something of value away…

… because who doesn’t like free stuff? Offering a free gift or a time sensitive discount is a great way to entice leads to convert. Instead of asking, give.

6. Listen and get personal

It seems like the simplest of tips – but sometimes it’s the basic things that get forgotten. Instead of rambling on with a well-practiced sales pitch, pay attention to what your potential customer has to say.

Instead of focusing on your own goals, focus on theirs. Understand their needs and wants. It’s your job to make them aware of the problems they’re facing and highlight how your product or service will solve it – and you can’t do that if you’re busy hammering on, and not identifying where they’re having issues!

Read our article on market research to help you learn about the importance of researching your potential customers, especially during the current climate when the economy and people are struggling financially. The needs of your target audience may well have changed since you last marketed to them.

7. Ask for the sale

I know, it goes against everything you think about selling. But sometimes, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. It’s as simple as that.

As the institute of purchasing management aptly said “Only one in five customers volunteer an order. The other four expect the salesperson to ask for one”. Find a way to ask your lead for a sale without being aggressive. After all, don’t forgot that they became a lead in the first place because there was initial interest there. Ask if they’re ready to move forward – you might be surprised by how many people say yes.

Ready to close the deal?

These are just a few tips and tricks. It’s more important than ever to nurture your leads and value to turn them into customers.

Email ayse@a4g-llp.co.uk to sign up to our ‘Turning Leads into Customers’ session where we can look at areas of improvement in your own business and walk away with a ready-to-go action plan.

Contact me today!

Ayse Cooper

Inbound Marketing Manager

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