Closing the sale can be one of the trickiest parts of the selling process if you make a few mistakes. You’ve worked really hard to get tons of new people looking at your website and all of those great leads start flowing in. Now the most important part takes place. You have to turn those leads into sales. Unfortunately, this is the part at which most entrepreneurs fail miserably. Most small business owners have an expertise in their own industry, but they often don’t have a lot of first-hand experience in how to close the sale – especially when they are first starting out.
Below are some of the most common mistakes that entrepreneurs make in the follow up process that keep them from closing the sale. Avoid them, and you will increase your closing ratio dramatically and turn more leads into sales.
Mistake #1: Thinking that All of Your Leads are Ready to Buy Right Now
Remember that just because people who search you out have a challenge or a problem, doesn’t mean that they will be ready to buy right now. However, if you keep in touch with them, avoid pressuring them to buy, and continue to educate them, they will often come to you when they are ready to buy.
You or your sales team will want to provide information for potential clients that help them solve their problems, build a relationship with these potential clients, and follow up until they are able to make a buying decision. It is a process, and in every step of the process, the trust level between you and your potential client should grow.
Granted, though, if you are getting thousands of leads every month, it will be impossible to follow up in detail with every single lead forever. You will also need some type of automated follow up system so that no one falls through the cracks.
An email follow up system can save you a lot of time.
Mistake #2: Giving Up on Leads
Most professional salespeople give up on prospects before they turn into business. Most entrepreneurs have an even lower closing ratio, but if you change the way that you follow up with your potential clients, you can turn things around very quickly.
When an initial lead comes in, for instance, someone comes onto a website and requests information via a form on the website, most small business people will do one of these things.
Most entrepreneurs will likely email the prospect with tons of sales literature and follow up via email a dozen times or so, and then quit trying with a “that’s not a real prospect after all” mentality.
Others might make a phone call and leave a voicemail and just wait for the person to call back.
Others will call and leave a voicemail and wait. Then call back and leave another voicemail. Then call back and leave another voicemail. And when the client doesn’t call back, they quit trying with a “that’s not a real prospect after all” mentality.
A very few will send out an expensive sales kit to the client via FedEx and wait a week or two to call them again hoping that the sales kit closes the deal.
By the way, any of those techniques will work every once in a while, but none of them will close a high percentage of deals for you.
A better process is to create different tiers of potential leads.
The first tier might be what I call email address leads. These are people who got free information from you and gave you their email address in return. If all you have is their email address, then you only have one way to follow up with them. So create an email follow up system in your CRM that combines education (information that they need) with offers to buy stuff from you. You might want to start with something small and build on it. If you are using a CRM system with an automatic email follow up, your follow up is turn-key.
The second tier might be website form leads. This is where someone comes onto your website and fills out a form requesting information or a call back from you. These are much higher quality leads, so they deserve a phone call. They are more likely to close more quickly, so be persistent in getting them on the phone. Don’t just leave a voicemail and wait. Based on your conversation with them, you can determine whether you want to create more follow up calls with the person or just divert them over to your email follow up system.
Your highest tier might be call-in leads. Typically, when people call you, they want immediate results, so they will close much more quickly. Spend more time with these folks and follow up with them one-on-one for a longer period of time. Don’t quit on these leads.
Whatever system you decide to use, DON’T QUIT! They requested information from you for a reason. You can help them.
Mistake #3: Giving a Sales Pitch
Don’t deliver prospects a standardized sales pitch. Instead, find out why they requested information from you. Once they tell you their problem, oddly enough, they will assume that you can solve the problem.
Here are a few phrases that will be gold for you.
* Do you mind if I ask you a few questions so that I have a better idea of what we should be talking about?
* So why are you interested in (fill in the blank with whatever product or service you sell)?
* Has something happened recently that has moved this up on your priority list?
Those should help you get started on the right foot with your new prospect. The more that they talk, the more they will want to buy from you. Fight the urge to jump in when you see an opportunity to sell to them.
Business Owner: “Do you mind if I ask you a few questions so that I have a better idea of what we should be talking about?”
Prospect: “I guess so…”
Business Owner: “So why are you interested in getting some advertising specialties made for your company?”
Prospect: “Well, the company that we bought pens from last time increased their charge and then messed up our website on the pens. We had to send them back, and we didn’t have any for our big tradeshow.”
Business Owner: “Well let me tell why that won’t be a problem with our company…”
Arrggghh… That is a BIG mistake. Your prospect is now venting to you about how bad your competitor is. Don’t cut her off. Encourage her to tell you more instead. Try something like…
Business Owner: “Gosh, that sounds terrible. What do you think that cost you?”
After she vents a little more, ask another question like, “Is there anything else about your current vendor that you’d like to improve?” etc. etc.
Continue asking questions until you feel like you have a few challenges that she has experienced that you think that you can fix for her.
So if you really want to close the sale and not push those leads away, realize that many of the people who contact you are not necessarily buyers now, but will become buyers in the future if you build a relationship with them. Keep following up with your leads and get an email follow-up program to help you turn those leads into sales. And finally, don’t come rushing in with a sales pitch. Instead ask questions of your prospect that gets the person to tell you what the real problem is, then offer a solution. Do these three things and you’ll close the sale more often.
Doug Staneart is the founder of The Leader’s Institute® and the creator of the Entrepreneur Boot Camp that helps small business owners grow their companies by sharing little-known secrets of successful entrepreneurs with new business owners. This article is one in a series of helpful small business lead generation tips, and you can read all of them for free on his Entrepreneur Boot Camp blog.