In this article, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston explains why you’re not currently converting enough enquiries into customers…..and what you can do about it to get the results you deserve……..
One of the things I’m noticing at the moment is that businesses aren’t converting enough of their sales leads into business. Let’s face it, if someone has taken the trouble to enquire with you, then you should be getting a high conversion rate from that, right? That isn’t always happening right now.
In addition, many companies right now have what I would call ‘non-salespeople’ doing activities that would be traditionally handled by a salesperson. This may be due to things bring ‘tight’, a new focus on ‘new business’, staff leaving (or being made redundant), so their activities now get passed to other people.
This means for example in some cases that marketing staff are making cold calls for appointments, customer service staff are making outbound sales calls and the worst thing ever – admin staff are taking incoming sales enquiries!!!
Think about it. You’ve paid all that money for advertising, networking, marketing, or whatever lead generation method you use to ‘earn’ that sales enquiry. Then the person taking it has little or no sales ability, little or no training in what’s needed to convert it into a sale, and has no idea how much business they could be losing through their lack of understanding!
How scary is that? Even people employed in a sales role don’t always handle sales enquiries as well as they could, so what chance has a ‘non salesperson’ got?
So, below are some reasons why you’re currently not converting as many sales enquiries as you could be – and what you can do to get them back on track!
For any incoming sales enquiry right now, responding could mean the difference between you converting that enquiry into a customer, and missing out on the business to one of your competitors.
Right now, people have more choice than ever before, and more companies are desperate for their business than ever before – so are you prepared to let one of your competitors get business that could have been yours?
Ask yourself – how fast do you currently get back to your sales enquiries? And then, how could you speed that up?
This is another example of poor handling of a sales call. This is where the person taking the incoming sales enquiry only asks questions that get the specification, or the details that they need in order to quote for the work.
Bizarrely, this is what most companies train the staff responsible for taking the sales enquiries to do! So those staff give a quotation without asking anything about buying motivation, current supplier, other quotes, buying timescales or other information that would help them secure the business.
It’s almost like the business equivalent of giving a quotation, crossing their fingers, clicking their heels together 3 times and ‘hoping’ that the person rings them back to place the order!! Is that really the way we want to treat those precious sales enquiries in the current business climate?
Another thing that seems to get missed when staff are handling sales enquiries is understanding the full cope of the potential opportunity. This has been made worse by the customer service people and poor sales trainers in the past that have banged on about ‘you must treat every customer the same’. What a load of old rubbish!!
Should a printing company treat differently a customer who buys £50 worth of business cards once a year, compared to a company that spends £25,000 on their annual print requirements? Of course they should! Now of course both customers should receive good service, but would you want to ask different questions of these 2 different enquiries? Would your sales process change based on their potential spend? Would you service the account differently? Of course you would!
The problem is, you need to qualify the potential opportunity first – so start doing it!
Another mistake most people make is that they don’t control the situation properly. Once the potential customer has put the phone down (or walked out of the shop in a retail context) – if you haven’t defined or agreed the ‘next steps’, you’ve just lost control of the sales situation.
If you just give them your quotation, or hand/send them your literature and then leave them to their own devices, they’re probably going to buy somewhere else, or not at all! If they’ve bothered to take the time to call you, send an enquiry over the internet, or arrive in your showroom then right now is the opportunity. Not tomorrow, not the day after, not next week – but right now.
So if you can’t take advantage of this opportunity, then you have to define the ‘next steps’, what will happen in what sequence and get them ‘locked in’ to you, rather than letting them go off ‘shopping’ and comparing prices with you and the competition – or against their existing supplier!
There is no excuse for this! ‘I was too busy’ doesn’t cut it. ‘I got caught up in other things’ doesn’t cut it. ‘Well they’d come back to me if they wanted it, wouldn’t they?’ is just plain stupid!
If you’ve bothered to take the enquiry in the first place, and weren’t able to convert them into a customer on that occasion, yet you know they’re interested enough in what you do to have enquired in the first place, why on earth wouldn’t you bother to follow it up?
If you’re guilty of this one, you might as well email over all your sales enquiries to your competition, because you’re giving them the business as it is! Follow up each enquiry quickly, and secure the business for you and your company, rather than giving it to someone else!
Follow the tips above and watch your sales soar! I look forward to hearing how you get on……..