Did your mother ever tell you that honesty is the best policy? Mine certainly did, time and time again, when cookies went missing or homework went unfinished. And over the years, the saying has proven itself to be true. By “honesty” I don’t just mean “not lying,” but rather being clear and upfront. Adopting this attitude has had so many benefits in my work and personal life, from reduced stress to better relationships, but today I’d like to focus on how it is the key to converting your potential customers into actual customers.
Developing an open and honest relationship with your leads is important for several reasons:
- Honesty creates trust. If a lead feels comfortable sharing their needs and concerns, you can address them directly.
- An honest dialogue will determine if your business is well suited for addressing their needs.
- When choosing from multiple providers, a lead will choose the one that makes them feel most comfortable and capable of fulfilling their needs.
If you are accessible to your customer (whether that be at a brick and mortar storefront or an easily found ecommerce web store), capable of fulfilling their need, and are able to communicate this capability, you are 90% of the way to closing the sale. The other 10% involves sales techniques that are specific to your industry and business type like having engaging, helpful sales people, and negotiating. But because I’m speaking to all types of small businesses here, I want to focus on the 90% that is true for everyone. At its very core, converting leads into sales, is simply about being a good match for client needs and desires and effectively communicating that match. Lead generation efforts will focus on drumming up a large volume of consumers or businesses that fit your potential customer base and the lead conversion process should focus on communicating who you and your business are, what you offer and your alignment with the leads’ needs and wants. For the purpose of this article, we’ll assume you have already 1) defined who/what your company truly is 2) created a strategy for generating leads and 3) implemented that strategy. Here are some tips for effectively communicating your business to your potential customer:
Know Your Competition and Know Where You Stand
“Competition” doesn’t have to be so competitive. If you’ve positioned your business correctly, then you offer something different than your competitors do. But it’s important to stay on top of how your competitors are changing and evolving their products and services. Check out their websites, follow them on social media and stop by their retail location. Then be able to communicate that differentiation to your customers in an informative way.
See Through Your Customers' Eyes (And Listen Through Their Ears)
Sometimes we think it is so complicated and complex to understand the buying habits of a consumer. But guess what – you’re a consumer too. So are your family members, friends, employees, current customers and followers. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and think about things like “What’s the first thing I would want to see upon walking into a [business type] when I need a [product or service]?” “What words would I want to hear?” “What scents would I want to smell?” If you’re having trouble getting out of the “owner” bubble, ask your friends, family and colleagues for their opinions. Observe these kinds of subtle differences with your competition or even draw inspiration from businesses completely unlike yours.
Go a Step Further, Nurture
If you’ve effectively communicated your business to a lead, their needs are aligned with what you can offer and they are still hesitant, that lead must be nurtured. If this is your first time in “sales,” and for many small business owners it is, this can be an uncomfortable proposition. I like to think of lead nurturing efforts as friendly reminders, like the kind my wife gives me to pick up the milk after work. Actually there’s a lot to learn from this interaction that can be applied to business lead nurturing. Here are some examples of these tactics and how these might work for converting your business leads:
1. Be concerned
Wife: “Hey honey, I know you’re super busy today, just a quick reminder to pick up some milk on the way home.” Business: “Hi Dave, I know you have that grand opening event coming up and wanted to talk about how we might help you make it run as smoothly as possible.”
2. Be persistent
Wife: “Me again. You get my note about the milk?” Business: “Hi Dave, just checking in to see how you’re progressing and how we might be able to contribute to your efforts on this project.”
3. Remind of benefits
Wife: “If you want any coffee tomorrow morning, you better stop and get that milk!” Business: “Hi Dave, thanks for taking the time to chat yesterday. I’m glad we discovered that what you’re looking for is so well aligned with what we do. Really looking forward to working with you to double your sales this month.”
It is so important to take stock of how your lead conversion efforts are working and modify as necessary. Solicit feedback from both successful and unsuccessful conversions to see what you’re doing right and where there’s room for improvement. For unsuccessful conversions, ask questions like, “Did we effectively communicate how we could meet your needs?” “What caused you to choose another provider for this product/service?” For successful conversions, ask questions like, “What made you choose our business as your product/service provider?” As with most things in life, honesty about who you and your business are is the best policy. Potential customers appreciate candor and a poor fit between customer and seller will certainly come apart at the seams over time. Save yourself, your employees and your customers from major hassle in the long run by effectively communicating at all times.