It is easier to collect a lead than it is to close a sale. Even a potential customer who isn’t 100% ready to place an order can most likely be persuaded to give you their e-mail address or phone number.  While leads are certainly valuable, it’s important to remember that they are not the final goal. In order for leads to really mean anything, a good percentage of them need to be converted to customers. This is an entire process itself and one every business owner should become familiar with.

Customers have never had more choices of who to buy from than they do today. In nearly every market, there are at least 3-5 respected competitors (if not more). In order to convert your leads into buying customers, it’s not enough to be “part of the herd.” To truly catch the attention of your potential customers, you have to stand out in a meaningful and obvious way.

Once you have developed a lead process and lead management system, the next question is… How are you going to convert those leads into customers? A potential customer is someone that looks at your product, service or offering. Customers are people that actually buy from you.  So, what are your steps for what you will do and say to your potential customers that will convert them into buying customers? What is your conversion strategy?

A great example is a retail store owner who has lots of customers coming into the store attracted by their advertising (lead generation strategy). A conversion strategy is to greet the potential customer when they walk in with, “May I help you?

After a while, you’ll discover that nearly all potential customers respond to this strategy with, “No thanks. I’m just looking.” This is not new news as half the retailers in the world haven’t worked this out yet!

When you measure how effective the above strategy is, you’ll find that only 10 out of 100 potential customers buy something from you. You then decide to change what you’re doing.

Instead of asking, “May I help you?" you ask, “Have you been in our store before?” If the answer is “No,” you then have an opportunity to show them around the store. If the answer is “Yes,” you say, “I thought I recognized you!” and continue with “would you like me to show you what’s new in our store or would you like to look at something in particular today?

This time, you will see your measurement of results move from approximately 10 people in every 100 buying from you to 16 in every 100. Now that’s a measurable 60% increase in your conversion rate! This example emphasizes that what you say to your potential customers has a significant effect on your business AND that means a significant effect on your profits!

The next step is to build a conversion strategy. Your success depends on your ability to turn Shoppers into Buyers. You can do this with the approach “What can I do to help this person in their business succeed?” Developing your conversion strategy based on this premise is a win-win for both the customer and you.

You should reflect a genuine interest in helping your potential customers.  This may be as simple as pointing them to a downloadable whitepaper or article to help them in their own business or giving them some of your hard earned knowledge based on your experience in business. Contribute valuable content in all that you say and watch your business become stable and profitable.

Follow Up With Each Lead

One of the most valuable components of turning leads into customers is your follow-up process. Never assume that someone will decide they’re ready to buy and pick up the phone by themselves. Even though this may happen, your best chances of converting leads is by proactively following up with each one.

A system or a process for following up with people who give you their information – and reinforcing your sales message – is an absolute must. Without it, you will always be leaving money on the table.

About the Author(s)

DJ Heckes

DJ is CEO of EXHIB-IT! Tradeshow Marketing Experts and Full BRAIN Marketing and focuses on educating and training companies to significantly improve their small business marketing strategies.  She also presents customized training programs for business marketing, social media, leadership and trade show marketing.

CEO & Author, EXHIB-IT!