U.S. businesses spend billions of dollars generating sales leads only to lose more than 70 percent of them simply because they don’t make contact quickly enough, according to one study. But that’s not the only way they’re losing out on opportunities.
A study of more than 600 companies by Dr. James Oldroyd of MIT found that the odds of a lead entering the sales process were 21 times greater if the business made contact within five minutes of generating the lead versus contact in 30 minutes. Another study, this one by the Harvard Business Review, found that the average response time by businesses to a generated lead is 42 hours – and that’s just for responses that occurred within 30 days.
Generating sales leads is big business, with more than $23 billion spent on Internet leads alone.
If you’re a financial advisor or another professional, you may also be spending money on direct mail, invitations to seminars, TV commercials and/or print ads. How many leads are you generating, and at what cost per lead, only to lose them?
I began developing innovative marketing strategies while working as a financial advisor, and I’ve found four ways professionals commonly lose sales leads. The good news is, they can all be fixed.
1. Advertising calls to action that are all-or-nothing. Most sales people offer only a face-to-face meeting or a telephone appointment as their call to action in their advertising. But that’s asking a lot of prospects who are simply exploring options and aren’t yet ready for that level of commitment. Those are leads that, three to six months from now, may become sales – but they’re lost early in the process. Instead, offer a less committed option such as “download this free report” in exchange for their information for follow up.
2. No lead capture on your website. This is a huge problem. Many sites have no strategy for capturing information about visitors to the site, such as an email address. As a result, businesses spend thousands of dollars driving traffic to their website, but capturing none of the prospects’ information. As a result, those prospects come to the site and leave and the business never knows they were there. A free report, series of reports or videos with useful information based on your expertise are good lead-capture tools. Buyers today turn to the web for information while doing research, so that’s what you should give them. Offering free resources in exchange for a small bit of information is a great way to do that.
3. Indifference in interactions. No matter what your profession, it’s likely you’ve got a lot of competition. For consumers, shopping includes researching, and they’re comparing services, expertise and experience before deciding who best deserves their patronage. If your interactions with prospects fail to “wow” them, they will quickly move on. But most professionals don’t have a storyboarded plan for giving prospects that experience, which is what is needed for consistent results. An automated system that delivers carefully planned interactions is a great way to achieve this.
4. Using social media without a plan. Many professionals have discovered that delivering consumer-friendly, useful content through social media is an effective means of attracting followers and cultivating prospects. However, one of the biggest problems with how businesses use social media is that they post a lot of high-level, one-way communication with no call to action. Having a call to action in your posts leading prospects back to a website designed to capture leads is critical for producing tangible results through social media.
A lot of these issues stem from a common problem: businesses focusing only on the hottest leads – the people who are ready to buy today.
Instead of allowing those “cooler” leads to fall by the wayside, businesses should capture and cultivate them. Eventually, they’ll find that instead of constantly chasing leads, they’re harvesting new clients.
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