Lead generation is the lifeblood of all successful businesses. Without leads, you have no customers, and without customers, you have no revenue. But how many of them convert to sales? One out of 10? One out of a hundred? What if you could make that rate more like 95%?
The average conversion rate for closing leads depends on many factors, including your acquisition channel. In the graphic below, check out the average conversion rates (measuring the leap from lead to opportunity, a.k.a. making a sale) based on various channels.
From this, we see that referral (word-of-mouth), partner, content, and paid marketing have the best conversion rates—all well above the average.
But, what if we told you that you can close (convert) 95% of your leads? Sounds impossible, right?
Not if you’re attempting to convert only qualified leads. Gary Tramer of LeadChat shared with us his airtight process for closing leads, and his secret is in making sure you’re working to convert the right people. Check out the infographic below to see how, plus additional detail below.
Want to display this infographic on your site?
Embed this infographic into your website pages by copying and pasting the code below:
Qualifying Your Leads
To property qualify a lead, you need to refine its meaning.
According to Marketo, a lead is defined as, “a qualified prospect that is starting to exhibit buying behavior.” What you need to question, though, is what constitutes buying behavior.
The first step of qualifying a lead is to remove those who aren’t a good fit for your product or service. Just because someone has expressed interest in your business (by joining your email list, downloading a content offer, signing up for a webinar), it doesn’t mean he or she intends to make a purchase decision.
Before qualifying a lead, ask yourself these questions:
Are they the Decision-Maker?
Due to the nature of inbound sales, it’s wise to know who you’re dealing with when reaching out to leads. Not everyone has the authority to call the shots, regardless of how interested they are in your product.
Sales prospects are generally categorized in three ways: the Gatekeeper, the Recommender, and the Decision-Maker:
- The Gatekeeper is typically the one to make the first move, by filling out your contact form or engaging you in another way. They may exaggerate their authority, or they may have simply been tasked with initial research and information-gathering. Regardless, they’re the least likely to close on a decision.
- The Recommender is probably a lower-level employee, but they’re the ones who’ll benefit most from your product or service. They may not hold the power of the Decision-Maker, but they will be directly affected by the purchase.
- The Decision-Maker, given their authority in making decisions, is most likely an upper-level employee. Given their busy schedule, they may have tasked a lower-level employee with initial research. Regardless, they call the shots and will probably be closing the deal.
To qualify your lead, ensure that they are, in fact, the Decision-Maker in their organization. It may be enticing to move forward with a Recommender who promises they can influence their Decision-Maker, but they shouldn’t be qualified as a viable lead until you reach the Decision-Maker.
Do they have the intention to buy, or are they just researching?
Even if a lead displays intentional buying behavior, you can’t be sure where they are in the purchase decision process. Have they just heard about your business and are digging around for more? Are they researching various solutions? Are they a competitor building a competitive analysis?
Truth is, not every lead you gather is serious about taking the next step. Your qualified leads should only consist of those who desire to make a purchase. Interest in your product is only half of the equation; intention is the other.
Do they acknowledge that you can solve their problem at some point?
Making a sale isn’t simply selling a product; it’s also selling the solution that your product supplies. Your prospect may acknowledge how great your product is, but if they haven’t wrapped their minds about the solution you provide, they aren’t fully invested.
Qualified leads fully understand the solution your product or service provides. Anyone else isn’t in the right place, mentally or emotionally, to make a purchase decision.
If you answered “No” or “I’m not sure” to any of these, you should remove that person from your list of qualified leads. According to this model, they’re no longer a qualified lead. It may be a grueling elimination, but it’ll be worth it once you convert the majority of who’s left.
Studying Your Leads
Now, with the remaining leads, do the following:
- Look at your past customers who have closed the fastest. What characteristics do they share?
- Look at your customers who you’ve retained the longest. What similarities do they have?
- Look at the customers who’ve brought you the highest revenue. What sets them apart from the rest?
Take the characteristics, demographics, similarities, and habits that these customers share. This is your Sweet Spot.
Your Sweet Spot is good. Your Sweet Spot is profitable. Your Sweet Spot is where you live.
Focus your sales calls on leads that fall within your Sweet Spot. Find and target customers that hit your Sweet Spot.
You’ve qualified and studied your leads. Now what?
It’s time to hit ‘em up!
When a lead arrives in your inbox, attempt to contact them by phone within 10 minutes. If you cannot get through to them, send an email 30 minutes later.
After reaching out to your leads, you may receive some emails or phone calls from those interested in a demo and sales call. Start the follow-up process immediately.
If they don’t respond right away, call them three times the first day. After that, call or email them every other day for the following month.
Consistency is key when closing a lead.
The number of leads you close on the sixth or seventh attempt is sometimes more than the first. Don’t write off your leads—regardless of how qualified—if they don’t respond or show immediate interest in a demo or sales call.
Most people, especially Decision-Makers are very busy. Staying in touch and reminding them that you’re there to help can do wonders for a busy brain.
The conversion process to close leads can seem daunting, especially given some of the daunting numbers discussed above. If you’re feeling pressure from your low conversion rate, take a moment and reevaluate your lead qualification process. Looking at your leads through a different lens can help you work smarter, not harder.
How have you qualified your leads? Do you ask yourself any other questions when qualifying and studying your leads? How do you connect and follow up with your leads and prospects? Tell us in the comments below!