Five Steps to Turn More Leads into Sales

Almost every organization has horror stories about the number of leads languishing in remote corners of their IT system. Companies waste tens of thousands of pounds every year acquiring these leads and following up on them once or twice before ejecting them into some kind of lead purgatory where they remain in an endless state of limbo. To help companies break this unproductive habit and start turning more of their leads into sales, their needs to be created the following five-step process:

1. Define a quality lead

To generate high-quality leads you need to start with a clear definition of what a quality lead looks like. To do this, take a hard look at your best customers. What makes them a great fit for your company? What size are they? What do they do? How do they do it? What business challenges do they face? What’s going on in their industry? The more specific the definition, the easier it will be to create marketing activities targeted to similar customers meeting similar criteria.

2. Develop a lead follow-up process

Create a step-by-step, well-defined follow-up process for your incoming leads, then make sure everyone follows this process every time. When defining your process, avoid the three most common errors:

  1. Failing to write down the process;
  2. Starting the process at the point where the prospect has an active interest while ignoring the entire process of cultivating a potential long-term sale;
  3. Basing the process on sales actions rather than on the customer’s position in his buying cycle.

3. Create a long-term plan for leads

Accept that 90 percent of your leads will not have an immediate project and have an action plan that cultivates them through the sales funnel. Otherwise, you’ll lose out on future sales. The long-term plan should include regular – but not too frequent – calls, mailings and/or emails to ensure your organization never loses track of or falls out of touch with your non-immediate sales opportunities.

4. Create a separate department to cultivate long-term leads

Sales reps, whose job requires them to close sales and hit quotas, are not the best people to spend time with opportunities that won’t be ready to buy for six months or a year or more. Thus managers should create a separate team to execute the processes created to nurture a lead before that lead is ready to buy. This team should work with and ‘own’ every lead until an immediate need is defined, whether this takes a day or a year. Only then, pass the qualified opportunity to the sales person to consult and close. This will keep your sales team productive and effective while ensuring no leads fall through the cracks.

5. Track your leads

Put a system in place to track every lead all the way through the funnel to the final sale. Make this system available to everyone in your organization to use and update. Doing so will enable you to make better decisions, head off potential problems before they ever become problems, and show whether your lead generation investments are paying off.