Converting leads into customers is perhaps the most important part of the inbound methodology. It’s the stage where someone provides you with their information in exchange for a service you’ve offered them. This exchange of information will kickstart what you hope will become a long-lasting business relationship. Converting a lead is easier said than done, however. Without a clear plan of action, you might miss out on valuable leads. But with the right tools at the ready, you can make sure that each lead conversion is the first step in a mutually beneficial relationship between buyer and seller.
1) Ask the Right Questions
The first step in generating, and then converting good leads is to ask the right questions. If your questions are too broad, you may generate a lot of leads, but the percentage of those that are valuable, qualified leads will be far less than you want. If you ask too many questions, your visitors may ignore you entirely. The key is knowing what questions to ask and how many to ask in order to find and convert valuable leads.
You’ll be asking your leads questions in multiple places, such as in sales calls. But typically, you’ll ask your first question when the lead is ready to convert on a form or a landing page.
You have a number of options to choose from when deciding what questions to use on your landing page. The trick is knowing which ones—usually 2-4 choice questions are best—to use in order to attract and segment the best leads. Some of your options are:
Name (first and last)
Contact information (usually an email address or phone number)
Demographic data (age, gender, etc.)
Area of employment (job title, industry)
Geographic data (where do they live?)
Challenge (what do they need help with?)
There’s more variety than this, of course, but remember, when it comes to finding good leads, you want your questions to be as simple as possible, but specific enough to help you segment the leads into buyer personas that will make it easier for you to pursue them further.
For example, if you’re a local business, then you’ll want leads who live near you, so asking for a general location will help you segment your leads geographically, ultimately helping you better follow up with them later.
2) Choose Quality Over Quantity
Asking the right questions is the first step in ensuring you convert quality leads. While it can be tempting to amass as many leads as possible, you’ll be better off with a smaller, but more engaged, population of leads.
This doesn’t have to take the form of a practical action, but rather, should reflect a mindset you adopt as you segment and follow up with the leads you’ve generated.
Don’t be afraid of letting a lead go if you don’t think your solutions are a good fit for their problems. Time is a valuable commodity for you and your leads, so work with people and help them find a solution that meets their needs.
3) Take Advantage of Lead Scoring
Lead scoring can be a difficult concept to pin down, so take advantage of HubSpot’s helpful definition to get you started. They say that “lead scoring is a methodology used to rank prospects against a scale that represents the perceived value each lead represents to the organization.”
Some key benefits of using lead scoring include:
More effective marketing efforts
More effective sales efforts
Better return-on-investment (ROI)
With that in mind, you can see how this ties into the mentality of “quality over quantity.” Where one is a mentality, the other is a practical tool you can employ to ensure that your leads are valuable and of the highest quality.
When you set up a good lead scoring system, all the information a lead gives you on a form will be scored and assessed so you can get a snapshot of where a lead ranks on the scale you designed. This way, you can know who to follow up with first and have more data to use in your pursuit of successful lead conversions.
4) Use Customer Preferred Communication Channels
This is a simple step, but one that can go a long way towards improving your customer relations. When you ask a lead how they prefer to be contacted (email, cell phone, etc.), and then follow up via their preferred method, you show them that you’re willing to listen and meet them where they’re at. When first impressions are always important in establishing strong, lasting relationships, this can be a great strategy to utilize.
5) Diagnose the Problem
When you’re following up with a lead, that person should already be in the awareness stage of their buyer’s journey, and thus aware of a problem that they want to be solved. If they’ve given you their information - converting them into a lead - then they’re interested in hearing what kind of solution you can provide them with.
However, you still need to diagnose their problem. If you assume they’re looking for one solution when they’re really looking for another, then your communication will quickly break down and lead to confusion at best and frustration at worst. Listen to the lead, ask them questions about their problem, and then be explicit in your diagnosis of that problem. Again, your buyer personas will be a great asset here, as they’ll allow you to send the most relevant kinds of content to the people who will find the most value in it.
6) Highlight Testimonials
After that first contact has been made, and you’ve successfully offered a solution, the sales process can begin. Don’t be too aggressive though. You want to let your brand and products speak for themselves. When you highlight how well others have received your products or services, you implicitly advertise your trustworthiness without needing to actually pitch anything.
You can utilize testimonials at every stage of the inbound methodology, as it’s a great tool to attract visitors, nurture leads, and delight customers. Testimonials are some of the most effective tools at attracting potential customers and converting leads. According to Nielsen Research, 70% of people will trust a recommendation, even if they don’t know the person who provided the recommendation.
If you have a satisfied customer, send them a survey asking for a simple review of the services you provided. The more of these you can gather, the more effective you’ll be at converting leads into customers.
7) Always Follow Up
This one should be obvious, but you’d be surprised how often it can be overlooked. Following up with a lead is arguably the single most important step you can take when trying to secure a conversion. Once someone offers you their information, follow up with them as soon as possible.
The quicker you can make contact, the quicker you can diagnose their problem, propose a solution, and ultimately build a relationship that should lead to a successful conversion. Following up doesn’t always have to be directly about selling either.
One of the best ways to make sure you never miss a chance to follow-up with someone is to take advantage of a workflow. According to HubSpot’s definition, “a workflow is an automated set of marketing and/or sales actions that execute based on a starting condition.” That starting condition, in most cases, is when a visitor becomes a lead, and thus begins their buyer’s journey in earnest.
With workflows, you can automate your lead nurturing activities so a lead is reached out to desired intervals, and depending on the kind of automation you use, it’s even possible to use branching logic in order to curate the way a workflow communicates with a contact based on how they’ve previously interacted with your website and content.
Following up with a lead can be as simple as thanking them for sharing their information or sending them a blog post you think they’d find valuable. There’s no golden rule here, but consistency, as always, is key.
The more familiar a lead is with you and your service, the more likely they are to accept the solutions you can offer.