Inbound Rocket

4 Rules to Convert Online Leads into Paying Customers

The 4 Rules for Converting Online Leads into Sales

One of the biggest challenges for a lot of B2B companies is generating leads. That’s why we started with Inbound Rocket in the first place, to help you as a business owner get more qualified leads from your website. But if your sales team struggles to follow-up on the leads you create as a marketer, then you’re effort are wasted.

When it comes to leads, traditional marketers would often wait for an optimum response time. However for online leads, this is a complete different story. When you get a new lead that comes from filling out a form after different page visits, those leads are still on your website and ready to start engaging. This means that these type of leads require a faster, more engaged response than a traditional lead which comes to you via offline conversions. You can easily compare these types of leads to incoming phone calls, for example, you would not let them wait for hours, would you?

In 2011, Dr. James Oldroyd performed a study called “The Short Life of Online Sales Leads”. In this study, he found that most companies are not fast enough in the way they follow-up leads. From the 2,240 companies examined, only 46% followed-up with a lead within 24 hours.

The speed in which your sales team follows up on the marketing lead is essential. A slow follow-up means losing business to a competitor whereas a quick follow up is more than likely to lead to a sale.

We’ve put together 4 easy tips to help you turn more website leads into paying customers.

#1 Don’t let them wait

Like we already mentioned in our little intro, a quick follow-up is essential. The longer you will wait the bigger the drop in interest from your potential lead and he or she might have stepped away from their desk or even worse have already moved over to your competitor.

By putting different sets of routines in place at your organisation you can make your life and that of your colleagues easier to quickly respond. For example when the email of a new arriving lead goes straight to your inbox it might be missed or overlooked in between all the other emails you’re getting. Or maybe you’re sick at home or on vacation, who will attend the incoming leads then? One option is to direct these notifications to a special inbox in your company, where multiple people can access the emails. Or maybe use special software, for example if you’re using our WordPress plugin you have a nice quick overview of all your leads and can put them into different lead lists depending on their status (responded, not responded etc.).

As you would do with incoming support requests, incoming marketing leads should be traceable and handled with speed. More and more companies are seeing the benefits of using customer service software as they implement it across several departments and not only with the customer support team.

In the study done by Dr. Oldroyd it showed that it’s better to have one member of the sales team respond immediately than to wait for the right sales member to respond later, when it might be too late. This has of course implications on how you will organise your sales team. The most important thing is to try to make the connection within the five minutes after your lead left his contact details. Try to already get some preliminary information (you can use email templates for this, which you adapt to the specific situation). Once that first connection is there, you can still have the person within your sales team most qualified for this lead take the follow-up later.

#2 Qualify the leads first

Not all leads are created equal. Somebody downloading a white paper from your websites is in a complete different part of the buyers journey than someone requesting a meeting. You won’t be closing a sale if you reach out to a lead that isn’t ready to buy yet. Worst case scenario, you might be putting him or her off because they think you’re coming on too strong.

All leads, however, have the potential to become a potential customer. Since there is only one chance for a first impression, it’s important to qualify the different leads. You can have someone from your sales team do a quick Google Search on the person or the company your lead is working for, maybe do a search in your CRM software to see any relevant data which might pop-up there.

In Inbound Rocket we keep an entire visitor history of the people before and after they converted into lead status, you can use this information to find out previous actions and to get a better understanding of their needs and problems. You can even have different contact forms end up in a different lead list to help with the automation process of identifying your leads.

#3 Keep your leads warm

Even if you follow-up within the first five minutes after someone left their contact details, that person might not be ready to move on to the next step in the buyer journey yet. They have however shown interest in your product or service, so you shouldn’t lose the opportunity to keep them warm. You could maybe ask them if they want to be added to your mailing list, this way they can be kept in the loop and you can nurture them for the moment that they are ready.

Customer delight starts already before any sales are closed. Keep your leads informed and show them that you care. This way when they are ready to move on to the next step, you will be the first thing on their minds.

#4 Keep track of your sales pipeline

Your sales pipeline gives you a unique overview over the prospects you are working with. Try keeping track of all your sales in a sales pipeline. By creating a nice dashboard, it can help you visualise your sales data with a chart. Each time during your sales meeting, you can go through the different steps of the buyer journey and the associated leads. Discuss the progress and if you regularly update your pipeline you can easily spot cases you need to focus on.

A lot of companies still use plain old excel sheets for keeping track of their sales pipeline. To have a good overview of how you’re doing and where you need to focus on be sure to include the following elements:

  • Sales target
  • Total number of leads / opportunities and their position in the buyers journey
  • Ratio of leads to sales qualified leads
  • Quote to close ratio
  • Sales lead to close ratio

In the old days, it was always thought that sales people had this natural gift and that they were born to sell. However as you can see with the approach and the right tools everyone can be better in sales. The most successful sales people are those that work in a structured and organised way.

The personal touch is of course still important, but if you’re approaching the sales process in a more structured way, keeping tack of the offers your send out, sending out follow-ups and the ability to have all information in one place like the leads history will help you a long way.

If you will use the steps outlined in this article it will help your sales team to convert those website leads and you can start growing your customer base.

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