"An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field."

~ Physicist Niels Bohr, quoted in the Harvard Business Review ~

Making That First Call

The process outlined below will guarantee you increased conversions:

I would like to pass on something really useful to each of you dealing with enquiries from potential clients. You may know them as "inbound" enquiries. I know them as gold dust. That's because most of my career was spent earning commission payments making "outbound" calls and making a living that way.

The way so many people deal with inbound enquiries remains seriously strange to me. Many people are palpably mad where such enquires are handled so lazily, so often and by so many. Allow me to explain as this will improve your conversion rate and in turn your KPIs be they weekly, or monthly.

Let me set the scene: You are now having a weekly KPI check on your figures and you end up with a percentage figure which you go away and try and improve for next week. Or this is done monthly. Correct? Trouble is the number of leads vary each week. Some convert long after the week they were counted for etc etc. So it's in no way acceptably accurate. But it is the best system you have maybe. Or you have a truly reflective KPI figure and still you are looking to improve.

Every huddle or meeting ends with a promise or thereabouts to improve. Either way the KPIs work out you can't just look at them and say they need to be better. You need to take action...make advances to improve these figures. Just saying that KPIs will improve never cuts it. I say that again, saying something will improve will not make it happen unless you change something.

Where my help can come in is in what you do to improve. What I do for myself is also what you can do. I do it very well [my former and current clients often say] and you could do it very well. It's no good just thinking you need to be better.

You set your sights on increasing the conversions from leads/ phone enquiries . You will maybe say you do that now, but without much tangible change in what you do each day. You may well focus better on the people you speak to and well done for that.

I have a process that will guarantee you increased conversions from people you currently do not speak to. It's no good just telling the sales manager or director that you will improve unless you have a process of improvement. Correct?

The process is easy. Every day you may get leads and you may get inbound emails. The aim is to speak to them all. That's certainly not possible with bad numbers, the odd hours people make themselves available so you email a quote if you have the information. Now, the important part is what follows.

Check with yourself how long you currently leave them with the quote if you have not had the first conversation.. You don't have to tell others just yourself. This is where serious improvement can be made. My guess is that you currently leave them as long as you would leave someone you have spoken to ? So this is what you change. This is the one magic aspect that you change.

By all means send the email but carry on trying that number over two to three days. If you get hold of the enquirer then well done. However, if you don't someone else from somewhere else may step in and take that order is one likely outcome.

Try early, try late. Where you need to tell anyone who questions you that you are responding to an enquiry (so it's not a cold call). The proof of this paragraph is that when you do eventually get back to Mr Big a week or longer later without having spoken before (Just his enquiry and your email reply ) you find he has bought elsewhere. Maybe no fault of yours but you missed the chance. This happens to all of us. That's where you need to be fully on your best game to prevent this happening.

The above paragraphs are key to improving performance. Salespeople, managers and directors are all as guilty as each other in very often only half doing the follow up job. I base this on knowing hundreds, yes hundreds, of sales people, managers and so on. I have been there myself. Sometimes I am still there myself, all of us in sales get trapped in this one. The improvement I outline above is always the way to make a conscientious advance and replaces where we let ourselves off the hook. If drive ourselves to make that contact back after an inbound enquiry results over time will always be better than thinking and acting by email alone.

For me personally it will rarely happen now as I know the game and my part in it. A lead is like gold dust and I treat them all that way until that person verbally disqualifies them-self. Anyone who has gone so far as making an enquiry is gold dust. So you treat these leads accordingly and you won't go far wrong. You make a point of getting them speaking to you in the shortest possible timeframe. Email if you must, but still hammer your phone for a conversation within a day or three at the outside.

Every enquiry should be acknowledged by phone immediately you see it. That's another golden rule. You do send an email confirming receipt if you cannot speak instantly to the enquirer.

Two points I am not covering here. One is where the enquirer is not the decision maker which you don't know in advance. All the better for hammering for the conversation. The second point is I am not mentioning how you structure the call and draw people in. I naturally reserve that for those I am working with. It varies from case to case. I do usually manage to nail the process for clients that results in a higher percentage of enquirers going for the next step.

The bullet point in this blog is that whilst you may have to email some people through necessity it's very important to get that conversation with them in the quickest time. Please don't leave them alone by thinking they will naturally call you following your email. You have to persevere as explained above.

When implemented for all call backs and contacts this is the surest way of increasing conversions, making advances and lessening the likelihood of the potential client going elsewhere.

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