"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 ~

Receiving That First Enquiry

Receiving That First Enquiry

I would like to pass on something really useful to each of you dealing with enquiries from potential clients . You 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 the hard way. Inbound enquiries are simply the best.

You should be making the most of these enquiries. Salaried telephone agents make it so easy for themselves with email responses. It is simply not the best way and never was. People buy people and they genuinely buy into constructive call backs. When you see an intriguing email always call it. If a company wanted an email robotic clerk they would not employ sales people. Sales, good sales, up-selling and cross selling are best done on the phone. Deep down everyone knows this.

The way so many people deal with inbound enquiries remains seriously unprofessional to me. Many people are flawed where such enquires are handled so lazily, so often and by so many. Allow me to explain my method as this will improve your conversion rate and in turn your KPIs be they weekly, or monthly. The end result is more commission for you which is what you ultimately care about, whoever you are.

Let me set the scene : You are now having a weekly check on your figures (KPIs) and you end up with a percentage success figure which you go away and try and improve for the next week. Or this is done monthly. Correct ?

Every huddle or sales meeting ends with a promise or thereabouts to improve. Whatever way the KPIs work out you can't just look at them and say or be told they need to be better. You need to take action....you need a plan to 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 around what you are doing. It's about process.

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 and agreeing you need to be better. Have a plan.

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 . Are you with me so far?

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 and the odd hours people make themselves available so you email confirmation of the enquiry. Never, ever try to sell in this email. Now, the important part is what follows.

Check with yourself how long you currently leave them 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 ? That's after you send that first email. So this is what you change. This is the one specific aspect that you change.

By all means send the email but carry on trying that number over 2 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 the most likely outcome. Never give up on an enquiry.

Try early, try late. Try every couple of hours. 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, in your opinion, but you missed the chance. This happens to all of us. That's why you need to be fully on your best game with the initial enquiry to prevent this happening. The main thing to stop is the easy life of responding to an email with a sales email. That's the bad practice you need to hound out of your working day.

The above paragraph is 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 directors. 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 we 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. The email ping-pong trap is the easiest to fall into with sales and it is generally a poor strategy.

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 a VIP for me. 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 time frame. Email if you must, but still hammer your phone for a conversation within a day or 3 at the outside. It should be a reflex action. The enquiry is your passport to getting put through.

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. So many make the mistake of thinking they will look too eager with a quick call back. Not true, it will make the sale easier. Email does not replace the power of a good call to an enquirer.

You cannot call a lead "too quickly".

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 is 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. I have many compliments on the strategy I can help with.

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 possible 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. The answer Is the phone in your hands. I hear all the emailers responding in horror. My reply remains the same as ever ; The lazy man's way forward is email.

Please don't just change your methodology for a week and then slip backwards. Backsliding to your default position at your sales desk is what 90% of salespeople people do. Get yourself into the top 10% zone.

Backsliding into old habits, old behaviour is very common unless coaching is being provided on a regular basis. As mentioned KPI meetings where everyone agrees to do "better" next month is the oldest and most redundant line in the sales manual . Implementing change in process and moving callers on your team through the gears is how you do it.

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