How best to convert sales leads? This is a big topic, and there are many aspects to it.
However, in this post we're going to concentrate on just one small, but important, aspect of the process - how flicking a switch in your head can hugely improve your conversion rate.
Think before you speak
It's exciting to get a hot lead â someone who has requested more information about your product or service.
And it's important to get back to people quickly, a host of reports underline the extent to which hot leads cool off the longer you take to respond to follow up. But it's essential you get your head on straight before you make that call.
What do I mean by that?
You need to remember that when today's buyers ask for more information they are not entirely ignorant - they have, almost certainly, already done a lot of research.
We are the ones who ask the questions!
This means that before launching into a sales pitch about the remarkable features and benefits of your products and services you need to establish exactly what they know already = you need to find out, immediately, what they don't know, what they want to know and why that's so important to them. In other words you need to home in on the heart of the prospect's problem, concerns, desires, fears and limits - if you start on your sales story before you have this stuff clear in your mind it's unlikely you'll say all the things they want to hear.
To achieve this it helps to think of an onion.
You have to peel away the layers, one by one, until you get to 'the heart of the matter'.
And the way to do this is not by telling or selling (this comes later) but by asking questions. You'll start by asking a very generalised question such as 'What kind of information are you looking for?'
Then, and this is crucial, listen very carefully. When they have finished, the next question (a more specific one, such as 'why is that important to you?') should suggest itself to you, and you can peel away another layer. Sometimes, however, you may feel they are reluctant to reveal something - at this moment say something like 'that's interesting, tell me more about that.'
After you have peeled away about three layers you'll almost certainly have discovered what they are really looking for.
Only now are you ready to start constructing an appropriate sales story - one that is going to press the right buttons.
Focus on them first - it works!
There's another crucial reason for starting out by asking questions - it makes you more likeable, and people are more inclined to buy from those who make them feel good. In his classic book 'How to win friends and influence people' Dale Carnegie spelt out the fact that people are really only interested in themselves.
Talk about them and they'll love you, talk about yourself and you'll turn them off. To put it another way 'People don't care what you know until they know that you care'.
By asking lots of questions, and demonstrating that you are truly listening, you show a truly caring attitude.
Only when you have done this are they going to be receptive to the information you are keen to share with them.
Patience pays huge dividends
Most sales people make the classic mistake of launching into their sales pitch too early.
Talking about yourself, and what you offer, before demonstrating a genuine interest in the prospect, and before you are clear on what they want to hear, is a certain short cut to failure.
You have to consciously flick a mental switch: from thinking and talking about yourself to thinking and talking about them.