By Chase Hughes
Many companies are focused on how to acquire leads at a competitive cost, so much that they may often pass over the importance of the expense of converting them. Sales funnel optimization mostly concentrates around promotional channels with ad copy, pay-per-click campaigns, and SEO. Split-testing an email marketing campaign, sales copy, and other retention strategies of sometimes considered less important. This article seeks to shed insight on what some companies are doing in order effectively convert inbound leads at a low cost.
- Split-Test Sales Scripts. Many inbound sales professionals are given free reign when handling clients. This can be an advantage if you have a team capable of dynamically closing a lead under any situation. However, many companies cannot afford to hire an inbound sales team that have those characteristics. Split-testing sales scripts means creating multiple scripts for each lead and then testing it in order to discover the one with the highest conversion rates. Many companies already have multiple sales scripts, but do not continue to split-test them on an ongoing basis. This is important because in some cases, the difference in a single sentence or phrase can alter the conversion rate.
- Acquire More Contact Information. This is where a tradeoff exists between lead generation and conversion optimization. For instance, a customer may be more likely to complete a contact form that only asks for an Email. However, your sales team may want to know a lot of information such as their location or phone number. The longer your contact form is, the lower your lead generation rates will be. Therefore, it can be advantageous to measure the impact of how one affects the other and the bottom-line impact that it has on conversion rates. At the very least, the sales team should be in communication with the promotional team in order to communicate what information is required from leads.
- Analyze Contact Schedules. Unless you are an outlier, you’ve probably experienced the wrong end of an email blast or cold call at the most inconvenient time. I remember once receiving an Email list on a Saturday afternoon and a sales calls at strange hours of the night. While common sense times are simple to focus around, try to optimize it at a more detailed level. Identify what time works best to contact your specific audience by analyzing the conversion rates of Email lists sent at various days and times within a given week. Have your sales team record what time they call and the respective conversion rates.
- Establish a Reporting System. Many of the errors made when attempting to increase lead conversion rates start from poor reporting. Management cannot form decisions when the information has been reported incorrectly, or not at all. Sales teams may alter their numbers in order to look more effective, information that is verbally communicated may be distorted, and measuring the wrong things is simply a waste of time. There are many vanity metrics that your company may apply in order to show investors or team members, but these may not truly provide the insights needed to acquire conversions. Therefore, take special care when establishing a custom reporting system for your specific company. Identify what needs to be tracked and organize a system of measuring it consistently and effectively.
- Setup Sales Performance Goals. If you have two separate teams working on lead acquisition and lead conversion, they both have conflicting interests. The lead acquisition person wants to acquire as many leads as possible in order to make it look like they’re doing a good job. However, quality can be very different than quantity, and not every manager recognizes this fact. If you are gaining a high number of leads that are difficult to convert, consider altering the compensation structure to focus on customer acquisition rather than just leads. This makes your promotional team more motivated to focus on acquiring customers, rather than just leads, and engaging your inbound sales team.
When running any marketing campaign, one should always consider the holistic pipeline. It is very easy to focus on lead acquisition and leave the conversion process up to the sales team. However, teams should coordinate across the funnel with tied incentives and information sharing. For instance, at Pro Business Plans, we have weekly conference calls between the business development and marketing personnel to discuss performance metrics. I believe these calls to be a major advantage in our ability to convert leads into loyal customers, as they have adjusted our promotional campaigns. We have directly applied several of these techniques and hope that they are equally as successful for your business as it has been for ours.
Chase Hughes is the founder of Pro Business Plans, a business plan consulting firm based in New York City. The company works with entrepreneurs to prepare professional business plans for investment, immigration, and strategy. @ProBPlans.