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6 Tips for Converting Leads Into Clients

6 Tips for Converting Leads Into Clients
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In Ultimate Guide to Local Business Marketing, Google AdWords expert Perry Marshall and lead generation expert Talor Zamir introduce you to the basic framework behind a successful local marketing campaign. In this edited excerpt, Marshall and Zamir offer 6 ideas for turning prospects into customers.

While using Google AdWords successfully can make the phone ring, it’s up to you to convert those leads into clients. Unlike in ecommerce where the entire transaction takes place on the website, for local businesses, human interaction is required to close the deal.

These six tips can help you turn those online leads into brick-and-mortar prospects:

1. Don’t let calls go to voicemail.

This is a cardinal rule if you’re spending any money on advertising and marketing. You must not let calls go to voicemail! One of the biggest problems we see is when calls come in and nobody answers, so the call goes to voicemail or the caller is put on hold for two or three minutes.

The fact is, you don’t have an existing relationship with most people who click on your ads. This is cold traffic, and if they call and get your voicemail, most people won’t leave a voicemail. They’ll just hang up and call the advertiser in the next ad.

The same is true if you put them on hold for three minutes. They’re still sitting in front of their computer or on their mobile phone, and the temptation to just hang up and call the next person is overwhelming. Make sure you’re equipped to handle the calls and you have a system in place to do it well.

One of our clients, a dentist, uses a call center so she has a live person answering the phone 24/7. The call center is even able to schedule appointments for her. Using a call center will let you run ads all day with the confidence that any call will be answered by a live person, which will lead to higher conversion rates.

2. Hire mystery shoppers.

The acid test for your phone crew is mystery shopping. To put this to work, have someone call your business and play prospect. Make sure the mystery shopper knows how to act like your customer. Record every call. Many entrepreneurs are appalled when they find out what’s actually going on when a customer calls their business.

The thing is, you founded your business, and poured your blood, sweat, and tears into it. You know it costs $90 just to make that phone ring, and you’ve spent months building advertising systems and making mistakes. You can’t imagine someone screwing all that up and letting a customer go down the drain.

But your employees aren’t you. It’s not their $90 -- it’s yours. It’s not their blood, sweat, and tears -- it’s yours. They have no skin in the game, so they’re lackadaisical.

Quality control is crucial. Hire that mystery shopper and monitor what goes on. Make it known that at all times, calls are being recorded and any call may be monitored. Performance and raises should be judged by how well customers get treated on the phone.

3. Invest in sales training.

Even if it’s not be in their official job description, everyone who answers the phone in your office is a salesperson. They should have a basic understanding of sales and how to properly handle incoming calls professionally.

At the very least, buy the people who answer the phone in your office a book or two on sales. Even better is to invest in a course or even hire a sales trainer to come in and work with them. This investment can pay huge dividends down the road.

4. Use systems and scripts.

Whether those answering your phones have sales training or not, it’s a good idea to have systems in place so calls are consistently handled the way you want -- no matter who answers the phone.

In most cases, you don’t want your employees winging it too much on the phone, so giving everyone a script can be helpful. Richard Jacobs, owner of Speakeasy Marketing, a firm that specializes in marketing for attorneys, has his clients’ employees use this effective script:

“Oh, Mr. Jacobs isn’t at the phone right now, but he wants to make sure he talks to you, so let me get his calendar. I see he’s available this Thursday at 11 a.m. or 2:30 p.m. and Friday between 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. If you get your calendar out right now, let’s schedule a time when it’s good for you.”

This script makes the person calling feel important, which will give them a good feeling about your company and doing business with you. Even more important, it sets an appointment on the spot and gets that initial commitment from your prospect right then and there.

5. Always get contact information.

Whoever answers your phone should take down every caller’s contact information, including their email address. If you don’t have their contact information, you have no way to follow up with them and the lead will go to waste.

6. Use email marketing.

When you get your prospects’ email address, you should have some sort of system where you can send out emails at least on a weekly or monthly basis to your email database on a system like MailChimp, iContact, or any other email service provider.

There are no shortage of things you can send. Maybe you have some sort of sale or special promotion going on that you could share. Or maybe it’s just a great story about one of your customers. You could send them a video, which will help develop a closer bond between you and your potential customers. You could also send a good article you’ve written or a helpful tip. Basically send things that will keep you in front of them regularly and continue to build a relationship with them, which can help generate more business and referrals in the future. If you’re not using email marketing and email follow up, you’re leaving a ton of money on the table.