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How to Maximize Your Online Sales Leads Not all web based leads are created equally, here's how to find the best and quickly close them.

By Chris Smith Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Eighty percent of sales are executed by just 8 percent of salespeople. This doesn't mean that there are some killer sales reps out there who are simply better wired at bringing home the bacon, it means most sales teams are failing to execute because we officially live in a new hyper connected, fast paced and digital-first world.

A connected world means there are a myriad of channels for businesses to connect with their customers. In opening the floodgates, many mistake a wide sweep as an effective lead generation strategy. Unfortunately, the bulk are wrong and navigating the digital sale requires a blueprint. The average B2B lead to closed deal conversion rate is actually less than one percent -- and takes over 100 days, according to Implisit. This means the vast majority of leads take a lot of time to nurture, but still go nowhere.

The silver-lining is that all these failed attempts give us a wealth of data, showing us clearly what not to do. There is a science to lead conversion, the cold-call will no longer cut it. So, how can you master lead conversion, and how can you use technology as an asset to cut through all this noise to improve your lead to sale conversion rate?

Related: 3 Steps to Qualify a Sales Lead

Understand the online business lead.

Don't be fooled, although there are many great ways of reaching your customers online -- email marketing, ad re-targeting, a plethora of social media platforms -- your competitors know about them too. As a result the average consumer is bombarded with information. One estimate puts this at 5,000 ads for every person each day!

People actually used to watch those two-minute television commercial breaks. Thinking about wading through those commercials today it sounds almost painful. The most worn out button on my remote control is the fast forward button. We are all surrounded by such a flux of distractions that holding a person's attention, and actually evoking some form of enthusiasm, can be a challenge. It is important to tailor your content, and to remember what a lead really is.

A Facebook Like -- or a love, a wow, or a haha -- is not a lead. An email newsletter subscriber or new Twitter follower doesn't mean someone wants to purchase your service. It simply means you reached a person, and you may have whet their appetite. This is still important, but these people are not asking for extra information about your product and a cold sale attempt could actually leave a bitter taste.

A real sales lead, from a prospective customer is the provision of accurate contact information -- name, phone, email or such -- that says a person is interested in your product and wants to hear or learn more. You can use "big data" created by the software I mention below to identify what your customer wants by understanding their online behavior. This allows you to personalize and refine your approach over the phone or by email and SMS.

Technology is your friend.

We have come a long way from the days of an automated reminder. Today emails, texts and even targeted ads can be used as a part of your follow-up and using behavioral data can create a "choose your own adventure" experience for your customers. Every next stage in the customer journey should be a tactical step selected for that individual, and defined by all the information they have already given you.

Every potential customer is unique and these tools can let you identify the needles in the haystack -- as opposed to a one-size-fits-all email blast that will forever exile you to the junk folder.

Tracking software such as Woopra, Mixpanel, and Intercom lets businesses identify who from your database is visiting your website and exactly what pages they are frequenting most. Using Mixpanel, Airbnb was able to identify where in the online journey their users posting first-time listings were dropping off -- ultimately driving five times the conversion rate by making changes based on more than their gut or instincts.

Who opened your emails, who clicked on your emails, and who is visiting your website. This is information you need to know and you should let this guide your follow up efforts. If someone has shown interest in a specific area of your website you can tailor your follow-up. For example, if they spent time reading your testimonials page, these tools can follow up with personalized email notifications or push alerts sharing more testimonials.

42 percent of marketers do not segment their email campaigns -- but the tools exist to let you easily customize emails, so why would you not? Use this to tailor your approach, hook your customer's attention and then make your move.

Related: How Airbnb and Dropbox Achieved Tremendous Growth With Referral Marketing

Nailing the sales call.

Technology is important to help you turn new and old leads into instant appointments, but having the right salespeople is much more vital. A powerful closer, following up with a genuine lead and making a hyper personalized and well scripted call at the right moment is vital.

According to a study in Harvard Business Review, just 37 percent of companies respond to their online leads within an hour. Another study revealed that 47 percent of leads never get a response. This goes some way to explaining why so many leads end up dead in the water.

Gaspar Noe said, "Time destroys all things." When it comes to following up on a hot lead he's spot on. If a company phones a contact within five minutes of submission they are 100 times more likely to reach this person than if they reach out after 30 minutes. And after 20 hours every additional dial will actually hurt your chances of qualifying a lead.

The key is speed, tenacity and scripting or what I call STS selling. Call quickly, call often and know what you are going to say before you say it. On the phone, you lose the advantage of physical presence and the element of body language that is so crucial to human communication. This makes your tone and content (words) all the more valuable.

Related: 8 Steps to a Successful Sales Call

The Internet era has meant a paradigm shift for salespeople. Technology has overtaken us, to the extent that failure to correctly understand it means an innately human profession has become overrun with too much automation. In an ideal world a business would use marketing to plant the seed, inside sales to create the appointment and a killer sales rep to close the deal. Not all companies can afford to split these departments, but this in no way means you shouldn't strategize your approach for each step.

Using the best tools and tactics you can create a blueprint for Internet lead conversion success. If you point your sales team in the right direction, quickly, you will turn web leads into a massive acquisition channel.
Chris Smith

Author of The Conversion Code and Co-founder of Curaytor

Chris Smith is co-founder of Curaytor and the author of The Conversion Code, teaching readers how to capture internet leads, effectively speak with clients, and close as many sales as possible.

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