Written by: Richard Fong
Published on October 28, 2014
Published on October 28, 2014
You’ve designed a beautiful website, filled it with engaging and interesting content and optimized it for search. The traffic is starting to come in and people are leaving inquiries using your lead capture forms.
For many companies, a successful online lead generation campaign can leave them with more questions than answers. The biggest (and most important) question that newly in-demand companies as when flooded with sales: “Now what?”
Knowing how to respond to an online sales inquiry can be difficult, especially if your business is used to the slower offline sales process. Luckily, it’s very possible with a few changes to your strategy and new tactics for responding to prospects.
The longer you take to a respond to an inquiry from a prospect, the less likely they are to choose your business. Remember that you may not be the only business that your prospect has contacted – they may also be talking to your competitors.
Responding to sales leads and inquiries quickly puts your company in the mind of your prospect and shows them that you’re interested. It also demonstrates a quick turnaround and response rate – something that every type of customer values.
Not convinced of the benefits of responding to leads quickly? According to online marketing software company Hubspot – which, in this case, sourced its data from the Harvard Business Review – following up quickly increases your success rate.
In fact, it increases your success rate by a factor of seven. Sending a response (even if it doesn’t contain a detailed quote) within one hour of receiving an inquiry gives you a 700% increase in the likelihood of earning a prospect’s business.
That’s a number that any business – even those that rarely focus on digital sales and lead generation – can see the value in. Respond to sales leads and inquiries as fast as possible; it could septuple your conversion rate.
It’s tempting to respond to all leads and inquiries using a premade template. While this is a great way to save time when dealing with prospects, it can also occasionally make your business come off as impersonal and unfocused on its customers.
Strike a balance between automation and personal attention by using templates and auto-responders to simplify email, but customizing them to suit your prospect. With a few tweaks, your automated emails can look and feel far more natural.
Start by including the prospect’s name in your automated follow-up email. After the prospect has received your confirmation email and knows you’re working on their response, use personal language frequently to show that you care about them.
Address the points they raised in their inquiry, offer a customized quote or solution and don’t be afraid to ask them more questions. Form emails are very useful if you need to confirm receipt of an inquiry, but hugely unsuitable for follow-up emails.
Is your sales team tired of writing out the same sentences again and again, all with slight differences? Text expansion software, such as Texter for Windows and Text Expander for Mac, make typing custom quote emails far less time consuming.
Sometimes, inquiries from prospects that seem exceptionally eager to work with you can go cold and become dormant. Don’t think of these as dead leads – they’re certainly not – but as temporarily inactive leads that can easily be reignited.
The B2B sales process takes time, even online. In fact, since your competitors are often easy to reach online, the digital B2B sales process can often more at an even slower pace than its offline equivalent.
Be patient and give your prospects several days to respond to quotes and questions from your sales team. If they haven’t returned an email within two business days – and a response is clearly expected – follow up with a polite reminder.
While it’s important not to be pushy, getting back in touch with prospects that seem to have gone cold will pay off for your business. Sometimes, even the most eager of prospects need a small nudge and reminder to move forward with a potential deal.
Every deal that you close over your website – whether it’s a small one-off project or a long-term recurring sale – has a lesson. It could be a lesson in persuasion, a lesson in persistence or simply a lesson in optimizing for a certain type of customer.
When you close a deal online, think about the techniques your sales team applied and the website elements that convinced the prospect to make contact. You could even survey your customers to learn what made them choose your company.
By learning what works, you’ll be able to refine your online lead generation process using real, proven data from customers. You can also ask failed prospects why they didn’t choose you – many will be refreshingly honest if approached the right way.
Polling customers is simple using Google Docs or dedicated online poll software. If you’d like to encourage detailed responses from existing customers, offer a special discount on their next purchase in exchange for their feedback!
On average, how long does it take your business to respond to new inquiries, leads and offers from prospects? Remember the one-hour rule and try to respond to any new sales leads as quickly as possible to maximize your chances of closing the deal.