Don’t lose business simply because you don’t have an efficient way to track your prospective customers. Getting organized is easier than you might think.
Sometimes you just have to state the obvious. Investing in a system that helps you organize, track and follow through on sales leads results in more sales, higher revenue and, you guessed it, business growth. Most small business owners understand the importance of—and invest in—online lead generation methods, including search advertising, email marketing, and retargeting. However, research shows that 55 percent of small businesses don’t follow up on new leads.
In her article at Small Business Computing, Tamara Weintraub, content marketing manager at ReachLocal, asks small business owners to consider what sales lead process they have in place, and the costs associated with failing to follow up on new leads. Common reasons for losing prospective customers include failing to return calls quickly enough or not retaining the prospect’s information after the initial contact.
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The point is that small businesses can’t afford NOT to have a system to help track their sales leads. Up to 50 percent of shoppers buy from the first company that responds to their query. When potential customers call a local business looking for information, those calls often go either to voicemail or to an answering service.
In either case, fail to respond quickly enough to your prospects’ calls, and you’ll lose business to your competition; if you don’t respond within the first hour, you are 10 times less likely to reach a new lead. Consider using a lead generation management service to help you respond promptly. It can provide real-time lead notifications, via email or text message, whenever someone contacts your business.
How do you keep track of the calls you receive from your online marketing efforts, so that you can follow up on them? If you’re like many other small business owners, your system involves Post-It notes or names and numbers hastily scribbled on the back of a business card. In this light, it’s not really all that surprising to know that almost 75 percent of new leads never hear back from the business they contacted.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Decide what information you want to gather from prospects when they first contact you: how they heard about your business, any qualifying information, such as their interest in certain products or services. Record this data in a central place, such as a CRM system or even something as basic as a shared spreadsheet on Google Drive. You can also:
- Create website submission forms to capture online leads and contact information
- Use a call-tracking number or tracking URL in your offline or online advertising to record the call and caller details like name and caller ID.
It’s important to note that half of new leads aren’t ready to make a purchase. Of course, you want them to remember you when they finally are ready to buy, so organize and categorize your leads as they come in. Identify each one as a contact, an active lead, a long-term lead, or an active customer. You can also:
- Update your contact list and remove duplicate leads, re-classify leads that converted into sales, and make update all contact information
- Stay in touch with prospective customers who have not yet completed a purchase. You could send automated, lead-nurturing emails with company news, tips from the industry, new product and service offerings, or promotions and specials.
Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of Small Business Computing. Follow Lauren on Twitter.