"Why aren’t we closing more sales? We invest so much to attract new qualified leads, we get the leads… why isn’t the closing ratio higher?"
Regardless of industry, type or size of business, marketing and sales success always boils down to one thing: Customer Trust.
Let’s put ourselves in the prospect’s shoes. What is the experience like for them?
Often the company shares the information requested; meets with the prospect to understand interests and needs; provides a proposal or price; and then waits for the prospect to decide. Some follow up a few times; most follow up only once or twice. Some companies think that’s enough and their job is complete and they can’t do anything else.
However, rarely is the experience described above 'enough' to move a qualified lead to a sale in a B2B environment. There is no silver bullet to sales, no magic formula or process. However, this is not a sales issue. It's a trust issue.
People don’t want to be sold. We want to make our own buying decisions. We buy from people and organizations we trust.
My daughter, Courtney, graduated from high school last month. Last September she applied to three Canadian universities. Within a month, all three offered early acceptance along with glossy brochures and welcome letters. Because of the pandemic, she wasn’t able to tour the campuses. What she really wanted to see were the residences. She had seen the residences at school A and B - it was the third one, school C, she really wanted to see to be able to evaluate her options.
Last October, we drove 5 hours to see school C. Luckily, we were connected to a recruiter at school C through a friend. The recruiter went the extra mile for my daughter. She met her for 2 hours off-campus on a Saturday morning to talk to her about the program and the university. We were impressed. And then we drove to campus to peek into the windows of the dorm rooms.
After that, the recruiter sent a nice thank you text. And that was the last Courtney heard from school C for 3 months. In the meantime, schools A and B sent holiday cards, connected on social media, sent postcards wishing her luck on her exams, invited her to virtual tours, sent hot chocolate and stickers in the mail. At the end of January, all three asked for transcripts.
Despite the fact she hadn’t heard much from school C, it was her top choice.
In February, she confirmed her residence selections and sent a deposit to her top 2 choices: A and C. School B was no longer in the running.
Meanwhile, school A consistently sent pertinent information and every time she asked a question, responded immediately. Over a 10-month period, they contacted her 14 times. I tracked this because I was so impressed with the consistent effort.
School C responded occasionally but only after several attempts. Perhaps they thought, "We have the deposit, we’ve closed the sale." They were mistaken. In Courtney’s view, the university stopped paying attention, providing value and building a relationship with her.
She felt like she would be just a number at School C. In her words, "They weren’t reliable, it’s difficult to get answers, they don’t get back to me, they don’t care enough now. What will it be like if I go there? I don’t trust that I can count on them."
We make choices and decisions based on who we can count on and who we can trust.
Not surprisingly, in the end, she chose school A: St. Francis Xavier University.
They took the time and made the effort to invest in building a relationship of trust with the qualified lead. And thus, closed on a four-year sale, approximately $80,000.
Like compound interest, the company that makes consistent, frequent deposits ends up with the largest balance, the strongest Trust Equity ™ with the qualified lead.
#1. Adopt a forever mindset.
Trusted advisors commit to relationships by adopting a forever mindset. Strive to become a trusted advisor and commit to the long term. Trusted advice is a crucial part of how we decide to make a purchase. This is true in all businesses, whether private with 25 customers or large with thousands of customers.
#2. Go below the surface. Strive to understand what really matters.
In our virtual live Becoming a Trusted Advisor Group cohort program, we often use the analogy of an iceberg and participants outline what really matters to customers and prospects. Here are a few questions to ask your qualified leads to get below the surface: What are the top priorities? Why do they want to buy your product or service? Why now?
#3. Follow up, and keep following up.
Familiarity builds trust. The lesson was clear: frequent interaction with prospects and personalization can lead to sales. It also demonstrates interest and commitment. St. F.X. sent notes to say 'good luck on exams', reminders of important due dates, holiday and graduation cards, at all the right times.
Focus on learning to build relationships of trust with qualified leads to secure new customers and position your company for marketing and sales success. Of course, when done right, these steps can lead to more sales and new business gained through referrals.