If we take the time to listen to customers, we learn that they are telling us the same things over and over again. They don’t like pushy salespeople. They want someone to understand their needs. They want clearly communicated, relevant information. And they want a timely response. So, let’s interrupt the search with an immediate follow up.
Did you know that only 7% of companies respond in the first five minutes of receiving a sales lead? Surveys done on lead generation revealed that over 50% of companies didn’t even respond in the first five business days! That means that when customers say they would like a timely response, less than half of companies are actually providing that. Which is why interrupting the search is such an important—and timely—method!
This is one of my favorite sales techniques. Why? Because it is incredibly effective! I love teaching sales teams a better approach to following up with their leads. In fact, this is a topic I touch on constantly with my own sales teams. Interrupting the search is all about responsiveness: being the first to contact a lead so that they stop searching and decide to purchase.
Part of being in sales means that you’re willing to jump on an opportunity at a moment’s notice. If you are going to effectively interrupt the search for your next lead, this is key! When a new call, email, or online form comes through, your response should be immediate. Your prospective customer is interested in your product or service right now. Don’t let that moment pass you—or them—by. Make the call and let them know that you and your company are not only responsive but responsible in your approach toward your customers.
When a prospective customer is filling out an online contact form, it means they are in the middle of searching for the product or service that your company provides. Once they click “Send” on that form, they will be moving on to the next website, and the next, and the longer you let that form sit in your inbox, the higher the potential that a competitor will be the first to make contact. Your job is to interrupt the search. The sooner you make contact with a lead, the more likely you are to have a successful conversation and make a sale. It is just that simple. Interrupt their search so that they don’t have a chance to visit more websites, find competitive products, or get in touch with other companies. Be the first to make a connection.
Now that you’ve interrupted the search and got the attention of your lead, it is important to make a meaningful connection. Not only is this lead a potential customer, but they are also a potential repeat customer, and building rapport goes a long way in showing customers that you and your company are credible and trustworthy. Take some time getting to know your prospect’s needs. Ask questions and really, really, listen to their response. Both you and your lead will benefit from taking the time to build a relationship in the midst of the buying journey.
You’ve contacted the lead, interrupted their search, started the process of building a relationship. But what is it that your customer really needs from you? They have an obstacle to overcome or an opportunity to fulfill a need. Do offer something of value for their situation? This is your moment to add on to your relationship building technique and begin the process of communicating the value of working with you and your company. This is a great time to ask deeper questions about your lead. If you are offering a service for their business, ask what struggles they face on a daily basis. Where does he need support or advice? What are her biggest obstacles when it comes to this specific area? Listen. Learn. And offer value.
You understand your lead’s needs and wants. We learned that customers are looking for relevant information that is communicated clearly. Once you have built rapport, offered value, it is time to share the benefits of your product or service. Instead of trying to convince your lead that your product is great, communicate the different ways in which your product will specifically address their needs. Let them know you were listening. Make it personal to the obstacles they are facing, and use language that is clear and concise (in other words, avoid lingo that may be specific to your industry, but not theirs).
Congratulations, because you are about to close the deal! Because of your prompt response, clear and friendly communication, and your ability to share the value and benefit of your business and how it will help your lead, you just set yourself up for a successful sale. Work with your lead—excuse me, customer—to sort through the details of the sale before hanging up the phone. Make sure you have all the information you need, including email and other contact info so that you can follow up with your new customer, continue building the relationship, and encourage repeat sales.
Harvard Business Review released a study in 2011 that showed the value of prompt response time to sales leads. Businesses that responded in the first hour were seven times more likely to qualify the lead than those who responded within the first two hours. Those early responders were sixty times more successful than those who waited 24 hours to respond. While these numbers are shocking, this study was done almost a decade ago. How much more important is the sales response time today? People are busier, they move quickly (especially when shopping online), and catching the lead before it goes cold can mean the difference of just a few minutes.
Next time you get a sales lead, whether it’s tomorrow, next week, or in the next 5 minutes, challenge yourself to respond immediately. Interrupt the search and close the deal. You’ll never look back.