The current situation we find ourselves in reminds me of a famous quote from Albert Einstein: ‘The measure of intelligence is the ability to change’. One of the proofs to this is the use of the new term, Social Distancing. A few weeks ago, none of us really knew what it meant. Today we are already looking at how we can improve our productivity working from home and considering how we can run effective meetings online. Moreover, if you key ‘Social Distancing’ into Google you get a whole load of great images you can use in your blogs and articles.
I am not making light of the situation; it is a worrying time to many of us whilst we struggle to make sense of it all. When we hit stressful and unknown times in business, decision makers tend to respond in two different ways:
- Looking at the situation in the short-term context and evaluating what is best for their company in this light.
- Looking at the situation in the long-term context and evaluating what is best for their company in this light.
The first group will generally put a stop to any expense which they view the business can survive without at the present time whereas the second group will want to stick to business as usual as much as possible. I believe that at the moment the answer is somewhere in the middle, which might sound confusing but is probably the best way to look at things.
We are already seeing many examples of cancelations and delays in expected contracts and orders. The easiest thing would be to make panic decisions. I try to look at the detail and context to help me make sense of it all. Consider the following:
- Is your industry or any of your clients’ industries directly affected by current or future limitations imposed?
- Can you approach your clients in a pro-active way to see how you can work through the situation in a way that is beneficial to all?
- Are there any new/ updated services you can offer which might be more helpful at the current state of affairs?
Once you are clear if you can carry on working, with whom and what is your ‘best Covid 19 slant’ you can then decide what taps you must shut and what taps you should keep going.
Before I end this blog, I wanted to remind you that lead generation is a tap you should consider keeping open. There are two main reasons for this:
- When there are less available opportunities to do business, you need to cast your net wider and tap into additional opportunities.
- This situation is not going to last forever and stopping your lead generation would mean you will have a much bigger hole to climb out of then.
I hope this is helpful even if only as a moment of distraction from the doom and gloom. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch and discuss your options.
To some of you it may seem a rather obvious thing to say but a lead and a sale are two different things and accordingly need different treatment. I often come across businesses confusing the two and ending up losing a good lead that could have turned into a sale or spending too much time working on an unqualified lead because they thought they had a sale they didn’t!
A lead may eventually turn in to a sale but there is a process it needs to go through to get there.
Typically, you communicate to leads en masse, a lead could be a contact on a bought list, a card you picked up from a networking event, referrals, respondents to advertising/social media campaigns or someone who has filled out a contact from on your website.
Trying to sell to a lead too early can lose you a potential sale. For example, collecting business cards at a networking event then going back to your office and contacting them as if you have spoken to them and know them and their needs and trying to sell to them is a big no no!
The simple but necessary process to turn a lead in to a sale means your leads become prospects, which can be turned into an opportunity and then finally closed in to a sale. Below is a brief outline of what needs to be done at each stage:
- Leads need to be treated with a care and respect, they need to be nurtured. You need to communicate with the lead on a one to one basis and encourage them to engage with you so you can learn more about them. You can do this with e-mails or telemarketing for example. If a lead engages in two-way communication this suggests they have real potential to buy from you. The lead then becomes a prospect.
- A prospect has the potential to become an opportunity, to make a sale. So next you need to determine if they have a challenge you can help with and whether your product can bring them any value. Therefore, when handling a prospect you need to determine
- How much do they know about your product/service?
- What do you know about their specific challenges?
- What do they understand about how your product/service could help them?
- Do they have a budget?
- Would they appreciate a proposal?
If a prospect decides to consider your proposal or solution to their challenge they become an opportunity and are one step closer to becoming a new sale and a new client. An opportunity is a qualified prospect you have made a detailed proposal to with a specific cost. If the opportunity you present is accepted and agreed you now have a SALE and a new client. Now is the time to start providing them with your product/service!
So, in summary leads, prospects, opportunities and sales are all different but all part of the same process. It is important to differentiate between the stages so you can make sure your marketing and sales strategy is doing the right thing at the right time! If you would like help understanding the stages and developing your sales process please get in touch with Your Business Development Team. We are here to help and be a part of your team. It’s what we do! E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org