Understand these 4 stages of transition from lead to client

Written by Nigel Simpkins

Leads are in themselves an achievement. You got someone you have never met before to give you their contact details. You have their name, phone number, email address and even location. This is not something you should ever take lightly. This involves such much trust and once that trust is broken, you may never even hear from that person again. Leads can be of all different kinds. They can be of random consumers, interested and previously engaged customers, private investors, private equity firms and other businesses to name a few. If you work in certain industries you might even be given government official leads. For example if you’re in the defense industry you might have convinced a minister or department representative to set up an in-person meeting down the line. Whatever the case is, you need to make sure you have an excellent conversion plan. The question is, do you have a smooth transition phase from lead to client? The following are just a few complex ways you can make sure that you grab and keep a lead and create an amazing business relationship.

Value in-person meeting

Where do you get most of your leads from? The trouble with online lead capturing is that, in the end it’s all just pixels. The lead doesn’t really know who you are, they have no way to value your contact and you also don’t get a sense of who you’re talking to. Usually, these things are not an issue because both of you, are being lead by an interest of supply and demand. However, the in-person meeting is so valuable because it establishes real contact. You can see each other, make eye contact, speak to each other and have a real conversation. It’s not at all surprising then that in-person lead capturing is usually a lot more successful than online methods. However, the trouble with this is that it’s not nearly as widespread. You can’t be everywhere at once, you can’t speak to everyone on the planet.

However, while you’re at trade shows, exhibitions, conferences and events, you should make sure you have trained your sales staff in excellent verbal communication. This can be something as simple as shaking someone’s hand when you first greet them. Offering them a seat at your booth, and a cup of tea or coffee. At potential client meetings such as B2B, you can have a spread platter of food to suit everyone’s needs. You can have casual seating such as sofas and recline chairs. It’s wise to really train your employees in hospitality and to not be too pushy in how they drive the direction of the conversation with leads.

Efficiency in categorization

Businesses have so many different departments and therefore different types of leads will be necessary. One type of lead might be from a sales department in another business that wants to order a batch of your top product. Another lead might be from a marketing agency that wants to make a deal where they offer their services for your next product launch of marketing campaign. Another lead might be from an import company that would love to export your products to their location and begin distributing in foreign market that you would otherwise not have access to. However, you should always remember leads are just people. Behind that exterior of numbers and words, it’s just another human being that is a figure in another business. Therefore, you need to categorize every lead you get but do so in such a manner that you are keeping the human element involved.

Take for example the Copper CRM which integrates right into your Google Gmail account. Any email that you receive from a lead can be immediately bookmarked into your Copper account. With a couple of clicks, you have already categorized who they are and what the lead is about. For example, you receive an email from Alex Hunter. He is a salesperson from a prominent distributor and he has responded to an email marketing message you sent. Transfer his information and dissect the gist and aim of his message by importing his lead into Copper. Now you have his name, the company name, email and phone number, keywords such as ‘buy’ and ‘product’, as well as his region and time zone. You also have the date the lead was created so you can keep up with things and be reminded how long or established your relationship is.

Let them see and feel

This stage of the lead transition into clientele, is called opportunity. By now you will have replied to their interests and offered them a prospect that they would like to move further with. This shall lead onto the phase where they see and feel what you have to offer. Either in person or using various online communication techniques, you can give them an idea of what they would be getting if they worked with you. For example, set up an in-person meeting with the lead for the purposes of giving a product demo is well within your interest. Maybe you’re an energy drink company, so any online marketing video is only going to take you so far. The lead’s experience is not true to the potential of your product if it’s merely online. Therefore meeting in person either at their offices or at your offices, to allow their sales team to taste the product, is vital to capturing the lead fully.

However, if you are an online service such as a marketing company you could initially over a portfolio of previous work you have done for other businesses. From this the lead can decide if they would like your style and expertise to help their business grow or forge a new campaign. But even still, there must be an in-person meeting to truly seal the deal. The same premise goes, either they meet up at your offices or you travel to meet them.

Sending the S-team

The final stages of transition is called custom and customer. Employ personalized techniques to impress the lead and offer them unique services or designs to help specifically with their needs. This involves very in depth conversations about what exactly the client would require. It may lead to your business needing to make brand new strategies, expand capabilities and possibly even hire new employees to cope with the demands. Large changes to your business structure are worth it, if you can secure and very lucrative business deal with the client.

As long as there is an understanding of a learning curve for your business, then you can commit to doing this. Bear in mind, this is a type of expansion. Therefore it’s prudent to make sure you decide on whether it will be a short term expansion or long term. You don’t want to hang onto a newly created section of your business after the contract expires if you cannot afford it. With all this in mind, if everything is to the client’s liking and you are ready to take on and satisfy their professional needs, then you can consider the lead a customer. Your new relationship will be client and company.

There are lots of ways to skin a cat. Lead generation in itself isn’t difficult but it is very hard to convert a lead into a client. Start off by training your employees in face to face salesperson training. Each of your leading sales people should have the skills to hold a genuine conversation and make the lead feel respected. Then consider sending a sales team to the lead to give them an in-person demo and begin to establish a firmer relationship from there.