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From Leads to Customers

There are soft leads, hard leads, promising leads, two-goal leads, halftime leads and newspaper ledes.

Businesses have leads, but you want customers, right? How do you take those leads and turn them into loyal, loving customers? That’s where 2011 GSI B2B East Committee Chairman and BIZStreet Advisor Greg Anderson of ActionCOACH comes in.

“We’re all salespeople,” Anderson said, while making the point that we sell ourselves first and create a relationship before anything else. “When people want to buy, you just got to realize you can help fulfill their needs.”

Read on for more tips on converting those leads.

Anderson suggests educating your customers on value rather than price, as well as highlighting what makes you unique. You need to differentiate yourself from your competitors. If you’re the same as a competitor, you haven’t convinced your lead to become your customer.

Before meeting those leads, however, you need to make sure your organization is thought of highly. It’s not about how cool your product is, or how much less expensive it is than your competitors. It’s all about perception.

“You might think you’re giving good customer service,” Anderson said, “but if a customer leaves your store because of perceived indifference, they’ll tell their friends, and word of mouth marketing is huge.”

Fix the perception, and you’ve jumped an important hurdle.

But some leads still don’t turn into customers. Why is that?

“(The company’s) entire sales force is not trained on what is good customer service,” Anderson said. “If you have a small company, everybody has to be involved in that vision. Everybody has to know what your vision is and the owner has to set the example.”

So check yourself: Are your employees casting the company’s vision when they attend networking functions and other public events?

In reality, getting new customers starts way before meeting a lead. Of course, there are ways to lose a lead after meeting with them. Being too pushy is one way.

“When someone is a pushy salesman, it’s all about the salesman,” Anderson warns. “When someone is a good salesperson, they’re meeting the customer’s needs.” In other words, get to know your customers on a somewhat personal level, instead of hitting them over the head with your product or service.

So take Greg’s advice to heart. Know your organization’s vision. Teach your employees how to model that vision. Get to know your customers’ perception. You might be glad you did.

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