Converting cold prospects into warm leads (with confidence)

One of my clients asked me yesterday if I could help her specifically with converting cold prospects into warm leads. I’ve been working with her business for a few months around their wider marketing and new business strategy – and the question came up as we’re about to move into the tactical stage.

Her actual question – verbatim – was this. “Might you be able to help us work out how to turn a cold lead into a lukewarm lead….and warm ones into hot stuff as I have ideas, but nothing in the way of a structured plan and little in the way of confidence.”

Confidence in sales and marketing

The key to the question, for me, was in the final comment about confidence. When you’re a specialist in your area, confidently using you and your teams’ expertise to deliver high quality services to your clients, it can be unnerving to feel yourself back in a beginner’s role when it comes to something as important as acquiring new customers. But, if you think about it, that’s only as it should be. It takes years of hard work, experience and training to get to the level you are at in your industry – so why or how would you be an expert in sales and marketing as well?

The good news is you don’t have to be, and hopefully the tips below might help you get started, if only by busting a few of the myths that exist that might be holding you back from getting started.

Busting some myths about sales and marketing

  1. Marketing is common sense, not a mystical digital or creative art. OK, there are areas where creative talents or very specific digital skills will help you get stuff done quicker or more elegantly, but real marketing is common sense. I can set you off on the right track with these questions and pointers. Who are your target audience? Which groups are the most profitable? Where do they spend their time? If you don’t know, you can go about asking them. What problems do they have that you are you able to solve?
  2. To be good at sales you need to be extrovert, pushy, good at handling continuous rejection and have a big black book of hot contacts ready to go. Absolutely NOT. Maybe sales in the ’80s and ’90s worked like this, but times have very much changed. Think first about who you like to do business with – A.K.A. how you like to be sold to? Is it by the pushy bloke who won’t take no for an answer – or the interesting one you’ve had good business discussions with? Is it the won’t-go-away one who keeps calling to tell you about yet another ‘amazing discount’ – or the really normal sounding one whose blog you sometimes read and who invites you to get in touch if you need help? Is it someone who is trying to sell you something, or is it someone you’ve built a relationship with over time, that you know, like and trust?
  3. To be good at sales, you need to be confident. Yes you absolutely do, but not in the way you might be thinking. You don’t need to be ballsy, out-there and networking-tastic. You need to be confident in the service you offer, and the fact that you can help someone solve a problem or achieve a task. You need to be confident that what you do will bring them value. This type of confidence is human, real and creates enthusiasm – and enthusiasm attracts people to do business with you.
  4. You have to pay a lot of money to advertise to lots of people. No you do not. Not necessarily. Now if you’re selling Mars Bars, you’ll need to sell millions to make it all stack up – so you need to advertise to millions. But if you’re selling specialist professional services – as most of my clients do – you actually only need to let people know you exist, tell them exactly what you do and clearly explain which of their problems you can solve. The second two points should be fairly straight-forward (although objective help with getting your message straight and professional copywriting to say it effectively can be a very good investment). The first point – letting people know you exist – needs a little more planning; refer back to the questions in point 1. Common sense.
  5. You need to know all about Facebook and Twitter to be able to market yourself and compete. No you do not. You DO need to properly acknowledge the significance of social media in today’s society – whether you personally use it or not – and accept the fact that it can make a big difference to the success or growth of your business. And you absolutely cannot afford to ignore it, because you can be sure that your competitors (the ones that matter) will be using it. You can, however, easily invest in someone to train your business up, plan your social media marketing for you, or even take care of the whole lot for you. And that can be equally effective in terms of results. Just please, please, don’t ignore it.

Well, hopefully that’s given a bit of a confidence boost to anyone who is thinking that they won’t be able to grow their business until they engage in the dark arts of sales and marketing. I’m conscious that I haven’t really talked about converting leads into prospects – which was the title of the post – so I had better get on and start writing something a bit more on-topic.

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