How many accountants (and other professionals!) have you heard say "if only we were better at converting leads that come our way"? Maybe you've said it yourself, maybe you hear it when networking with your peers. Actually I suspect that pretty much every accountant AND professional advisor can relate to this. From a personal point of view, there is nothing more galling that not converting a hot prospect. This article actually explores why sales professionals have got it all wrong over the years. Your ability to convert leads is less to do with your sales skills and everything to do with your marketing skills.
A focus on converting leads
On the face of it "converting leads" is all about selling skills, and that's why many professionals say they need to improve their selling skills. The most obvious things that would help are:
- pre-qualifying or screening out the time-wasters and unsuitable clients before they suck up valuable time
- listening to clients and understanding their requirements so you can help them solve these with your services
Those do sound like selling skills, but perhaps you need to go a few paces back up the pipeline.
Converting leads is about marketing
For simplicity lets say selling is about converting leads and marketing is about creating leads. In many small firms the two can become mixed up, and that can cause some confusion. The important point here is that if you get your marketing right, lead conversion becomes much easier. Why? Because:
- only the right type of prospects approach you
- your potential clients arrive as hot prospects
- the sales process is much shorter as they are motivated to meet and buy from you
Where is your focus?
How much time do you (and your team) invest in the following:
- understanding the right type of client for you? It's very easy to say "we could help anybody", far more productive to focus on those people you help the most (and can charge better fees too)
- understanding the emotional and rational problems you solve for your clients. If you only think in logical terms, from your perspective, you will miss a really important point. The busier everybody becomes, the more your message needs to focus on the exact things things that grab attention and create a desire to do something. Saying what you do doesn't do that, talking about the issues your target clients suffer and how you solve them grabs more attention.
- educating your introducers in the right type of referral for you? Networking is not too effective if all you ever get are low grade prospects. Check your introducers really understand what you are looking for and why you are the best person for them.
- raise your visibility and profile in your target markets (assuming you really have got a target market)
Next time you think, "we need help with our sales skills", and we are not very good at converting leads, ask yourself where your focus is and how much time you spent making sure you get the right opportunities?