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A common challenge every training business faces is how to turn all your contacts and leads you’ve managed to get through your marketing into paying customers. This is a process known as ‘lead management’.
According to stats quoted by the MX Group, a staggering 80% of leads are never followed up and yet at least 45% of leads will make a purchase somewhere once they have begun exploring what options might be available. If you don’t follow up, your prospective clients might end up buying from someone who does!
So how can you make sure that you don’t let new leads turn cold? What makes an effective lead management process?
Nurture your contacts and leads
Nurturing your leads is the most important thing that you can do to help turn your contacts into contracts!
To help you to do this, I’ve put together an overview of the five stages people go through to become a customer.
At this early point in the customer journey, the potential client has a strong need, want or problem that is affecting their life or business in some way. They know that a range of businesses exist that might be able to help, but they have no real information to help them decide which supplier might be best for their needs.
At this stage, it’s helpful to provide some initial information about your business, who you work with and the services you provide. The aim here is to raise the potential client’s awareness about your presence in the marketplace.
If you use the language that’s typical to their industry and talk about how you solve your clients’ pain points this can help you to stand out because the potential client will feel that you understand the issues they’re facing.
This is when the potential client enters the information gathering stage. They will look more closely at your training services, how they’re delivered, who you work with, how your services benefit businesses and more.
They may be collecting similar information from your competitors as they’re still trying to understand their options.
This is when you might want to send the lead information about promotional offers, such as a free trial or an initial Skype consultation.
At this point, the potential client will want to evaluate and compare their options. This is when you should be showing them what sets you apart from other training providers. You could offer to put together a bespoke training package or explain how you follow-up to ensure that training is implemented. You might also want to share case studies of how your training has made a positive difference to another business in your client’s industry.
At this stage, your lead is on the brink of booking your services but they may need reassurance that it is the correct decision. This is when social proof such as word of mouth recommendations, testimonials or reviews can all help you address your clients’ fear of the unknown.
Some freelancers/businesses choose to minimise their clients’ sense of risk by offering a 30-day money back guarantee if they’re not satisfied.
Having gathered all of the information they need to make a decision, hopefully, the potential client will book your training services. This is still an important part of the customer journey. Make sure that you follow-up on the client’s booking with a confirmation and that you send out any paperwork or materials when you say you will.
As these five points above show, your aim should be to identify where a potential client is in their customer journey and to provide information and support that answers their questions and overcomes any barriers to buying from you. These barriers might be that they haven’t used your services before, that they’ve worked with a different training provider in the past, that yours is a small business, budget constraints, industry changes, or fear of the unknown as just a few examples.
Keep nurturing your client relationships
One of the biggest mistakes that businesses of all shapes and sizes make is to lose interest once they have converted a contact to a contract.
As we’ve discussed in the past, it’s actually far more cost effective to sell to an existing client than it is to someone who isn’t a client yet. Therefore, if you include the post-purchase period as part of your lead nurturing process, you could go a long way towards generating repeat business.
You might want to contact your existing clients with information about special promotions, exclusive upgrades to the training they’ve already booked, linked training programmes, advanced training programmes that build on the training already provided to their organisation, or even just resources that the client might find useful.
The aim is to show that you care and want to continue the working relationship even after the client has parted with their money. This approach can help to ensure that your hottest leads – i.e. the people you know can and will buy from you – never go cold.
Do you have a lead management process in place? Do you use Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software to help you manage your sales pipeline? If so, which software do you prefer? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences around lead management in the Comments below.