Sales lead attrition: it can crush your bottom line while putting a dent in your ego. Losing a potential customer is a painful process, and for many businesses, it’s an all too common scenario. There are a number of reasons potential customers walk away. You can’t do much about those who simply realise your product or service is unsuitable, but you can alter your approach to capture those who should become customers.
Getting to know you
Firstly you need to identify what stops some people from doing business with you. The best way is to walk along the sales journey in a manner you would imagine a new customer might come to you.
Ideally, you know where a customer in your target market might find you, whether that’s a special interests magazine, a market stall or online. Once a potential client is aware of who you are and what you do, they must be able to find evidence they can trust your business and your products or services. After that they evaluate your offer versus others and make a decision whether to buy from you. If anything along this process is amiss, your chances of losing the sale go up.
One of the biggest reasons for sales lead attrition comes from lack of trust. Make sure potential customers can find your happy customers, whether that’s through positive social media engagement, testimonials, case studies on your website or favourable independent reviews.
Have you made it easy for them to find out more about you? Or do potential customers have to:
- Do a deep search to find examples of your work or testimonials?
- Click on a chain of links to request further information?
- Speak to an unprofessional receptionist in order to talk to someone who can answer their questions?
- Wait a week to hear back from you?
Think about how these elements affect the confidence level of a potential customer looking to buy from you. Having a comprehensive website (or patient sales contact) with information that potential customers might need to make a decision is crucial.
Another aspect that causes customers to walk away is the ‘too hard’ basket. Do your potential customers have to:
- Search for your contact info on your website or business card?
- Click through a seemingly endless series of pages to make a purchase?
- Ring you multiple times to ask for a quote?
- Fill out a thousand forms before they can move forward?
You need to take any momentum you can get from a potential customer’s interest and move it towards a sale. Any hold up does your sales process a disservice. Find out how you can remove as many steps between ‘polite interest’ and ‘making a sale’ as you can. Make it easy for someone to buy from you.
The customers who are indecisive before walking away are often the ones who’ve come through the marketing process and erred on the side of caution. Moving forward is considered risky or difficult in their minds.
Perceived risk can come from:
Price: The higher the price, the greater the ‘risk’. For example, a car is going to be harder to sell than a cream bun. If the cream bun is no good, then they’ve lost a few dollars. If the car is no good, that’s a bigger problem.
Loyalty to other brands: If they’re happy with their current product or service provider, you need to make a case for why your product or service will not only make them happy but happier than the incumbent. Convincing them to switch therefore requires more effort.
Not fully understanding your product: If the concept of your product or service is innovative, it can be difficult to explain what you do. It may be easier to focus on the benefits rather than the features in the early adopter stage.
Anything you can do to address their concerns and remove this risk will help the sales process flow. Can you offer a money-back guarantee or extended warranty? Perhaps a trial period or a special deal for new customers will sweeten the sale.
Making a sale
Secondly, you need to make sure that all the mechanisms for making a sale are working. There are three common mistakes business make in their sales process.
1. Ignoring the sale: So the customer is ready to buy, but there’s no one there to take the sale. Maybe it’s a dud ecommerce plugin on your website or sales enquiries that have simply been ignored. Why do any marketing if you don’t convert the leads?
2. Being hard to contact: How easy is it for people to contact you by phone or by email? What’s your response time? You may want to make a sale online, but if a customer wants to order by phone, are you going to reject them? What if their order is tricky and they want to talk to someone about it first?
3. Not closing the sale: The customer has evaluated your product so it’s now your turn to ask them for their verdict. You want them to make a positive buying decision, so make sure you close the sale with that in mind: “I’m glad you like feature X; would you like to finalise your purchase?” is one way to address this. Online it’s much harder, but online stores counter this is by allowing shoppers to place items on a wishlist or by sending reminders about abandoned shopping carts.
If your marketing hits the marks of awareness, trust and meeting customer requirements and your sale process is smoothed over with as few barriers as possible, you’ll soon find fewer customers walking away and more coming to buy from you.