Is Your Business Throwing Great Leads Out the Window? Jessica Lunk Many business owners invest a lot of time and energy into attracting new leads. But no matter how many great leads you get, they won’t help you if your team is dropping the ball when comes to converting them to paying customers. Here are some common mistakes small business owners make and how to avoid them. Not moving at smartphone speed. The digital era has conditioned people to expect instant gratification—or a close facsimile. That means you literally have no time to waste if customers express interest in doing business with you. If they don’t hear back from you right away, they may decide to go elsewhere in the meantime. To avoid this problem, assign someone on team to respond to leads as they come in, so you don’t lose business to a competitor who is speedier. A bad first impression. If the team members who answer your phone sound rushed or gruff, that can be a turnoff to potential customers—and may some to walk away. One of the best investments you can make in your business is hiring someone with great manners to answer the phones and respond to emails from prospects—or sending your receptionist to a continuing education program to sharpen his or her skills at representing your business to customers. If you’re not sure what kind of reception your team is giving prospects who call, hire a mystery shopping service to give you an objective report. A digital-only approach. If your clients are very tech-savvy, they may be very comfortable working with you exclusively by email or live chat. But if you are aiming to close deals with a wide pool of customers, an initial phone conversation may make all of the difference for some prospects. Small business that can’t afford to hire a customer service or sales person on a regular basis often find that freelance help will do the trick. Freelance marketplaces–such as Upwork, Freelancer and People per Hour–can connect you with freelance customer service pros you can hire on temporary basis. “Let me get back to you.” If customers call with questions about your business that your team can’t answer without you, telling prospects you’ll get back to them is a good way to miss out on sales. To reduce the chances of this happening, prepare an FAQ for any team members who answer the phone or emails sent to the company. Don’t just include basic information, such as what services you provide or your hours. Also offer insight to the price range your quotes will generally fall into, unless your quotes are unusually complex. That will help you weed out customers who can’t afford your services so you can focus attention on those who can. If you’re not comfortable empowering your team to answer questions like this, ask them to give prospects your mobile phone number, so you can have a quick conversation. No entry-level deals. Many customers will want to get a taste of service you offer before committing to a bigger project. If you don’t offer any special deals that allow customers to work with you on a small scale first, they may be hesitant to work with you at all. You don’t have to join a daily deals advertising program to do this. By simply offering a special discount or one-time experience to new customers, you’ll have a better shot at converting them. For instance, instead of trying to sell a 10-week package of yoga classes on the first contact with a customer, a yoga studio might offer a complimentary or one-time class–and after that class offer the 10-week package. Of course, you have to make sure customers’ first experience is outstanding or it will be hard to persuade them to come back. Sloppy record keeping. Sometimes, business owners or their teams do everything right on the first contact with a new prospect but lose out on new business for an entirely avoidable reason: they didn’t take good notes or they lost the notes they took. Invest in a small business CRM so everyone can take excellent notes and keep them all organized in one spot. With all of your contacts organized, it won’t matter if your lead speaks with Tricia, your business development rep on Monday, but catches Janet from accounting when they call back on Tuesday. Anyone can pick up the conversation right where it left off. Your leads turn into customers – no missed opportunities.