Once you’ve got a stack of names and contact information, now what? It’s money in the bank, right? Well… maybe. Before you can start spending your new dough, you’ve got to convert those leads to customers. Here’s how to make sure that happens:
- Check It Out. Your first step is to contact the referral. You’d be surprised at how often the contact information is incorrect. Sometimes, your customer has supplied a fake name in the hopes of getting their reward for nothing, or has referred someone who has absolutely no interest in your product or service. A good portion of your referrals will be weeded out at this point.
- Explain. Even though you’re calling a “warm” lead, chances are that the person you’re contacting didn’t know your mutual acquaintance passed on their contact information. You’ll want to explain how you got their name, and that you’ve got something special to offer them. Try something like, “Hey, Joe! Sally Smith gave me your name and number. She’s been a client of mine for over a year, and she thought you might be interested in the current promotion we’re running on bookkeeping services. Is there a time when I can go over our services in more detail and explain how we can save you at least 10 hours a month?”
- Set a Time to Meet. If the referral passes the initial screen, you can set a time to chat further to explain your products or services, or to conduct an initial appointment if the referred person is interested. Remember, in most cases, the goal of the initial call is to get the prospect interested enough to want to learn more about you. Just as you can’t convert someone from a blind date to fiancée in one evening, you’re probably not going to make someone a customer for life in a single phone call. You just want to move them to the next step in the process.
- Do Your Thing. Once you have the prospective customer interested, the next step is to do the thing you do best – explain your products and services to them. Emphasize how helpful you’ve been to your mutual acquaintance, and ask lots of questions. Begin establishing a relationship.
- Report Back. Your customer will likely want to know how it went when you contacted their referral. Drop them a line by email or in the mail that says, “Thanks for referring Joe! We met last week. I truly appreciate your trust in me.” Then you can inform them how they can claim their referral reward. Short and to the point does the trick.
Effective communication at every stage of the process will smooth the way – communication with your new prospect, communication with your staff if they’re assisting you in converting a lead to a customer, and communication with your original client. Letting everyone know what’s going on and why may seem like overkill, but it really makes everyone feel like part of the process.