Small Business Coaching on Why Leads May Not Be Converting

For a lot of small business owners, leads may not be a problem. They may be receiving lots of leads. It’s the conversion of those leads that may be the problem. So in this article, let’s explore 4 reasons your leads may not be converting and what you can do about it.

1. Lead or Prospect Mismatch

Some people believe you have to get LOADS of random leads then some may shake out to be your ideal customer or target market. That’s a laborious process and it also produces false leads – people who were never really interested in what you have in the first place.

Leads may not be converting because they truly aren’t your ideal customer and they never were. If that’s the case, evaluate who those leads are, and check that they match the profile of your target market. If they’re not an ideal prospect, don’t waste time following up. Instead focus on generating more qualified leads that truly reflect your target market who is hungry for what you offer.

2. Follow-Up Fortunes

One of the things I discuss with clients is setting up a follow-up process for their business. There’s a fortune in the follow up, and honestly, there may be people out there just waiting to whip out their credit cards if only you’d pick up the phone and follow up with them.

When we’re pondering how to sell services, it’s important to create great follow-up systems that produce sales. A clear set of steps you take to follow up with someone who expressed interest in what you have to offer but hasn’t made a buying decision yet. The thing to remember is that customers buy not when we want them to buy; they buy when they are ready to buy. And this is why it’s important to have a follow-up system where you continue to provide value and you also remind them of how you can help.

My weekly Ezine is a good example of a follow-up system. It shows up every week with valuable information in response to subscriber questions, and it’s also a reminder of how I can help further if you’re interested in going deeper on any of the topics I discuss.

3. The Sting Rejection

Sometimes when we follow up, we essentially get a “No thanks, I’m not interested.” Ouch. But is it really an ouch? To me, sales is all about genuinely finding out the customer’s need is first, and listening very well to see if I truly have a solution to those problems/challenges. If I do have a solution that can help, then I’ll share what options exist. And I do so by giving the prospect all the information they need to make a decision.

Sometimes we are not converting leads because we’re very afraid to follow up. Afraid of rejection. Afraid of bothering or pestering people. I’d invite you to embrace that the sale is not about us (as small business owners). It’s about the prospect or client. Avoid getting emotionally attached to the outcome of following up.

If you know you can help someone eliminate a challenge or frustration by what you offer, then why not follow up to let them know. Sometimes that requires that you shift your thinking from someone trying to “get a sale” to becoming a provider of solutions. And if that follow-up leads into having a sales conversation where you’re sharing specifics about your offerings, sure, they may say “no.” Their decision is simply a choice and not a rejection of you. All that said, however, you do need an effective sales conversion process… which brings me to my next point.

4. Sales Conversion Process

Prospects convert to paying clients more easily when you have a clear sales process through which you can take them. If you don’t have a clear, step-by-step method to take a prospect from interest to purchase, this may be why you’re not converting them. Sometimes we get stuck because we’re staring the list of prospects but we really don’t know what we would say if we did follow up with them. So we procrastinate and we don’t take action.

Small Business Internet Marketing and Local Business Online Advertising

Small Business Internet Marketing Local Business Advertising Online How to start small business internet marketing and local business advertising online is a question that many small and medium sized businesses are pondering as more and more consumers disregard Yellow Pages books and other forms of traditional print media and move online to find what they are looking for.

The Internet is dramatically changing the way we do business and all the major companies are dominating online advertising leaving small and medium sized businesses in dire need of an Internet advertising solution for connecting and interacting with local consumers who are moving online in record numbers.

Many businesses who have created an online presence for themselves are quickly realizing that a pretty looking website does not equate to being found among the millions of websites online. Add to that the cost of dealing with designers and developers, and many businesses have no hope of competing in today’s Internet savvy communities.

One effective way is to utilize some of the many article and press release directories available online to announce your arrival into the online community. Providing concise informative information is the key here. It is not about flogging off your business products but about providing solutions to consumer problems.

Think about what solution your product or service can provide and write an article about that, not about your product, but what solution it can provide. Save the product details for the author’s resources box.

Another way small and medium businesses are trying to compete is through pay-per-click (PPC) programs like Google Adwords. Unfortunately most of the high target keywords and search terms have been become highly competitive and are generally cornered by major companies with large advertising budgets. And, to add fuel to the fire, there are now real concerns about click fraud.

Is Click Fraud and PPC Advertising a Problem?

According to Click Forensics, the overall industry average click fraud rate was 17.1% in the 4th quarter of 2008, up from 16.0% in the 3rd quarter of 2008. The problem, which is not new, is companies get paid based on how many times users click on online ads. Fraudsters develop computer programs that simulate user clicks to drive up traffic, and artificially inflating revenue. -Source: Peak Solutions/SEO Since 1999

What this means is if you and I are real estate agents and I find out you are advertising on a pay-per-click search engine, I will get up at 6am and start clicking on your ad until I use up your daily budget to stop the ad from appearing on the search engine for the rest of the day to improve the promotion of my ad on the same search engine.

What About Organic Search Optimization?

The most effective form of search engine marketing is organic search engine optimization or SEO as it is more commonly known. Internet keyword search studies confirm that keyword searchers prefer the organic search listings 6 to 1 to the pay-per-click sponsored ads found at the top of the pages above or to the side the organic searches. But SEO is a whole other story.

What About Geo-Targeted Advertising?

However, new small business Internet marketing technologies and strategies are opening the way for small and medium sized businesses to succeed in their business advertising online and compete in this lucrative online marketplace. One of these strategies’ is geo-targeted advertising which is driving online shoppers back into local stores and into using local business services.

It works by identifying the online shopper, gamer or surfer’s IP address and pushing out advertisements for local businesses onto those websites. These ads can be seen popping up everywhere from major search engine pages and gaming sites to the ever popular social networking sites like YouTube, Facebook, MySpace and other high traffic sites like eBay.

So it’s not surprising that local has become one of the hottest words in advertising. Attracted by the enormous growth opportunities, everyone, including the world’s largest technology, search and media companies, is gravitating toward local business advertising.

Smart business operators are laser-targeting their advertising campaigns by selecting zip/postcodes suited to their business needs. This means their ads only show up on websites when and where potential customers from their designated areas are online.

When the consumer clicks on an ad they are directed to, in many cases, a mini-website complete with text links, images, videos, discount coupons, and even interactive driving instructions. Never before have small and medium sized business owners had such real time control of their online branding features combined with a powerful local advertising presence.

To top this off, many sites are providing these small business internet marketing ads with no hosting, design or set-up fees and, no contracts terms. Is this the online solution small and medium sized businesses have been looking for to accelerate their business advertising online?

Couple this with effective business opportunity lead generator and prospecting systems and video response marketing solutions and you have the complete small business internet marketing package.

Cold Calling As A Small Business Marketing Tool

Does cold calling to generate leads and make sales send a chill through your body and freezes your soul?

The answer is most definitely yes, and the reason why is that cold calling has a bad reputation as a marketing tool, as it has been used poorly and wrongly by telemarketers over time. Typically you would have had second thoughts about cold calling to generate new leads, follow up existing clients and make sales and the excuses that you would use are.

1. Few people are naturally good or successful at cold calling,

2. Cold calling has a poor reputation, as people find it intrusive and obnoxious,

3. Conversion rates from cold calling are dismal with conversion rates around 2% compared to 20 to 50% for referrals.

4. I am afraid of rejection, ( after all we all want to be liked, right?)

Four strikes and the excuses and reasons not to cold call are still rolling in question is why?

The reason why cold calling has little flavor is that it is done wrong and the errors keep compounding.

So should you cross this marketing strategy off your list once and for all? Hell NO!

Before you give up or if you never started using the phone to generate leads, follow up customers and make sales, ask your self this question, “Is it cold calling that annoys people or the way that it is done?”

As a business owner I know full well the power of the telephone in generating leads and subsequent conversion to sales. Sales are the life blood of small business and with out sales your business will be out of business very quickly.

Now knowing this, one would imagine that all sales professionals and small business owners would use the phone in a targeted manner to generate leads and sales, unfortunately the opposite is true, most business owners fear the phone when it comes to using it as a lead generation tool, this piece of equipment suddenly appears to weigh a tonne and your arms become heavy and uncooperative, your mind comes up with a million reasons why you should be doing something different, and so the excuses flow. Have you had this or a similar experience when it comes to using the telephone to generate leads, follow up existing clients, customers, or make sales?

You know deep down that this marketing strategy is extremely effective when done correctly as illustrated by Will Smith in the movie “IN THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS” a movie based on a true story, where Will Smith’s character uses the phone to become very successful in his chosen business field.

Stumped? Want to get over the jitters and become a master in the art of cold calling? If you answer yes then prepare your self to become a master by following this straight forward commonsense strategy.

1. Partner with your prospect when making the call,

2. State your name and ask your prospect for permission before proceeding,

3. Listen, if they are busy and it is not a good time reschedule and get their permission to call back at a more favorable time, then ensure you call them back and be punctual, 3pm is not 3.05pm,

4. Tell them you will be brief give them a powerful reason to want to listen to what you are offering,

5. Ask them if you can ask them a couple of questions and get their permission before proceeding,

6. Summarize what they have told you about their needs and wants and

7. Then ask them if you could solve their problems would they consider making an appointment to meet with you to discover how you can assist them in solving their problem and satisfying their needs.

8. Schedule a face to face meeting with them.

Picking up the telephone surpasses advertising, web sites, news letters and all other forms of marketing to get immediate responses.

Use the above steps and start enjoying making sales, generating leads and making money.

Small Business Financing Problems and How to Solve Them

Many, if not most, small businesses will experience financing problems at some point during their life. How well management deals with these problems will go a long way to determining the ultimate success or failure of the business. There’s an old saying in business; “Cash is king”, and so it is. There are many instances of businesses being profitable on paper only to be unable to sustain operations due to poor cash flow management.

The financing problems created by improper cash flow management are ranked high on the list of problems faced by business owners. In fact, the 2007 Small Business Survival Index ranks financing problems up on the list of small business problems along with taxes (which can create financial problems of their own), government regulation compliance, legal threats, and finding quality employees.

If your small business is experiencing financing problems, what can you do to solve them? You have several options. You can bring in more revenue, reduce expenses, or become more efficient at managing your cash flow. In most cases you would better served by doing all three. Let’s look at these solutions and how to achieve them.

Increasing revenue is certainly a worthy goal of every business, but may not in itself lead to a solution for your small business’s financing problems. This is because in many cases additional funds are necessary to support the larger operations that create the additional revenue. For example, if you have a contracting business, you’ll need more staffing to take on additional work, which will lead to a short term cash flow problem until collections catch up with your increased labor costs.

This can be seen for manufacturing businesses as well. As your business grows and production levels rise, your business will incur additional plant, equipment and labor costs to support the larger number of orders you’re receiving. Until your receivables catch up with your increased costs you will have financing problems.

This means that increasing revenue isn’t always a solution to cash flow problems,and can actually exacerbate them. Increasing revenue to solve small business financial problems is desirable in the long term, but will only help in the short term if the revenue increase can be obtained without substantially increasing costs or if your business operates on a chiefly cash basis. If you extend credit to your customers, the additional costs required to grow your revenue can easily lead you into a cash position that gets worse before it gets better.

What about reducing costs as a solution to improving financing problems? For most businesses, reducing costs, if it can be achieved without reducing revenue, or reducing costs associated with unprofitable revenue is of utmost importance. Not only do costs directly impact the bottom line, they can reduce the operating efficiency of the business, large or small. Traditionally the largest business expense is labor. While this rule isn’t always true, the majority of business owners can attest to the fact that labor costs are what keep them awake at night. The problem is reducing labor costs while protecting revenue.

The other cost that is especially troubling for many small business owners is taxes. In fact the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), who would be a position to know about such matters, ranked taxation issues as one of the three leading causes of small business bankruptcies. Reducing the tax burden by any legal means is vital to the long term success of your small business. This alone can reduce your financial problems to the point where cash flow problems disappear altogether.

Many small business use some form of financing to finance growth or smooth out the bumps in their cash flow picture. Weather the cash flow problems are caused by expanding operations, inefficiencies, or seasonal business cycles financing is another valuable tool available to the business owner to solve their cash flow issues. Financing solutions for small businesses are available in many forms, including lines of credit, loans, and additional investment provided through either equity or debt financing.

No matter the other problems faced by your small business, it’s clear that financing problems will always rank high on the list of problems faced by small business owners. It’s how well you deal with these problems that will determine the success you experience in your small business.