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Closing Sales at the Bottom of the Inbound Marketing Funnel

By John McTigueJan 19, 2011

We talk a lot about the top of the inbound marketing funnel - strategies to attract people in and convert them to leads. What about the "business end" of the funnel, where you convert leads to paying customers? What are those best practices? Thanks to our recent sales training with Kurlan & Associates, we have a much better idea now of how to close sales deals and, literally, choose our clients.

Pre-Sales Activities

tips for improving lead conversion at the bottom of the inbound marketing funnelOld Think - We were pretty disorganized before our training. We attracted plenty of leads, but we failed to capture much information from our landing pages. As a result, we ended up cold calling leads, or even worse, waiting for them to call us. Bottom line, low lead-to-customer conversion rates.

New Think - We capture more data, and we have employed salesforce automation software to organize our leads, segment them, pre-qualify them and schedule prioritized sales calls. We research our leads prior to calling them to understand their business and assess what they need to do to improve their marketing. Result, fewer lost opportunities and less time wasted following dead-ends.

First Impressions

Old Think - We used to just call, ask our leads what they wanted, then send them a proposal for services. We had some success with this approach, but we also lost a lot of sales to competitors and often ended up with one-off projects rather than retainers.

New Think - Our sales approach is much more consultive now. We have a conversation with our leads seeking to:

  • Pinpoint what the "pain" issues are - what are the real problems that need to be solved? We find out now by asking a lot of questions.
  • Establish initial credibility that we can address and ultimately solve those problems (or not). This helps us qualify client candidates and sets their expectations of us.
  • Start to build a relationship based on credibility and trust.
  • Based on the "warmth" established in the first call, we set the agenda for going forward, including next appointment and steps for going forward. If the lead is unqualified, we move on.

Closing the Deal

Old Think - We used to send our leads a proposal for services and hope they sign it. In many cases, we never heard back from them and wondered why? We spent a lot of time tweaking our proposals, thinking they were the culprit. A lot of head-scratching ensued.

New Think - Now a proposal is just a formality, based on one or more substantive conversations in which we have presented our solution, cost and qualifications and, most importantly, we have obtained confirmation from each lead that our proposed services are on-target, on-budget and needed right away. We may get this done in one conversation or several over time, but the result is always the same - a verbal agreement to move forward. That's when we send them something to sign.

These are general sales strategies that have helped us to improve our closing rates, but we have also learned many important sales tactics that have helped us to convert leads to customers. For me, the critical step is self-realization, that you may think you know how to close sales deals, but there is always room for improvement. Hiring an outside sales consultant, like Kurlan, is an important first step.

How effective is your sales process? What steps have you taken to improve lead conversion rates?

Please contact us to discuss your inbound marketing funnel and ways to improve your lead conversion rates.

Photo credit: ukanda

Additional Topics: Inbound Sales
The Author

John McTigue

With over 30 years of business and marketing experience, John loves to blog about ideas and trends that challenge inbound marketers and sales and marketing executives. John has a unique way of blending truth with sarcasm and passion with wit. You can connect with John via LinkedIn, Twitter and Google Plus.
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