Key rules for converting leads into sales - part 1

By Helen Fisher on May 25, 2018

Taking the right actions will turn leads into future clients.

Getting some new, high-quality financial adviser leads for your business is always exciting and if they’re used well, those leads will drive business success. But a lead is worth nothing to your bottom line unless you convert it into a client.

Lead conversion is a topic on which researchers have dedicated plenty of time over the years. According to research company Marketo, only 25% of leads are ready to take the next step.

Other sources suggest the average conversion numbers are even lower, with one marketing firm claiming that 79% of leads will peter out into nothing unless you take positive action to nurture them.

What makes a lead not convert?

Before we look at ways to convert more of the IFA leads you buy into revenue generating clients, it’s worth taking a moment to understand the constraining factors. What’s stopping them? Of course, there could be any number of reasons, but in the majority of cases, they fall into the following four broad categories:

Timing – the customer feels that this is not the right time to go forward.

Cost – the customer feels your pricing does not match their perceived value of the service they will be receiving in return.

Trust – this is something that is earned over time. Some people struggle to trust themselves, so there is not much chance of them trusting you from the get-go with all their financial and personal information. Lack of trust can be exacerbated if you do not demonstrate the veracity of your claims, or you are backward in providing full information about yourself, either in person or online.

Authority – this is closely related to the issue of trust.  If you do not show yourself to be an authority in your field of expertise, leads will be turned away.

Armed with this information, we can now explore some ways to increase those conversion rates.

1) Warm up your leads prior to sale

Providing value to your financial adviser leads and potential clients achieves a number of goals. If your website or blog contains useful and valuable information about current news and trends in the finance world, it helps establish authority, and therefore trust. It also means that even if now is not the right time for a lead to approach you for your services, you are building a relationship with them. When they feel the time is right, they are more likely to go to you than elsewhere.

The most common strategy here is to create regular blog posts, mail shots and web content on the topics that matter to your target market. What are those topics? That’s all about understanding your buyer personas, and is a discussion for another day.

2) Use testimonials and reviews to build trust and grow your brand

Brand recognition is not all about the big companies selling consumer products in the high street stores. Even if you are a single person enterprise, that means you are your own brand, and it is arguably even more important to build that trust and recognition.

A mechanism called social proof can be hugely effective here. The strategy refers to those online reviews and comments that you see on everything from corporate websites to hotels. 90% of consumers say their purchasing decisions are influenced by reviews. Now you might think that applies only to those purchases on Amazon and the like, but think again.

Social proof is backed up by solid psychological theory and the human tendency to take cues from our peers as to how to proceed. Service businesses are increasingly catching on to the idea, and a look at the website for any provider of financial or, for example, legal or web services is likely to contain those reviews and endorsements.

3) Nurture those leads

Leads can be like tiny seedlings – they need care and attention, particularly in the early stages, or they are likely to wither away. We learned this from those early statistics, so it is worth thinking what we can do to nurture them and help then to thrive.

Time is of the essence here. Serial entrepreneur Ken Krogue claims that a lead is 100 times less likely to convert if you leave it 30 minutes before following up on their enquiry. Leave it five hours, and that multiplier increases to 3,000. Best practice is to respond within five minutes – leads don’t just cool down, they spoil like fresh fruit if you leave them any longer than absolutely necessary.

But nurturing leads isn’t just about reacting to contacts and enquiries. Proactively stay in touch using mailshots and emails – but make sure they are targeted to specific client sectors who are at specific points in the sales funnel. Communications need to be relevant, useful and welcome. If they are not, they become junk, and that does more harm than good.

4) Qualify your leads

All leads are not the same. Some are ready to proceed and become clients right now, some might be ready to do so with a little persuasion and others are currently simply at the “wanting information” stage. These are often categorised as sales qualified, marketing qualified and information qualified leads (SQL, MQL and IQL).

Each type of lead is valuable in its own way, but each will also require a different type of treatment as it is at a different stage in the sales funnel. Using a qualification process means you will be devoting the right kind of attention to each category of lead, delivering value and developing trust.

5) Understand your leads

Ultimately, improving lead conversion comes down to some basic principles that we see time and again in any aspect of sales and across multiple industries, not just the financial services sector. It is about placing yourself in the client’s shoes and understanding their needs, questions and concerns.

Get that right, and you are in a better position to convert more of those leads into clients, while at the same time, bolstering your own reputation and brand image.

Find more tips in part two of our series.

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Lead Tech provides high-quality leads for the financial advice, equity release, retirement and private medical insurance markets.

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