I was inspired to write this blog post today based on the volume of email autoresponders that flooded my inbox a moment ago. Every two or three weeks, I send an email blast out to our massive opt-in email database. To those who are interested, we like to communicate company news, product news, information about upcoming trade shows, information about upcoming sales, etc. If you’re interested in being on the list, go here – http://eepurl.com/hLZQ2. After today’s blast it finally dawned on me that I routinely receive autoresponse emails from about 75 artists who subscribe to our email service. So every email that they receive, automatically gets a response stating something to this effect – ‘Thank you for contacting ____. I will respond to this email within 48 hours. If this is urgent, please contact me at XXX-XXX-XXXX.’
Keep in mind, nobody is being singled out here as this tends to be the typical response…but if this is you, pay attention because I have some information that will help you close more business. Before coming to Frends Beauty I was a sales manager at a software company that made SAAS for sales teams who dealt with time sensitive, competitive inbound leads. Having thousands of customers, access to their SAAS databases, and an in house team of ivy league educated statistics geeks, we were able to identify the NUMBER ONE driver of lead conversion – Speed To Contact. This should come as no surprise. Any time you are shopping a new service, you’re likely shopping multiple providers. And it’s in our nature to give more credence to the first person we chat with, who makes a good impression. Anyone coming afterwards has to then live up to the level of the first person. And that’s hard to do.
So why the blog post about it? Frankly, we want our freelance artist clients to be able to secure as much business as possible. Having a background in sales management, I know a lot about promoting the types of habits that lead to more new business being booked. Utilizing an autoresponder, is not one of them. Unless you are out of town or otherwise unable to answer a new inquiry in a matter of minutes…you should not be using an autoresponder as a way of getting back to inquiries. It is impersonal and does not leave your new sales lead with the warm and fuzzy feeling you want them to have. And they are most certainly reaching out to your local competitors. If those local competitors are better at responding to inquiries in a more timely manner…you are losing business. I do not mean to come off harshly at all, but it is the truth. If you are unable to contact your new leads by phone, or at the very least with a personally written email in a matter of minutes, your chances of earning their business decrease significantly. And this decrease compounds itself until it reaches 0% — when your comeptition earns it.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. There are some very easy steps that you can take to earn more business, starting right now.
— Turn off your autoresponder and rid yourself of the false sense of safety that it gives you.
— Very quickly, realize that time is of the essence each time you get a new lead and if you do not drop what you are doing the moment you receive it, you probably won’t secure that business.
— Connect your business email to your smartphone. If you don’t have a smartphone, get a smartphone.
— Set your smartphone up to vibrate and beep when your business email receives a new message.
— Stop what you are doing when your smartphone vibrates and beeps, and read the new message.
— If the message is from a new lead, call it. Immediately. Not later on. Not after you are finished doing the dishes. Unless you are currently working on a client, stop what you are doing, and call your lead.
And this is how serious I am…I bring facts. Yes, FACTS! While the internet is chalk full of bullshit and conjecture…I…Bring…Facts! So here are some from a study at the software company I worked for that I think you will find incredibly interesting:
— Sales leads called under 60 seconds showed an astounding 391 percent improvement over average conversion rates.
— Sales leads called between 60 and 120 seconds after they were generated converted 160 percent more often than the average.
— If sales leads cannot be reached within the first few minutes, attempting contact quickly is still valuable. Leads called within 24 hours are still 17 percent more likely to convert than those that were not.
— 88 percent of sales leads that eventually convert were called within the first 24 hours. This does not imply that all of these leads convert within 24 hours, but rather establishing the relationship at this juncture is critical to conversion — days, weeks or months down the line.