3 tips to prevent leads from slipping out of your sales funnel

Is your sales funnel a great big loser?

by Inc. Magazine

The flow of leads moving from marketing to sales to close is often described as a funnel, with many potential customers entering the top, and the field slowly narrowing as less qualified leads opt out. But what if your small business’s funnel is more of a sieve, allowing perfectly good leads to slip through before your team can reach them? This phenomenon is all too common; by some measures, fewer than 30 percent of leads ever reach the end of the funnel.

Today, we’re offering three tips to help you patch your funnel and ensure that your qualified leads get the attention they deserve and are ultimately converted into loyal customers.

Capture data

Before you can grade the quality of a lead, you need some background details about your prospective customers. These details are generally divided into two categories:

  • Who they are: This data category includes demographics and contact info—everything from email addresses and geographic location to industry, title, and business size.
  • How they interact with you: A prospect’s behavior on your website can tell you a lot about how ready they are to seal the deal. Assign points to consumer actions such as viewing multiple pages, downloading content, requesting product info, and the like. Score your leads based on the points they’re accumulating. The more points, the more qualified the lead. Make sure your sales team knows which leads have the highest scores—and are reaching out to those prospects ASAP.

Keep in mind that different leads will engage with you in different ways and at different times, so give them plenty of ways to do so. Make sure email forms are readily available on your website, as well as phone numbers, live chat windows, and links to social media—whatever you have the ability to provide.

Invest in automation

Opportunities come quickly and disappear even faster, so it’s critical to reach out to prospects while you are fresh on their mind. The numbers are staggering—responding to a lead within 5 minutes of their first contact makes them 21 times more likely to convert than if you wait 30 minutes. By automating your responses to incoming leads you can make sure the qualified prospects get the attention they need before they have a chance to leak out of your funnel.

There are plenty of marketing automation platforms to choose from, and most also do a great job at capturing the data mentioned in step one. InfusionSoft is a popular example of an inclusive marketing platform designed for small businesses, and AT&T’s Messaging ToolkitSM—also built for small businesses—gathers data and manages marketing tasks via leads’ preferred channels across mobile platforms. These and other tools can give you the data and speed you need to keep your leads moving through the funnel.

Invest in lead generation

Some leads disappear quickly because they weren’t great to begin with—this is the case with about 75 percent of the leads that enter your funnel. Investing in online lead generation can boost the percentage of interested, qualified leads that come your way. Try some of these strategies for connecting to potential clients:

  • Create a blog with content relevant to your audience—and populate it often.
  • Get active on social media, sharing your content and connecting with prospects.
  • When you have valuable materials to share on your website—user guides, ebooks, etc., require visitors to provide contact information to download them. This will build your list of interested prospects and provide demographics to help you target your audience.

Sure, it’s important to attract a lot of leads—but unless you’ve tailored your marketing efforts towards the people who are most likely to find your services relevant, you’ll find yourself flooded with contacts that will never make it through the funnel.

Change your odds

Managing leads in a leaky funnel is a lot like playing the lottery—you’re relying more on luck than on a firm understanding of probability. The good news is that quality inbound lead generation, data gathering, and automation can help you turn million-to-one odds into opportunities to meaningfully connect with a smaller but more valuable pool of leads, boosting your sales and growing your business.

How do you manage your funnel? Have you found a powerful way to attract and convert leads? Comment below—we’d love to hear about it.

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