If you don’t already have a healthy and consistent online lead strategy, the COVID-19 pandemic has probably hit your business very hard. While there have likely been massive challenges for your business, there is an upside to this downturn for your business.
Now is the perfect time to upgrade your sales processes to include online lead generation for five reasons.
- Face-to-face and networking sales are going to struggle for a while
- More people are actively engaging online than ever before
- It’s cheaper than it usually is, making the learning process more affordable
- You’ll more likely have the time and attention to do it right and build the full system.
- It won’t take away from your current sales strategy but will enhance it as things come back online.
If you want to get started with online lead generation (or take it to the next level), this article will show you how to do just that. There’s no need for marketing fluff and jazz hands, just a simple system that works.
This system has three phases that need to be taken in this sequential order. I don’t want to overwhelm you completely, so in this article, I’m going to introduce all three phases. However, today we’re going to really dig into Phase 1.
Here are the three phases.
Phase 1: Build an Online Sales Funnel. The first thing you need to do is build an online sales funnel to efficiently capture, compel, and convert browsers into buyers! This sales funnel will be the centerpiece of your new strategy and will do most of the heavy lifting. Teeing you up with fresh hot leads in your inbox each morning.
There are five parts to an effective funnel, and I’ll walk you through each one in detail in just a moment.
Phase 2: Fill Your Online Sales Funnel. “If you build it, they will come” only works for Kevin Costner and baseball fields. In Phase 2, you unlock your new online sales funnel’s power using results-oriented strategies to fill it up! You need to find cost-effective ways to drive traffic and get them into the funnel.
Phase 3: Sell More than Ever Before. Finally, phase 3 is selling, but this time it’s at a whole new level. There are a few changes you need to make to your existing sales process to optimize it for online leads. And when you do, You and your sales team, if you have one, will be able to sell more than ever. And if you don’t have a sales team, you’ll probably have to build one pretty soon. Fortunately, your new lead machine makes that easier than ever!
Let’s dive into Phase 1.
Phase 1: Build an Online Sales Funnel
This is the exact strategy I use to get incredible results for my business and my clients. While in this article, I can’t prove why it works in virtually every single industry, trust me when I say, I’ve seen it work in virtually every single industry. B2B or B2C doesn’t matter; the core strategy is the same.
The graphic at the top of this article shows all five parts of an online sales funnel. Now, let’s walk through each one.
Part 1: A Clear Brand Message
All effective marketing starts with a clear message, and that’s where we’ll start with part 1 of our online sales funnel.
I’m sure you are pretty sick of the word “pivot” by now. It seems like everyone is using it. Here’s the bigger problem, we are using the word pivot right now in the context of new products and services. That’s fine in the short run, but the smart players are looking at how they need to pivot their marketing and messaging to sell their existing products and services in the new normal.
To do that, you need to create or clarify your brand messaging.
Here are the three most important things you can do to create clarity around your brand proposition in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic
First, refocus on the problem you solve for your customers rather than how you solve it. In good times, most businesses default to focusing too much on the solutions they provide or even their own problems. What you need to do now is set your sights squarely on the problems you solve for them.
Next, address how that problem looks different now for your customers (the new normal is affecting them too)
Finally, consider the lasting effects this pandemic will have. Many in both the B2B and B2C spaces will notice a greater focus on safety, security, hygiene, certainty, and reliability. Don’t get too mired in the weeds either. Some customers are out there looking for a new opportunity for disruption, just like you.
The tool I use with every new client is the SB7 framework from StoryBrand. It uses basic story structures to help you instantly connect with your customers. I highly recommend it.
Part 2: A Conversion-First Website
Everyone and their brother is selling all kinds of fancy website stuff these days like mobile-first, search engine optimized, and beautiful isometric design. I’m not against any of those. In fact, I use all three. But I am against them taking the spotlight away from the one thing that truly matters on your website. Your website’s main job is to convert browsers into leads.
A conversion-first website puts first things first, sales.
This principle acts as a filter for the words, sections, images, design, and technologies you should use on your website. Do they result in more leads, and do those leads buy?
In your new online sales funnel, you will need to redesign your website home page and maybe a product/service page or two with a conversion-first mindset. Identify the one thing you want them to do on that page (hint it’s probably some form of “buy now” or “call today”). Then make that the most prominent button on the whole page. You’ll probably want several of the same buttons. Only add content to the page that is consistent with your brand message (from Part 1) AND inspires your browsers to take action.
Part 3: A Lead Generator
The Lead Generator is the most overlooked part of the online sales funnel. Still, it is critical for your success. We want to jump straight to selling, but that’s a sure way to waste a lot of money on advertising.
Instead of trying to interrupt your prospects and hard sell them, give them something valuable for free.
This is exactly how a lead generator works. It gives something of value to your prospective customers in exchange for their contact information.
Example lead generators include:
- an eBook (my personal favorite for generating great leads on a budget),
- a white-paper,
- a video series, or
- a special deal
You can deliver it as a popup and a section on your home page. You will want to create a specific page to allow people to signup for your lead generator. This is called a landing page, and you will use this page extensively in Phase 2 as you start to fill your funnel.
Landing pages are an incredibly effective strategy for attracting leads who may not have given your sales pitch the time of day. These same users are willing to download some useful content that you provide. And when they do, they’ll give you their email address and phone number.
Congratulations! You now have new leads! Now, it’s time to warm them up. To do that, you will use Part 4 of your online sales funnel, the Automated Email Sequence.
Part 4: An Automated Email Sequence
An automated email sequence is a set of emails that you write and program in advance. You do the work once. Then the automated email sequence automatically starts when someone requests access to your lead generator, requests a quote, or books an appointment.
Then a series of 4-5 carefully crafted emails send automatically over the next week or two to your new lead.
In your emails, you will warm up your new leads by
- explaining the problem, you solve for them,
- sharing stories of how you solved that problem for others (testimonials),
- overcoming their most common objections, and
- getting them to call you or schedule an appointment.
Think about that. With an automated email sequence, ALL of this happens without a single person on your sales team or in your office having to lift a finger making your new lead system infinitely scalable.
With an automated email sequence, ALL of this happens without a single person on your sales team or in your office having to lift a finger making your new lead system infinitely scalable. Click To Tweet
Part 5: A Story-Based Sales Script
This part is where it gets good. Really good.
Selling is all about persuading the human mind. Story is absolutely the best way to do that, and since you did the heavy lifting of clarifying your brand story at the beginning. You can now easily select stories that will instantly connect your prospect with you both intellectually and emotionally. Doing this also allows you to quickly side-step objections and close the deal.
And yes, it’s a “script.” If you sell by yourself, a script will dramatically increase your closing consistency, so you close more deals and make more money.
If you have a sales team, using a script allows you to get everyone on the same page following the same process hitting that same consistency at scale. Making hiring and assessing your sales reps much easier than your current sink-or-swim, make-it-up-as-we-go approach.
A well-developed script will help even your greenest sales reps to establish rapport, build trust, seek out the customer’s pain points, solve those pain points, overcome objections, and close the deal. And it will allow them to do it consistently day in and day out.
Phase 2: Fill Your Online Sales Funnel
There are many, many opportunities to fill your online sales funnel. While some are “free” and others “paid,” they all cost something. When consulting with my clients, I always say every strategy costs time or money. The key is to find the most efficient route so that when you invest your time or money, you get a high return.
Here are just a few of the most common strategies.
- Paid advertising on search engines like Google and social media platforms like Facebook
- Organic search and social media posting
- Direct outreach to industry lists or on social media platforms like LinkedIn or Instagram
- Influencer platforms on YouTube or Instagram
- A defined referral strategy leveraging your existing customer base
- A defined affiliate program allowing other businesses to benefit from referring clients to you
You don’t have to engage in all of these strategies (and most businesses shouldn’t). You just need to find the one (or a few) that consistently gives you a great return, and you need to push that strategy as hard as you can.
Phase 3: Sell More than Ever Before
This may seem obvious, but so many marketers and businesses stop at Phase 2. You have to monitor and optimize your funnel, you have to call your leads, and you have to close deals. If all you get is a bunch of “engagement” and a new expense, you’re doing it wrong. Sometimes a simple fix can dramatically improve performance. And sometimes, there is a trial and error process as you dial in your new system. In any case, this has to become part of what you do on an ongoing basis. It’s not set it and forget it. It’s set it, improve it, and benefit from it greatly!
If your sales are suffering right now and you need to find a way to increase your revenue, don’t wait any longer. If you have an online lead system, but something tells you it should be working better, you are probably right. Give us a call and let us take a look at your current marketing and sales system. We’ll review it for you free of charge!
Why you need an effective online lead strategy
The 3 phases to build an effective online lead strategy
All great marketing starts with clarity
How to get your website working
How to generate leads online
Why you need an automated email sequence
Every online sales funnel should end with a story based sales script