How to Convert Leads Into Sales

How to Convert Leads Into Sales

Although salespeople have historically reported that prospecting is one of their biggest challenges, some data trends are showing a shift in this perception. 

For some, leads seem more plentiful than ever — but finding a ready buyer is another challenge entirely.

Today’s B2B buyer is savvier and more independent than ever before, choosing to withhold their first contact with a sales team until they’re nearly 70% of the way through the buying process. 

They conduct their own research on their own timeline. The buying signals that once indicated a promising lead worth qualifying now promise very little about a potential conversion. 

Initial interest is easy to come by, but converting leads into sales is decidedly harder. 

In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about how to convert leads into sales with today’s B2B buyer, including specific strategies to analyze and optimize your current approach. 

Here’s what we’ll cover:

Sales Process for Converting Leads Into Sales

Most sales teams follow the same general framework for converting leads into sales, but the specifics of the process can vary widely.

For example, B2B leads can cost anywhere from $31 to $811 to convert to a closed-won deal.

Average conversion rates have a big range, too, with many under 2%, but spanning all the way up to nearly 8%. 

how to convert leads into sales: average conversion rate vs. industry

In order to effectively and reliably convert leads, your team needs to have a common understanding of their sales goals. They also need to know the specific goals of each stage of the sales process, and how they help generate overall conversions. 

Initial Contact

Today’s B2B buyer is looking for value in every interaction; in fact, nearly 80% of buyers say that it’s “critical” or “very important” that the sales rep they work with acts as a trusted advisor and adds value to their business. 

Buyers want to educate themselves and make their own decisions. They want to feel like they’re in control of the purchasing process and will gravitate toward brands that make it easy for them to do so in a polite, professional, and relevant way. 

Sales and marketing teams can use this to their advantage by strategically placing personalized, high-value content where they know their buyers do their research, and offer it for free in exchange for their basic contact information. 

Some sales and marketing teams formalize this strategy with a lead magnethow to convert leads into sales: lead magnetThat being said, this isn’t the only way to make initial outreach with leads. The important point to remember is to offer value in places where you know they’ll find it. This may be through a video on your website, a blog post, or a social media conversation. 

Once you’ve captured their contact data, it’s important that you connect with the lead as soon as possible. But how quickly should you contact inbound leads?

The sooner the better.  how quickly should you contact inbound leads? the five minute ruleLead response time has a big impact on how receptive a lead ultimately is to your outreach, as well as how likely they will be to ultimately convert to the next stage. 

cursor-clickEliminate the guessworkKnow when recipients read your emails, click on links, and view attachments

Qualifying Leads

Once you successfully make contact with a lead, it’s time to start qualifying them. 

When you qualify a lead, you ask questions to better understand the lead’s pain points, goals, needs, challenges, and ideal outcomes. 

There are many frameworks that sales reps can use to qualify leads. Some of the most common ones include BANT, MEDDICC, and CHAMP. Most of them center around attributes from your organization’s ideal customer profile and buyer personasqualifying leads: ideal customer profile and buyer personasOnly leads who are well-qualified and clearly represent a good fit for your solution should move forward to the next stage. 

The more well-qualified leads your team moves through the pipeline, the higher your overall conversion rate will be. 

Poorly-qualified leads, on the other hand, are a big risk to successful conversions. 

Nurturing Unqualified Leads

That being said, all hope isn’t lost for unqualified leads (not all of them, at least). 

Many leads, for example, represent an overall great fit for your product, but their timing may be off. 

If you encounter leads in your pipeline who are not yet qualified, but may be in the future, you can increase your chances of converting them later down the line if you nurture them.

Lead nurturing is the process of keeping leads engaged with valuable, relevant content until they’re ready to engage in the buying process with more commitment. 

Lead Nurturing Tips

Sales and marketing teams that learn how to nurture their leads effectively generate more sales opportunities at a lower cost. 

how to convert leads into sales: lead nurturing

Keep the following tips in mind as you design your lead nurturing strategy. 

  • Be on Time: Remember, the amount of time it takes your team to respond to a lead can have a big impact on how likely they are to convert. Just because a lead isn’t ready to buy, doesn’t mean you should move them to the back burner. Keep in timely contact with each lead that you’re nurturing. 
  • Remember to Personalize: By that same token, nurtured leads deserve just as much personalized attention as those further down the pipeline. Each interaction should feel individualized to the lead, and targeted to meet their needs. 
  • Teach, Don’t Sell: Though it may seem counterintuitive, the last thing you want to do with leads in a nurture funnel is try to give them a hard sell. This is more likely to scare them away than encourage them to convert. Instead, leverage your educational content like webinars, blog posts, and whitepapers. These resources will help position you as a thought leader and authority to leads who are still evaluating your brand. 
  • Track Your Data: Nurturing leads shouldn’t be a guessing game. Just like everything in sales, the lead nurturing process should be tracked and analyzed on a regular basis to optimize its effectiveness. Data-driven insights can help you determine how to tweak your content, timing, or other factors to be more engaging to your target audience. 

As you design your lead nurturing strategy, be sure to include multichannel touchpoints (e.g., email, social media, SMS, etc.) to maximize your chances of reaching as many as possible. 

Understanding Pain Points

In order to convert leads, regardless of where they are in the sales pipeline, you need to have a deep understanding of the specifics of their pain pointshow to convert leads into sales: understand pain pointsOf course, your sales and marketing teams should know the basics of these challenges based on your ICP and buyer personas. But converting leads is about more than just knowing the general gist of a buyer’s issues. 

During the qualification process and beyond, it’s important to ask open-ended sales questions that help get to the heart of what a prospect really needs. how to convert leads into sales: ask open-ended questionsThe better you understand their pain points and unique challenges in their words and from their own perspective, the more carefully you can tailor your offer to their specific needs. 

Present the Solution

One of the most important steps in converting leads into sales is presenting your solution in a way that’s tailored to the buyer and their needs. 

Focus on the way the solution benefits them, rather than the product’s features and specs. And use real data and relevant case studies to back up your claims. 

Although this step is all about what you can offer them, the focus still needs to be completely on the buyer. 

Handle Objections

Sales objections are a normal part of the sales process. Great salespeople expect them and have responses prepared for the most common ones. 

how to convert leads into sales: handle objections

Keep in mind, though, that a canned or rehearsed response can easily come across as indifferent, unempathetic, and even untrustworthy. When they raise an objection, the prospect needs to feel like you truly hear and understand their concerns. 

how to convert leads into sales: overcome objections

Sales scripts for overcoming objections are helpful, but always remember to personalize them in the context of the sales conversation at hand. 

Follow-up

Sending follow-up emails is one of the most important things a salesperson can do to convert leads into sales.

In fact, 80% of sales require 5 follow-ups before they successfully close. 

Shockingly, though, less than 10% of sales reps stick with their prospects this long. 

how to convert leads into sales: follow-up

The data doesn’t lie: a well-defined follow-up strategy is a very effective method for converting more leads into sales. 

Close

Closing the deal is the final stage of the sales process. And while some salespeople are intimidated by this step, the close should actually be relatively straightforward — provided you’ve done your due diligence and followed sales best practices up until this point. 

Remember to be as transparent, clear, and communicative during this stage as you have been throughout the whole process. 

Do your best to remove any friction from the process (i.e., making e-signing available, writing contracts in simple terms, etc.), and stick with them as they transition to the onboarding process.

It’s also important to schedule regular follow-ups after closing. Just because you converted the lead to a sale doesn’t mean they’re no longer your concern. 

Remember — you built an intentional relationship with this customer, and keeping in touch with them will help maintain it. 

How to Calculate Lead Conversion Rate 

Use the formula below to calculate lead conversion rate:  how to calculate lead conversion rate: formula

The formula written out looks like: (Number of converted leads within a time period / Total number of leads in that time period) x 100

It’s important to note here that this formula is somewhat subjective. Your sales and marketing teams need to be clear on how you define what constitutes a “converted” lead. 

Are you measuring overall conversions (e.g., closed-won deals)? 

Or are you measuring conversions from stage to stage? 

Are you tracking the conversion from marketing-qualified lead (MQL) to sales-qualified lead (SQL)?  marketing qualified leads and sales qualified leadsIn reality, it’s important to track all of these metrics. But it’s even more important to be clear about which conversion you’re referring to when using the formula. 

How to Convert Leads Into Sales

The following sales best practices will help you convert leads into scales. 

1. Understand Your Leads

Personalization in the sales process is more important to B2B buyers than ever before.  how to convert leads into sales: understand your leadsThe better you understand your leads, the more effectively you can reach them throughout the sales process and convert them to closed-won deals.

Segmenting your leads through strategies like lead scoring can help you personalize your outreach strategies even more.  lead scoring modelYou can also segment your leads by demographic, firmographic, and/or technographic details, or any other criteria that make sense for your target market. 

2. Communicate Effectively

Today’s B2B buyer also expects clear, efficient, and relevant communication. With the average person receiving over 120 emails per day, it’s important that your outreach is effective enough to cut through the clutter and resonate with busy buyers. 

Keep the following tips in mind for effective email outreach:

Mind Your Subject Lines

Sixty-four percent of readers decide whether to open an email based on the subject line alone, and 69% will mark it as spam based on the same. This first impression counts for a lot. Subject lines should be short, personalized, and engaging. 

how to convert leads into sales: effective subject lines

Grab ready-to-use subject lines here:

Open Strong

Aside from the subject line, the opening line of your email is the next most important factor. This will determine whether or not the recipient keeps reading, or moves onto the next message in their inbox.

Skip the small talk and “I hope this finds you well,” and try to find a common connection in your opening line (e.g., a mutual contact, an article you read about their organization, etc.).

Here are some ways you can instantly build rapport in your email opening:  how to convert leads into sales: build rapport

Clearly Call to Action

Email outreach should always include a clear and direct call to action (CTA). This tells the reader exactly what you’d like them to do next and should help convert them to the next stage of the funnel.

Keep the CTA short and sweet, just like the subject line, and use action-oriented language to persuade them to act.  how to convert leads into sales: email CTAsThere are many software tools that can help your sales and marketing teams keep track of the many moving pieces of effective sales outreach. 

Yesware is built to make email outreach seamless between buyers and sellers. With features like multichannel outreach, advanced tracking and analytics, and our prospector tools, your team can keep sales outreach moving forward at every stage of the pipeline.

Tip: Grab ready-to-use email templates that include all of the elements above.

18 Proven Email Templates for SalesWinning email templates for cold outreach, follow-ups, and nurturing relationships – backed by data and real-world examples.

3. Nurture Leads with Content

The quality of your marketing and sales content can have a big impact on how well your team converts leads into sales. Educational, insightful, and thought-provoking material all help position your brand as a leader in your market and a trustworthy business partner. 

Timing is important, too. The right content at the right time can help convert leads from stage to stage all the way to close. 

Here’s the best sales collateral aligned to the buyer’s journeynurture leads with content: sales collateral in the buyer's journeyA sales enablement tool can help your sales and marketing teams organize and make the most of all of their various forms of content. 

4. Leverage Social Proof

Social proof can be a valuable tool for converting leads into sales. how to convert leads into sales: social proofThe more social proof you can provide for your leads, the more likely they will be to ultimately convert; buyers are much more likely to trust other buyers with similar challenges, than they are to trust a sales rep who wants to close a deal. 

Plus, customers that sign on as the result of a positive sales referral from a friend or colleague are incredibly lucrative for your business. how to convert leads into sales: referral statisticsIt’s obviously important that your product and offer are compelling enough to stand on their own against the competition, but social proof can go a really long way in helping build trust with buyers. 

5. Personalize at Scale

There’s no risk of overstating just how important personalization is in the sales process. But many sales teams often find themselves at a crossroads as they grow and scale their businesses — how is it possible to continue high levels of personalization in sales outreach while reaching out to large lead lists? 

In order to succeed in sales, teams need to find the right strategies (and tools) to help them balance these two important tasks. 

For example, email campaigns can send personalized messaging to various recipients at once, using multiple channels.

how to convert leads into sales: personalize at scale with email campaigns

Personalization is no doubt extremely important in each and every interaction, but providing that cannot compromise the team’s overall efficiency and productivity. 

On the other hand, growing your lead list is the only way to grow your business — but it will shrink quickly if you don’t continue to connect with each and every prospect on a personal level. 

Tip: Save email templates in your inbox now so you can start tracking their success.

how to convert leads into sales: email templates

Get the insight you need to perform personalized outreach at scale with Yesware.

And, with real-time alerts, sales reps can optimize their lead response time and capitalize on active buyer engagement. 

6. Follow Up Strategically

We’ve already talked about how important it is to follow up with your leads, but there are specific ways to go about the process that will improve your chances of success. 

Sales reps need to strike a delicate balance between showing that you’re keeping in touch with a prospect versus unintentionally spamming them.

First, it’s important to consider your cadence. Yesware studied data from over 10 million sales emails and compared those that received replies, and those that didn’t. In our sales follow-up statistics study, we found the average cadence below:

how to convert leads into sales: follow-up strategically

This data shows two things:

  1. Spreading out replies by three to four days was more effective than longer gaps between communication, and 
  1. Waiting longer than four days to make contact can lead to a lower response rate.

Yesware data analysis also indicated that the best times to send email based on reply rates are 1pm and 11am.

how to convert leads into sales: best time to send email

The same data also confirmed that lead response time has a significant impact on reply rate, with a <24 response time leading to much higher reply rates than longer ones. 

how to convert leads into sales: follow-up email timing

Yesware can help your team implement an automated follow-up campaign designed to execute your team’s strategy.

7. Implement a CRM Strategy

Your CRM strategy is an outline of the way your team plans to leverage the capabilities of your chosen CRM platformhow to convert leads into sales: implement a CRM strategyIt’s no secret that even the most basic CRM systems have a lot to offer; a CRM strategy is all about using your platform’s specific features to enhance your team’s unique sales process, deepen customer relationships, and improve overall sales success.

In order for your CRM strategy to be effective, it’s important that the platform you use integrates with your email service provider for the most accurate and complete picture of each account. When your inbox and CRM share data, it streamlines the lead generation process and moves deals through the pipeline more efficiently. 

Tip: Add Salesforce to your Outlook or Gmail inbox and eliminate all manual data entry. Learn more here.

How to Analyze and Optimize Your Approach

If you want to convert leads into sales on a consistent, reliable basis, your team needs to engage in regular data analysis. 

Yesware’s reporting and analytics features give sales and marketing teams the in-depth (but easy-to-read) insights they need to identify which outreach components are working in the sales process, and what needs improvement. 

analyze and optimize your approach with reporting

Data-driven decisions are critical for long-term success in sales. Everyone on your team should be on the same page about how and when to track their own sales data, as well as what the expectations are for individual and group analysis. 

Yesware makes it easy to track, manage, and dive into the data that will move your team forward. 

Conclusion

Converting leads into sales requires data-driven strategy and planning, especially with today’s B2B buyer. They expect to be understood and valued before they consider serious sales conversations

While this may be doable for reps who are content to work one deal at a time, it can seem like an unreasonable challenge for sales teams that want to scale efficiently. 

Fortunately, there are tools that can help. Try Yesware for free for personalized outreach at scale, data-driven analysis, and an ever-growing database of enriched leads.

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