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You get an enquiry, you respond promptly and courteously.Then all goes quiet.You don’t get an appointment, or a call back.What do you do?

The answer for the vast majority of businesses is simply nothing. The lead is lost forever. Some companies may follow up once, perhaps twice. yet in a climate where leads can be in short supply can you really afford for it to be that way. Leads are expensive. Whether you use press advertising, online marketing or leafleting, there is always a cost, and so losing a lead is painful and expensive.

However, if you don’t know this already then read this next sentence very carefully because it is so important to the success of your business. If you understand it, it could represent the single most important change you will ever make to your business.

On average only 23% of consumers who respond to an advert will make a

purchase within the first six months after the enquiry. Twenty three percent. That’s less than one in four prospects buying. However, over the eighteen months that follow the original enquiry almost 90% will buy.

So, if you run your sales and marketing to target only the 23% who are ready to buy within six months (or more likely the 11% who will buy in the first three months), then you are missing out on 75% of the available business.

What do you do about it? How do you change your business to make sure

that you catch not only those buying today, but those ready to buy tomorrow, and the next day.

Actually, it’s not that hard, if you put a good process in place. Start by recognising that different people are at different stages in the buying process. If somebody enquires about a budget price range for new windows, then there’s a pretty good chance that they are at the early stages or researching and planning replacements. Equally, if they respond to an advert for “30% off if you order this week”, then they’ve already got the credit card out and need closing immediately.

I’m going to assume for now that you have a good process for closing the immediate hot prospects, that’s what most windows companies are good at.

So let’s look at the long termers. The leads that are going to take more than three months to convert, and think about where they are in the buying process. They are researching, they are fact finding, they are educating themselves for what will be a relatively high value purchase.

What they don’t need is a salesman. They aren’t ready to buy yet and a hard sell is more likely to put them off forever than persuade them that you are a company to do business with.

They want education. And that’s exactly what you should give them.

Information that will help them make a good choice when it comes to buying. For example, help them to understand the implications of choosing A rated over C rated, trickle vents or no vents.

By providing good quality education rather than a sales pitch you set yourself

apart in your market. When the time arrives that the prospect is ready to buy, you have already built a relationship with them, you have proven your credibility and expert knowledge. There is no guarantee that the job is yours ,and you still need to be competitive. But you are in pole position.

The question then is, how do I do this? It appears at first glance that this is difficult to achieve, and for some it can be. Here’s how to go about it. Start by asking yourself some questions and noting the answers. The questions you need to ask are:

• What are the three things I get asked most often? • What are the three things I wish prospects asked but they never do? • What are the three things that set me apart from my competitors? • What are the three biggest risks of a poor quality job?

Go through your answers, and you’ve got twelve pieces of valuable information

(not sales pitches) to send to your prospects on a regular basis. Perhaps once a week, once a fortnight, whatever you are comfortable with. The key thing to remember is this. The information is solely focussed on helping the prospect with their education. It is not about you, your products or your business.

If this sounds like a lot of work, it need not be. Use good, cheap tools

like autoresponders, or a CMS and you can be up and running very quickly. Alternatively, get someone to do it for you. It’s not expensive and will give you a highly effective, automated marketer to nurture leads until they are ready to buy, and more importantly, ready to buy from you.

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