Acquisition of sales leads is the main goal of a majority of marketing actions, but this is just the beginning of the road towards success. To achieve a real outcome, a permanent customer in this case, it is necessary to launch the entire sales process. We have already written on how to acquire sales leads, how to manage them and today we are going to tell you what to do to reach a final purchasing decision.
The first step to take is the so-called lead classification. Why is it so important? Some of your potential students are ready for purchase while others need more commitment on your part. You will not be able to close the sales process unless you define beforehand what stage a specific lead is at.
But before this happens, it is worthwhile to answer three questions:
- What are the sales opportunities?
- Are sales possible within the short- or long term?
- Do the costs of lead acquisition exceed potential profits?
At this stage, the lead turns into a prospect. What’s the difference? A lead is just a person interested in a language course, who left their contact data with you. On the other hand, a prospect is a classified customer who is getting ready for purchase. How can we achieve this?
Improve conversion of potential contacts
1. Maximize the use of each contact you acquire
I think this is the biggest sin of language schools in the context of the conversion of potential customers into actual customers. At the moment of the acquisition of a new contact, the use of such contact is not maximized. Schools rarely use CRM, in which they might record the course of talks with the customer and also plan the entire schedule of the contacts with customers. The path of working with customers lacks consistency and it happens all too often that after a single reminder and absence of an unambiguous willingness to join the language school, the contact becomes lost somewhere. Not every customer makes the decision at once but waiting for the customer to consider the matter and contact us is going to put us at the customer’s mercy. Assuming a customer hesitates between two schools, and one of them is highly interested in such customers already at the sales process stage, makes great efforts to solicit them and takes care of them, it is easy to guess what decision such customer is going to make.
2. Involve the contacts acquired in the past
There are no better leads than those already acquired;) Remember that acquisition of each new contact generates additional costs for you (in terms of money, time, etc). So if you already have a contact acquired a year, two years ago or even earlier, perhaps it is worthwhile to refresh it. It may turn out a given customer chose another school a year ago, but such school failed to meet their expectations and they were waiting for some form of contact from you! The fact someone once rejected your offer does not mean they are never going to take advantage of it – perhaps that was just not the best moment for them. Meanwhile, it would be worthwhile to stay – even occasionally – in touch with such people – e.g. through a content marketing strategy; but even if you have never done it before, have no fear. It is worthwhile to try it as there is nothing to lose!
3. Maintain close relations
Human nature is designed in such a manner that we like to feel important and adored. But there is a trap here too – it is easy to overdo your efforts and encounter a defensive reaction of customers against obtrusive salespeople. A balance between adoring a potential customer and being an obtrusive salesperson is guaranteed by one highly important feature of relationships – LIKING!
Therefore it is so important for the school to like its customers/potential customers, and for customers to like the school and the people working there. It does not matter how many times you are going to call the customer unless you like each other; so until you hear a straightforward „no”, you should keep calling them because this shows your genuine, honest commitment.
No phone call or e-mail will ever be treated as „pressing” anything into the customer if the relationship between the school and the customer are partner-like. Remember that the more you give of you, the more you are likely to gain, and your entire activity is based on a win-win effect. Therefore each e-mail or phone call to a potential customer should be based on the conviction that you act in the interest of the person you are contacting.
4. Exceed your customers’ expectations
Every consumer has their expectations related to what their collaboration with a given company is going to look like. If their expectations are not matched by reality, they are easily disappointed. However, if in any aspect we manage to exceed those expectations, the customers will be grateful to you, will certainly remember this and perhaps will tell their friends about your school. Such expectations may concern the contacts with the school, service quality, commitment, but also such surrounding aspects as the school’s decor or financial benefits or even gadgets.
5. Offer a free sample of your work
I know some schools offer free demonstration classes; others organize e.g. workshops. Cool! But if for some reason you do not want to do that, you can invent some convenient way to help students avoid the situation of buying a pig in a poke. For example, you can prepare a dedicated movie being a tour around the school, showing teachers at work and what your students receive within the framework of collaboration with the school (customer service, online panel with a mobile application, etc.) or printed materials on that topic produced in an attractive format. Such content helps customers to eliminate the fear of opting for a service which at the moment of signing the contract is virtual and intangible for them.
6. Foster relationships with your actual customers
Bearing in mind that your actual customers still have a huge purchasing potential in the future, you need to foster your relationships with them. A customer is not earned once and for all. They can always resign, go to the competition, or simply feel not taken good care of and willing to try something different, some other school or some other method. While I do not question the teaching methodology (I simply believe you are outstanding methodologists), then counter-intuitively, despite outstanding effects, a student may resign due to average customer service. So try to foster your relationships and surprise students during the school year. When enrollments end, the dust settles and things start to calm down a bit, this is the moment for you to direct your attention to taking care of the acquired customers, so that signing up for the next year becomes a pure formality.
7. Test new solutions
No solution, plan, or method is good to the extent preventing you from attempting to change something in them. I encourage you to try, change the contact paths with customers, design the Customer Journey Map and change its elements, and observe how small changes influence the attained results. Each target group is slightly different, has different expectations and you have to learn for yourselves what interests your customers and what format of communication suits them most.
When working with customers you need to remember that on the other side there is a human being and the specific needs they bring to you. This is how you demonstrate that you really want to meet the needs of potential students but also gain their liking for you. And it is worthwhile to remember that purchasing decisions are mainly based on emotions. If you add to this the consistency in your actions and a pinch of creativity, you have at hand a ready recipe for a success. 😉