If you are like most small business owners (me included), you spend a lot of time, energy and resources on lead generation activities. You write blog posts, share information on social media and attend networking events. You may also be advertising in traditional media, sending direct mail and attending trade shows all to generate interest for your products and services. The goal of these activities is to generate leads.

Now I love leads as much as anyone, but I know leads are only the beginning. As exciting as leads are, sales are better. So lately, we have been working on our sales process to make sure more leads become sales. We’ve been looking at everything from our software tools to the paper forms we use to collect data. Here is what we have come up with so far.

Create a call sheet – I had notes from calls, as well as names and contact information scattered all over my desk on little sheets of paper. It was even worse if someone else answered the phone, mysterious post it notes would appear with a name and a phone number. To organize the information we created a standard call sheet. It outlines the basic information which should be collected every time the phone rings. This includes preliminary details about what they are looking for, who referred them and what the next steps should be after the call.

Now when I come back to the office, there are worksheets which tell me who to call, and more importantly how to prepare for the call so the client doesn’t feel as if they wasted time talking to one of our team members. Even if I take the call, I have found the notes really helpful when I sit down to write a proposal a few hours later.

Organize contact information – We started using Insightly about 6 months ago, primarily to organize our projects. In addition to its strength as a project management tool, it is a great sales tracking tool. Contact information, call notes, opportunity value and reminders to follow up can all be collected in one place.  And even the call sheets, if they are typed instead of hand written, can be attached to the prospect record.

Stay in touch – Not everyone who calls is ready to buy. In the past we simply added all our prospects to our email newsletter list. While the information is interesting, we cover a range topics from social media to graphic design so on any given week the content may not necessarily be the most relevant for an individual prospect. To address this issue, we are working on custom drip campaigns focused on each  of the key areas of our business. We can use the auto responder tool in Contstant Contact to send targeted messages on niche topics every few days to answer questions prospects are likely to have. And since we have been blogging for quite a few years we have a wealth of information we can use for the program, since it is unlikely these new prospects will have seen this information from us before.

Send a proposal – This used to be the most time consuming part of our sales process, pulling together information, pricing and work samples. That isn’t the case anymore. Today we rely on Tinderbox to create and organize our proposals. It was time consuming up front to create all the standard content, but now a comprehensive and professional proposal for web design and branding services can be produced in a matter of minutes. The built in tracking tools even gives me an idea of when to make the follow up phone call.

Don’t dismiss direct mail – Some projects have a fairly quick turn around. We quote something and in just a few days we are working on another new project. But other customers need more time, perhaps to compare our services with others. That’s when direct mail works really well. We keep a stack of postcards and newsletters handy. If it feels as if this is going to be a longer sales process or I am quoting print material I will simply drop one in the mail.

Be prepared – All of this boils down to preparation. Having information and tools ready when the phone rings makes a positive impression on your prospect. Want to learn to more about how we organize our sales process? Listen to the podcast below.