Inside Sales Know-How To Convert Your International Leads From A Distance

Extending the theme of taking small steps to international business, in this article I share some of my experiences as a HappyOrNot Reseller. Five years of following-up on inbound leads from the UK and converting to repeat orders while being located in Finland.

When we founded Xport in 2014, one of our first customers was HappyOrNot, with whom we signed a Reseller agreement for the UK. This would involve us actively prospecting for new leads and handling inbound leads via HappyOrNot has an active marketing schedule to create interest and generate leads, so inside sales became the main focus of our activity.

Respond To The Lead Quickly

Mark Wiltshear sitting in front of his laptop making a phone call

Nowadays, with information at our fingertips on the internet, no-one wants to wait very long for information. HappyOrNot pricing is not displayed online, we have a price structure but always make a personal offer to each potential customer. In that case, when we receive a lead, it is important to react to it quickly. If they have expressed interest, then I don’t want that interest to go cold, just because I was slow to respond. Making that first contact quickly will create a good first impression and demonstrate that you are interested in them as a potential customer.

Speak With The Lead In Person, Create A Connection

My first contact at HappyOrNot taught me his technique at the beginning. ‘As soon as the lead comes in, pick-up the phone and give them a call.’ At first, this seemed a little too forward, I thought that if someone has sent an enquiry they might not be ready to discuss it voice-to-voice. I soon learned that I was wrong, making a call early-on can have positive effects:

  • You can assess if they are a realistic prospect, or just curious.
  • You can ensure you offer the correct product/solution for them.
  • You can start to answer their questions, understand their need and explain options (perhaps even start to upsell)
  • You make a person-to-person connection, you are no longer an anonymous email address.

“As soon as the lead comes in, I pick-up the phone and give them a call. To convert leads into customers, I respond quickly, engage the customer to make a personal connection and then keep in regular contact.”

Converting Leads To Customers Requires Perseverance & Patience

Prospecting for HappyOrNot leads at a conference requires the same follow-up work

Sometimes there is a benefit to arranging a video call, so we can ‘meet’ face-to-face and I can share my screen to help the customer understand the HappyOrNot offering. Even when you have incoming leads, those you might expect to be closer to placing an order. There is no guarantee they will commit quickly. Often I find that after I have a spoken to them, provided the required product information and sent a price quote, that is when time seems to slooooow down.

If the initial contact is making an enquiry on behalf of the decision-maker, then there is a matter of waiting for that decision. It is not an ideal situation, but it is not unusual to be at a distance from the decision-maker/budget-controller. It takes time and there is no easy way around it other than to patiently keep in regular contact, send additional information if, or when, it is relevant and be in a position to get the order when it is finally agreed. This can take 3, 6, 9 or 12 months, depending on the product or service and the size of the purchase, but this perseverance often pays-off.

Using Customer Service To Create New Leads & Repeat Business

Once the lead has become a customer my work is not finished. HappyOrNot has a minimum service agreement of one year and I benefit when my customers renew their agreement. During the year, I try to make regular contact with my customers to check that everything is going OK. It gives me an opportunity to troubleshoot any issues, answer any questions and make sure the HappyOrNot service is an integral part of their business, so they will want to continue in future years.

Quite often, the customer will reply with a quick email that ‘everything is fine, thanks for checking’ but the regular contact makes it a lot easier if there is a problem and when it comes to discussing the service renewal. It also leads to this customer being a reference within their organisation. I’ve received emails saying ‘I saw your machine and got your contact details from…’ If the aftersales service was not good enough, then maybe these introductions would no come quite so easily.

If you are receiving international leads/enquiries and need an extra pair of hands to convert them into customers, then I can help. Use the button below to reach out and let me know how I can help.

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