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Why You’re Not Converting Leads to Customers; P.S. It’s Not What You Think

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Trying to figure out why those promising leads aren’t converting to customers? It’s a struggle about as old as business itself. Yet, even with all the fancy tools and techniques that promise to close the gap between businesses and their customers’ money, this ultimate business struggle seems to stubbornly persist.

Converting leads to customers in your small businessSo, before I go on, I’ll just say here that this is not a post about landing page optimization, sales funnels, nor the latest in social media marketing, PPC, or email campaigns. This is a post about looking at the things that matter the most to your conversion process.

In many cases, the reasons behind low customer interest and weak sales are easy to spot. When you are consistently not converting leads to customers, nine times out of ten, it’s due to some fundamental flaws in the business itself. Period.

The problem is that many business owners don’t see this. They may be seeking solutions, but are looking at all the wrong things in all the wrong places. They download reports, attend webinars, read books and blogs by industry experts, consult with peers, try to stay on top of the latest marketing trends and techniques… Yet, for all of their information and for all of their investment of time, energy, and even money, at the end of the day, nothing seems to be working, or at least not working as well as others claim.

If you find yourself nodding your head at this description, or if you are struggling to figure out why your leads aren’t converting into paying customers, then pay close attention to the following points. Chances are your business is off in one or more of these areas:

Six Good Reasons Why You’re Not Converting Leads to Customers

1. You haven’t identified your ideal customer. You still haven’t quite figured out what your business wants to be when it grows up. You may have some general idea as to who you are targeting, but you haven’t narrowed it down to that one customer profile. This is a problem, because once you are clear about who you are targeting, only then can you adjust your content and calls to action so that they speak directly to this person. It also helps to ensure that the products and services you are offering are in line with what your target audience really wants and needs.

2. You haven’t established if there is actual demand for your products/services. In other words, you’re putting the horse in front of the cart. You started building a business around a product or service you think will be wanted or needed by your target market. Once you have identified your ideal customer, it’s essential that you go through some process of testing for potential interest and demand.

3. You haven’t defined your brand well enough. Many business owners confuse branding with finding a niche. While properly identifying your niche is important, in most cases, it will not be enough to make your target market believe your business is credible, identify with it in some way, and remember it when it’s not right in front of them. This is where effective branding comes in.

4. You haven’t narrowly defined your goals. Your efforts are too scattered. You are trying to do too many things without sufficient understanding about what you are trying to accomplish with these strategies. Don’t just have a free download on your site, build up an email list, spend your lunch break on LinkedIn, because that’s what everyone.. and his mother… and his grandmother… and the ten year-old down the street are doing. You need to have a very clear plan. The biggest problem with taking on so much without a clear game plan is that you can’t give your full attention and energy to the actions that can potentially create some real customer conversion.

5. You aren’t speaking your customer’s language. You don’t know how your target market talks about the problems, concerns, or wishes you are trying to address with your business’ products/services. I mean this literally. If the words, images, or other cues within your calls to action do not speak directly to your ideal customer, then chances are they will be ignored. This goes even if the product or service you are offering is something that you target market wants.

How do you get this information? Listen to the conversations your potential customers are already having on social media, on their personal websites, in the comments sections of articles, in the street. Create assumptions and then test them to see if you are right.

6. You are trying to reach your customer in the wrong places. Before you sign up for yet another social media network, or you pitch a blogger a guest post idea, or you take the time to make a comment on a post or article, or you make a YouTube video… stop, and think about how likely it is that your targeted market will see it. A lot of micro business owners get tripped up in this area. You have to make an effort to find out where your target market spends time online, as well as where they will be most receptive to your content, messages, and calls to action. This is not about the number of eyeballs that will see your ad. It’s all about how receptive people will be to your advertisements and content.

Once you have these six things in place, it will be so… much… easier… to develop a marketing plan or a sales funnel that truly converts those leads into paying customers. You’ll know what to offer, how to offer it, when to make the offer, and where to make it. It will take some work and persistence. But, if you’re not converting leads to customers, then it’s a necessary process to a successful, sustainable business.

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Comments (4)

  • Susan,
    When talking about a website, I know you began this discussion with the fact that this isn’t necessarily an optimization issue. But surely sometimes problems with a business website must come down to simple lack of traffic.

    • Hi Heather,

      Definitely! If you don’t have traffic, your business website won’t get you very far. But figuring out the most effective ways to get traffic THAT CONVERTS to your site starts and ends with solving the fundamental issues I mentioned in the post.

      Many, many online business owners under-perform and even fail simply because they don’t know how to bring the right traffic to their sites and what to do with that traffic once it’s there. Optimizing your site for search is part of the picture… optimizing your site’s calls to actions is another part… Your content, another…etc

      But these things are all pieces of a much bigger picture. It’s very hard to fit all the pieces of a puzzle together when you don’t know what the big picture is supposed to look like.

  • Hi Susan,

    I agree with the premise of targeting the right audience. The person starting a business should have done the proper research to make sure that the niche is viable and that the product they are giving away or selling, as the case may be, is in demand.

    Getting targeted traffic is key, without that, you won’t make sales.

    Great article and it will help many people to figure out what’s going on with their lack of sales and traffic.

    Thank you,
    Geri Richmond

    • Hi Geri,

      I think many business owners doing business online mistake traffic for leads. Just because you are able to get someone to your site or landing page, doesn’t necessarily mean that the person is a lead. It’s like saying anyone who walks by a restaurant is a potential customer.


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