Every business owner knows how important it is to attract leads into their funnel. Without a steady flow of new leads, businesses struggle and without a plan to convert those leads to customers businesses die.

Here is a simple, 4 step formula to convert leads to customers.

1.  Connect through Conversation.  The first step in any relationship is to develop a conversation that will allow you to get to know more about each other. This conversation is a two way dialogue of questions and answers that is designed to help each person connect.  The art of engaging a lead in conversation is a well researched area and there are many books that outline how to have a sales conversation. Connecting through conversation creates trust and trust is one of the primary factors for a prospect when deciding to buy. Most often, you shouldn’t just go for the close. Each business has a different nurture cycle, yet one thing to be true is that it requires more than one touch point to convert a lead to a customer.

Most marketers agree that there should be a blend of advertising and publicity (or public relations), which eventually brings a customer and a salesperson together at the point of sale.  A good starting point for thinking about this blend is the ‘Rule of Seven,’ formulated by marketing expert Dr. Jeffrey Lant.   Lant states that to penetrate the buyer’s consciousness and make significant penetration in a given market, you have to contact the prospect a minimum of seven times within an 18-month period.

Read more:  http://www.businessinsider.com/how-many-contacts-does-it-take-before-someone-buys-your-product-2011-7#ixzz3gNPHvLGG

Learn the typical sales cycle in your specific industry. Here’s a great article about the 5 steps to a sales pipeline.

2.  Learn to qualify your leads.  Are you even talking to the right person? Is this person a decision maker? Are they ready to buy? Too often in the sales process, we waste time talking to leads that are unqualified.  Think of it this way — time is money — your money.  When you spend time trying to move someone through your funnel and they aren’t a qualified lead, that is time you could have been spending with a purchaser.

Here’s a great article on qualifying your leads so that you save time and make more money.

3. Learn to convert your leads to customers.  Just because you have a qualified lead doesn’t mean they will buy from you.  So many times in the sales process, qualified leads drop out of the pipeline. One of the most important aspects of converting your lead to a sale is knowing how to ask for the sale. The language you use in the sales process can make or break the sale.  Here are 11 closing phrases that might work for you.

4.  Learn how to nurture your customers.  The sale is over, you have your check, they have their widget.  Done, right? No. Not unless you have a one shot product or service and will never need to sell to them again or have the desire to garner referrals from that customer.  Creating a nurture campaign is critical to ongoing sales and referrals. A custom nurture program includes several different types of outreach to deepen the relationship. The first step to creating a nurture campaign for existing customers is to define the buying cycle.  What are the different products/services that you sell and how do you move your customer through the buying cycle intelligently?  Once you determine the buying cycle, you can then begin to map out the touch points for communication and engagement that will lead the customer to the next sale.

If you can master these 4 steps for your business, you will have greater success and happier customers. While this post is short, once you really dive into the development of each step, you will see that this simple process is also worthy of your concentrated time.  Don’t set yourself up for failure by rushing through the process. Take the time to develop each aspect of the formula and I know you will have greater success.