Last week, I went to visit my father in the hospital after he had knee replacement surgery. A few minutes after I got there, they transferred him to a different room.
This is when things got more than a little ridiculous.
He met with his nurse, whose shift was ending within an hour. Dad was supposed to have his leg placed in a machine that would gently exercise the knee.
Between the nurse and three other people in scrubs, they couldn’t figure out how to use the damn machine. Finally, a fifth person came with a different model and they managed to get him set up.
When the new nurse arrived, she met with the exiting nurse to go over my father’s chart, asking a bunch of questions and scribbling notes onto a clipboard. They struggled to get on the same page.
The fact that every hospital in the country still hasn’t replaced pens and clipboards with touchscreen tablets is borderline criminal, but that’s a discussion for a different day.
The nurses then started asking my father a bunch of questions. Keep in mind he was in excruciating pain and had barely eaten or slept for two days.
Did they give you this medication? When did they give it to you? How many times per day are you supposed to use that machine? For how long? What should the setting be?
The fact that they had to ask my father these questions was a joke. With the right process and the right tools, this transfer could have taken one minute. Instead they were relying on the patient to remember critical information about patient care.
This had to be the result of one of four scenarios:
- There was no formal process in place.
- There was a process, but it was ineffective.
- There was an effective process, but one or both of the nurses didn’t know it.
- There was an effective process, but one or both of the nurses weren’t following it.
Regardless of which scenario was correct, the whole experience created unnecessary tension and anxiety for our family. Personally, it pissed me off.
If this information wasn’t recorded anywhere, how could we possibly feel confident that the next step of treatment would be correct?
When I write content for people, they expect any business leads generated from this content to be automatically converted into paid customers. If only it was that easy.
You can have the best marketing content or campaign in the world, but if you don’t have a formal process in place for converting leads into sales, it won’t matter one damn bit.
How are phone calls, emails and contact form inquiries being routed and monitored? What is the procedure for responding? How are you ensuring a quick response? How is communication with each lead being tracked? How is each relationship being nurtured? How are obstacles being overcome?
These are just a few variables that need to be solidified as part of a process for converting leads into sales.
Back in my radio days as a copywriter, a mortgage lender pushing refinance programs decided to cancel his advertising. Here’s the exchange I had with that advertiser.
Me: You’re cancelling?
Advertiser: Yes. We got like 20 phone calls, but none of them actually refinanced.
Me: 20 phone calls is a lot for two weeks. Who took those phone calls?
Advertiser: Whoever was in the office.
Me: Why didn’t any of them refinance?
Advertiser: I don’t know. I’d have to ask whoever talked to them.
Me: It sounds like you really don’t have any process in place for managing these calls.
Advertiser: (irritated) Well, we expected the commercial to work.
Me: Can you typically get a person to commit to a refi in 60 seconds?
Me: Well, neither can I. But I can get people to contact you. If you got 20 calls, the commercial worked. Once they call, it’s up to you to finish the job.
Your process for converting leads into sales can’t wait until the marketing program is underway. This process needs to be clearly defined long before the marketing starts.
There are well-known business applications and software designed specifically for this purpose. Find them and use them. Otherwise, develop and test your own in-house strategy.
Finally, make sure your staff understands the process and the tools that enhance the process. And make sure they know your process isn’t optional.
The lack of a formal, repeatable process, or the inability or unwillingness to adhere to that process, can render even the best marketing plan useless. Can you afford to throw away marketing dollars?