Ask the Experts

How to convert prospects into customers

February 12, 2013 

Huntersville author and entrepreneur Chia-Li Chien's book is called "Work toward Reward."

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This is an edited excerpt from the book “Work toward Reward” by Huntersville entrepreneur Chia-Li Chien.

In my first business, I was a federal minority subcontractor providing software development servicing to the energy industry. Even with only one client and one type of revenue source, I didn’t put forth any sales and marketing efforts.

When I started my management consulting business in 2004, I had to learn how to market to small and midsized companies.

Today, as I try to expand my business, my needs for marketing and sales have evolved again. I need more sophisticated processes. For advice on how to do that, I turned to Clate Mask, co-founder and CEO of Chandler, Ariz.-based Infusionsoft. Mask is a small-business growth expert who has worked with thousands of entrepreneurs and co-authored The New York Times bestseller, “Conquer the Chaos: How to Grow a Successful Small Business Without Going Crazy.”

Mask discussed mistakes that prevent small businesses from expanding.

Lack of consistent new leads follow-up. “Studies show that 80 percent of people buy between sales contact No. 5 and No. 12. Yet most people stop following up after attempt No. 3,” Mask says. Discontinuing follow-ups after three attempts can cost your company money.

No time for nurturing relationships. Take time to close deals. People buy from people they know; use your time effectively to build relationships.

Not getting paid on a timely basis. Many business owners ignore their accounts receivable until there is a cash-flow problem. Automatic billing is a great way to keep track of payments. Get on the phone if a client or customer hasn’t paid. Don’t be their bank.

Here are two things Mask recommends:

Consistently spend the right amount of money and time in marketing. Many entrepreneurs have an on-off relationship with marketing. Have a consistent method for generating leads. Dedicate a set amount of time to marketing, and market consistently.

Stop trying to do everything yourself. Many entrepreneurs don’t trust other people to do things the right way. Surround yourself with people who can do what you’re not good at doing or don’t want to do.

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