You all know how much I believe in putting less of your focus on generating leads and new customers, and putting more of your efforts towards building and nurturing strong relationships with your existing clients.

However, when I work with clients on lead/new customer acquisition strategies, I am often dismayed to find that even there, in the area where they are focusing a lot of time and attention, there are still too many holes in the bucket. Time after time, I see high-quality leads and new customers falling through the cracks.

I can think of at least four recent examples to illustrate this point.

I remember one recent client event where they had secret shopped their company by recording phone calls to their receptionists. When someone answered, they asked very general questions about the company’s products and services.

For example, the caller would say, “I’m just curious, but does your business do X?” For 90% of the calls, the response was incorrectly given. “No, we don’t do that,” and “No, we don’t offer that.” When in fact, 9/10 times the response was blatantly wrong. This illustrative example offered attendees a fun, lighthearted moment during the event, but when I got up to speak, I told the CEO and President that I would have been shaking in my boots hearing those calls. After all, these were the recordings from a two-week period! What happened over the past six months or the last six years? This was a billion dollar+ organization!

There was another experience recently, where new leads were coming into a business, but they weren’t being captured. Meaning, there was no data capture at all–short of the cash register physically being rung. This left the company with no opportunity to retain, develop, or build a relationship with that customer. Remember, everyone loves up selling, down selling, cross selling and everything else in between, but they weren’t focused on reselling–meaning, physically getting the customer back in the doors to buy again. I’ve often quibbled about the hospitality industry. If a restaurant doesn’t at least attempt to capture my information after I’ve finished my meal, then they’ve left money on the table.

(Remember the classic tidbit about the kitchen that taught me everything I know about customer loyalty.)

At another business, I enquired about a product and the in-store experience was otherwise fantastic, but I left feeling the company missed an opportunity to at least make an attempt to capture my information–or to entice me to learn more or to hear more about the product I was inquiring about. I gave the store employee an excuse that I’d be back with my wife, but I never returned.

I ended up purchasing from their online store later, but this company will have no idea that most of my purchase decision was made because of the visit to this store first. If they’d captured my contact information, not only could they continue to market to me and entice me back, they would also know that their retail efforts had this marketing impact–especially important to measure today, when we’re constantly being told that retail is dying and that retail stores are fast becoming only expenses, rarely profit centres.

In another example, a CEO client assured me that a new client onboarding process was happening every single time the company brought on a new client when in reality it was happening only a small fraction of the time. You’ve heard me rail over and over again on quote follow-up and sales people dropping the ball on hot opportunities. But these are just simple holes in the bucket–the areas where water is seeping out of our bucket and with relatively simple changes we can fix.

For example, we can train receptionists and test them regularly on how they respond to your most frequent requests. We can make it a policy that every customer gets a card and we request his/her information. We can change our in-store experience and language to ask customers who express interest in a product if we can contact them with additional information, product updates, or potential promotions. Finally, we can create checklists, and processes that are expected to be followed and completed every time. None of this is rocket science, but it’s critical if you want to have a shot at getting to know the customer.

Your Weekly Challenge: How confident are you that leads and opportunities aren’t falling through the cracks?

For example, if you called your organization’s service/sales line, how confident are you they would pass the simple, “Do you ….(sell this, do that),” test? Would they only pass 20% of the time or 90% of the time?

If you need some help conducting these tests for your people, reach out, and we’ll suggest a few ideas that make sense for your line of business.