Inquiries Become Sales In The Long Run
By Mac H. McIntosh

So, how often do inquires from potential
customers actually translate into a final
sale somewhere down the road?

Research compiled from dozens of studies on the subject (of sales, leads and inquiry
handling) all point to the same conclusion: although nearly twenty five percent of
inquiries convert to a sale within half a year or less, the majority of sales are
longer-term, occurring in six months' time or more.

Let's consider one such study undertaken by Reed Business Information. This study
concentrated on inquiry handling and measured the responses over time. Reed
Business Information examined forty thousand inquiries from advertisements and
magazine press releases for this study, all of which centered around manufacturing
businesses. After six months, the study was able to report the following information:

* It was discovered that over sixty-five percent of the people responded saying they
still have plans to buy

* Over twenty percent of the inquirers purchased the item that was advertised, either
from the advertiser, or a competitor offering a similar product.

When looking back at some of the inquiries that were older, it was discovered that:

* Over ten percent of the inquirers purchased within 90 days of first inquiry.

* About seventeen percent of these inquirers made a purchase within four to six
months after the inquiry.

* Twenty-five percent of responders bought within seven to twelve months after the

* Almost half took over a year to make the purchase of the advertised item.

However, although the amount of inquirers that become sales over time are high, the
majority of sales people think that ad inquiries aren't worth following up on. Why is
this so? This is most likely because these inquiries are long-term prospects, who won't
help the sales department make the more immediate sales, which are more valued for
meeting seasonal quotes and commissions value.

As a result, your company's inquiry handling process may pass all inquiries on to
your sales staff, representatives and distributors, but sales may be sifting through
them and neglecting to cultivate the long-term prospects. The result could be a huge
loss for your company, as a large majority of all potential sales may just be left there in

You're probably asking what you can do to convert more of these inquiries into sales.
Just follow the four steps below in order to maintain a better inquiry-handling process
and create sales-winning relationships for the medium and long term:

1) Send requested information immediately to demonstrate your responsiveness to
an inquirer.

2) Follow-up with inquires on the telephone to find out more about their needs,
budget, timing and authority to purchase.

3) Keep in touch with long-term prospects with email, fax, mail and phone, keeping
your products in mind while supplementing new information.

4) When your long-term prospects are qualified and likely to make a purchase soon,
get the sales staff involved.

Your marketplace is like an orchard. Your marketing people are the planters, weeders,
and waterers of the trees. When the fruit is ripe, they call in the pickers - your sales
people, reps, and dealers. If enough seeds have been planted and trees tended, the
orchard can be well-tended with follow-up, reaping a bountiful harvest. If not,
pickings could be slim.

About the author: Mac McIntosh is president of Mac McIntosh Inc., a sales and marketing
consulting firm that helps companies get more high-quality sales leads and turn them into sales.

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