roasting marshmallows over fire

Ideas for Keeping Leads Warm – Managing Your Lead Bank

 

Every successful sales and marketing organization understands that lead management is just as important as getting a lead in the first place. How you manage leads that come in will ultimately determine how many you close. And, even after close, how many jobs you complete.

 

There are two big reasons to take a hard look at your lead management process: 1) Getting to close; and 2) Avoiding job cancellations. Both can have a big impact on your bottom line.

 

Keeping Leads Warm Until Close

 

Ideally, right after you get a lead, you schedule a meeting, present a solution and make the sale. But things are rarely that straightforward in real life. For businesses with a large volume of leads and/or a small sales force, just finding a time for that first meeting can be a challenge. For others, even after the presentation, consumers might demand “time to think it over” or “get another bid.”

 

Both of these scenarios mean a delay between getting the lead and closing the sale. And any delay adds to the likelihood that the lead will go cold or go to a competitor.

 

How do you keep that from happening? It starts with a plan. Every company should have several communication touchpoints ready to roll-out between key parts of the sales process. In a simple process, that might mean between the lead and the appointment, and between the appointment and the sale.

 

It’s fine if you don’t have to use them. If the appointment is tomorrow and your customer signs on the spot, great! But having some ready-made emails, mailers and phone scripts can be the difference between booking business and losing it.

 

Here are some ideas for keeping leads warm between the lead and the sale:

 

Keep them informed. The more time that potential customers have to go without hearing from you is more time for them to imagine that you might have forgotten about them. Commit to following up on calls and appointment setting. Always remember to “close the communication loop” and make sure homeowners know what to expect next and that you’re “on the case.”

 

Send ahead a profile of your salesperson. Help build your representative’s credibility and establish the relationship with the customer before they even meet.  Point out a few positive personal and professional highlights. Include a smiling photo if possible.

 

Share testimonials. Few things put homeowners’ minds at ease as much as stories about how you helped other people in similar situations. The fact that others chose you can imply your pricing, service and results were the best choice.

 

Share local case studies. Like testimonials, a short description of services you’ve provided to other homeowners can be a powerful tool in paving the way to the sale. The more local to the homeowner you can make these stories, the better. Think in terms of headlines like, “Your neighbors choose us, too! We’ve replaced more than 20 roofs in your neighborhood over the last 24 months.”

 

Tell them why you’re “worth the wait.” You may or may not choose to be that direct, but you can share your organization’s difference-makers. Things like industry awards, exclusive products, results or success data, customer reviews and more can help potential customers decide that it’s best to make sure they go with you.

 

Employing any or all of these communication tactics can help more homeowners make it through delays (yours or theirs) and arrive at the close.  It’s important to note that it can also help to employ variations on these ideas between the close and project completion if your crews are having trouble keeping up with your sales.

 

Top Tools for Keeping Leads Warm

 

So how should you actually deploy the communication tactics above? Typically, any one-on-one communication channel can work. Here are the most common:

 

Lead follow-up phone calls

 

Phone calls are the most personal method of keeping a potential customer updated. They are immediate, simple and you probably already have everything you need to put them in your plan. The most important thing to remember with phone calls is to have a standard script that presents the message you want to convey in the simplest terms possible.

 

Even great salespeople can benefit from an outline that helps them remember to hit critical points. And, with more people than ever “screening” their calls, a script can help you leave a concise, professional-sounding message.

 

Lead follow-up emails

 

Email is an easy, low-cost way to stay in touch with potential customers. It’s important to collect an email address as part of your lead capture system whenever possible. Having standard email templates available for different communication purposes is similar to having scripts for telephone calls. They can save time and make sure your message hits all the important points.

 

Many organizations choose to automate some or all of their customer emails through a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. New leads can be put into a “workflow” that delivers specific messages over a set period of time or in response to specific homeowner behavior. CRM systems like the one available from RCG also let you incorporate and track call activity and can deliver automatic reminders and prompts for your salespeople.

 

Lead follow-up mailers

 

Direct mail can be an excellent way to stay in touch with leads throughout the sales process. Mailings can be as simple as a one-page letter or pre-printed postcard to as complex as a folder with multiple inserts and brochures. Direct mail can typically put more information in front of a customer than either phone calls or email. And well-done direct mail can make a brand seem more credible and “established.”

 

For all its benefits, direct mail can also require more investment than other options. Printing, assembly, personalization/addressing and postage are all cost components of a direct mailer. Depending on the size of your operation and the resources you have available, you may choose to do some elements “in-house” by hand like letters and pre-printed cards; and outsource more complex items like folder packages, variable data mailers and multifold brochures. The advancement of digital printing has made low-quantity lead follow-up mailers an affordable option for many businesses.

 

Long-term Lead Follow-up

 

We’ve discussed a variety of methods for getting customers through short-term delays in closing and project completion. You may be wondering what should you do with customers who “go dark” for longer periods. The fact is that many of the same strategies and tactics should be employed for these cold leads.

 

A “tickler” program should follow up with any and all of your cold leads at regular intervals. While it’s important to not pester homeowners, it’s also advisable to keep your organization top of mind through a long sales process.  A CRM system like the one discussed above can help automate long-term contact plans and make it easier to harvest more of these customers without letting them drop off the radar.

 

Benefits of Lead Warming

 

No matter what your communication methods or messages, there is little question that staying in touch with homeowners who have expressed interest in your services helps close more sales and book more completed projects.

 

RCG Contractor can help you put the pieces in place to manage an ongoing lead-warming program that’s consistent, simple and effective.

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