All the marketing, advertising, and lead generation in the world will do you no good if you can’t turn leads into customers. Here are 4 tips that will keep you from dropping the ball.
A friend recently sent me this email:
- They never respond to the lead form.
- They don’t answer the phone or call back after I leave a message.
- If they DO answer they say “hello?” and make me confirm that I’ve actually reached XYZ company.
- They don’t show up on time to estimates.
- Getting a quote back can take 2 weeks.
As a marketing company, we’ve heard this story before, and it’s terribly frustrating. We’re doing everything possible to drive leads to the business, but they struggle because they’re not converting the leads into paying customers.
In fact, sometimes when we have a service client who is getting a lot of leads from marketing but is aggravated because it’s not translating into business, we do a little “secret shopping” to see how responsive they are.
Often, we see the very problems described above. This is unacceptable if you want to grow your business.
Law firms and other professional services use the term “intake process” for how they deal with potential/new clients, moving them from initial contact to consultation to billable client.
Follow these four tips to create an intake process for your business so your lead generation translates into revenue.
#1. Be Responsive
Today when someone takes the time to reach out to you, they are a hot lead. They plan to hire soon. But they won’t stay hot if you don’t act.
If you need business, you don’t have the luxury of waiting days or weeks to get back to a lead who filled out a contact form. 24 hours is the max, and right away is the best.
The same goes for voicemail. Say you get back to a lead in a week and they still need the service. You’ve already sent a message that you’re slow to respond and don’t respect their time.
Being unresponsive to inquiries will either lose the lead or – if you still get the business – start things off on the wrong foot.
- Be active on your phone and email. Get back to leads quickly even if all you can do is acknowledge them and schedule a time to get into the details.
- On your email form, autoresponder, and voicemail note the amount of time you take to respond, such as “We’ll get back to you within 24 hours”. Honor that statement.
- Schedule time during the early evenings to respond to leads.
- Hire some help. If you’re too busy during the work day and don’t want to take time after hours, consider using a call service or hiring an office assistant.
#2. Work On Your Phone Skills
You may be a landscape designer, painter, or plumber by trade. But if you own your business, you also have another job: salesperson.
When it comes to dealing with leads, this means you need to work on your phone chops.
- Answer by saying your business name and asking how you can help. Just answering “hello” for a business is unprofessional.
- Get the lead’s name and use it in your conversation. Write it down so you don’t forget it. You sound friendly and considerate when you use a person’s name.
- Speak with an enthusiastic tone. Tone of voice matters more than you think. Many contractors sound like they don’t want the business because of their disinterested, flat tone. Put some energy into your voice.
- Use descriptive words when you speak. When describing how a job might be done, paint a picture in the lead’s mind with specific, descriptive language.
- Prepare and use qualifying questions. Have a few key questions ready that will help you qualify the lead. If they’re hot, make sure to secure next steps.
- Avoid negotiations. One sign of a poor lead is someone who starts trying to low-ball on price right from the start. If they are a fit, negotiate final details in person.
- Reaffirm everything. Repeat details and make sure you’re both on the same page.
- Let the lead hang-up first. Often a last second question will pop-up. Give the lead the chance to ask before the call ends.
#3. Respect People’s Time
We’ve all been there. Waiting at the doctor’s office. Waiting for TV service installation. Waiting for the contractor to come over for an estimate.
Don’t make people wait. It’s not just a solid business practice, it’s basic consideration.
#4. Ask for the Business
We’ve all seen awkward romance scenes in movies where we know the girl likes the guy, but the guy just can’t summon the courage to ask her out. We’re in the audience thinking “Just ask her dude, she’s into you!”
Something similar happens on a lot of sales calls. Everything seems to be in place, but the client has a slight hesitation. You can overcome that by being direct. Ask them for the business with a statement like: “So this sounds good, does next Wednesday work for you?” This statement makes it implicit that you’re ready to move forward.
A kid selling candy bars for a school fundraiser recently knocked on my door. His pitch was:
Hi, I’m selling $1 candy bars to support our High School jazz band trip. How many would you like?
I cleaned him out.
Here’s JB with more tips:
There is another important point to cover here.
Let’s acknowledge that there are few businesses – who need the work – who intentionally blow off leads. Yes, some are sloppy, but those guys don’t stay in business for long.
What happens more often is businesses get busy and start fumbling new leads. My friend looking for yard work is doing so in spring – when opportunities swell.
During these times lead generation can seem easy. You might not feel the need to do much marketing. It’s easy to become complacent.
Then the slow times come around and you’d kill for more leads. In fact, times can get so lean that you can’t afford to market. Now you’re waiting it out hoping you’re in position for the next busy season.
If this sounds familiar, here’s a suggestion. Try to keep your marketing, lead-generation, and intake process consistent. In busy times, keep working new leads to build up your pipeline. That way when things start to slow and the guys who didn’t answer calls are not working, you’ll still have more jobs lined up.
Likewise, create a strategy to capture and nurture leads during slow times of the year so you’re filling your docket when the hiring starts. This way you won’t be fighting it out with all the low-ballers and aggressive newcomers doing backflips to make a name for themselves.
Never take a valuable lead for granted. If you do, sooner or later, you’ll regret it.