It’s Labor Day and Denise is on the phone. She says she’s buying a house and the house needs new windows. She’s had a guy out from one of the Big Three—you know who they are—and the guy gave her a lump sum price that amounted to a large fraction of what the house itself will cost. She was still reeling.
Denise says she has 24 windows, a sliding glass patio door, and six basement windows. She’s interested in fiberglass.
I ask what she has to spend on the windows and what her limit is. She tells me. I say, well, there are different kinds of windows, with different kinds of glass packages, and grids or no grid—it’s compIicated if you want me to break it out. I say, we can do a pocket installation that fits right into the existing opening, cap it outside, or we can rip everything out and redo the window, a full-frame installation, in which case you’d need new interior molding and outside brick molding. I explain that the full-frame installation is more costly.
Denise has done her Internet homework. She knows she wants the pocket installation. She also knows what kind of glass package she wants, and that the only kind of windows she wants are fiberglass.
I say fair enough, and after some rough calculation, give her a ballpark price of about $30,000.
Am I bothered that Denise calls on Labor Day? Not in the least. Nor am I all that surprised. Things have changed.
I say, Denise, I’ve been fairly transparent here, and now I need for you to be transparent and tell me how much the other company wanted for its windows.
Her answer: $44,000.
This morning, the first order of business is to put together her proposal and get it over to her. I will likely sell this job without ever having met the homeowner (though I will speak with her later at her home). It helps that she’s been jerked around by other contractors.
Interested and Intelligent
Denise found out about our company through our window manufacturer, which specializes in fiberglass windows. She went to their website, which links to our site. Right now, 100 percent of our company’s leads are inbound. That means every lead comes from referrals, repeat customers, manufacturers we do business with, review sites such as Angie’s List or Yelp, and our reputation. All of that feeds into our website via search engine optimization (SEO). And those SEO leads are 14-carat gold.
I know, I know. I’ve heard all about going out there and finding people who are not quite looking to buy yet but are somewhere in the buying cycle and bringing them into the market. It’s a concept known as outbound marketing. And I have no doubt that there’s money out there in canvassing, shows/events, and the rest of it.
They call it casting a wide net.
I have cast that net and I can tell you that that net brings in beer cans and angry crabs in addition to a few nice fish.
Today, I’ll fish where the fish are. Outbound marketing comes with a lot of headaches. Cancellations, credit rejects, difficult and demanding customers who feel they’re doing you a great favor ... . You’re dredging up all of that. There are a lot of dummies out there, but I don’t need to market to them.
When this company’s leads were 50 percent inbound and 50 percent outbound, our cancels and credit rejects were about 30 percent.
Today? It's zero.
At K&B Home Remodelers, we committed to the idea of pipeline selling. Pipeline selling only works if you’re an inbound company. You can only put a prospect in the pipeline if they’re coming to you with an interest in your company or your product. At that point, what you need to do is convince them that you’re the one to do the job, and you do that with customer service. Inbound marketing and pipeline selling take the stress out of buying home improvement by making it a fun, interesting, educational experience with a strong emphasis on customer service and quality.
Where to Start
If you want to shift your lead model to inbound, the first order of business is to take a hard look at your Internet presence. We are in a digital economy, and the epicenter of that is your website. It needs to be authoritative and relevant. Those are the criteria Google uses to rank you. Regularly add fresh, relevant content, both text and images.
The second thing is your social media presence. You need to bolster and make consistent your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, etc., activity. It needs to be frequent and regular.
Third, there are your reviews. Angie’s List, Google, and Yelp are the big ones. You have a lot of aggregate lead sources out there—Thumbtack, HomeAdvisor, QuinStreet—but they’re like Dumpster diving for leads, and they don’t do anything to help your SEO.
Fourth are authoritative websites that you can link to your own. Good suppliers will supply you not only with product, but with leads, and will enable you to link to their sites. If you’re a roofer and your site links to GAF’s, Google notices the correlation and your credibility and relevance go up, along with your organic search ranking. If you are friendly but not competitive with strong local companies in the home improvement field—landscapers, cabinet guys—have them link to your site while you link to theirs.
Some of this you’re not going to be able to do on your own. So be prepared to invest some marketing dollars in the experts who can do it for you.
Denise is not a rare bird. She’s our kind of customer. And these days there are a lot of them out there like her.