There are contractors who sometimes get more inquiries than they can deal with, then ignore the overflow, and add negative images to the industry. Then there are large specialty contractors who have inadequate or no follow-up on leads, which didn’t turn into presentations or sales. They believe a very old concept of “sell it or forget it.” Both sides of this issue miss the point. Someone contacted them responding to an advertisement, display, or solicitation and the respondent indicated they are a prospect.
In some future date, contractors large and small will complain about the lack of leads, sales, or profitability failing to understand that they are the major contributor to the problem
Leads (inquiries) are the life-blood of the home improvement business. They are the response to your advertising, promotion, and customer satisfaction image. The contractor who ignores leads will build a low-level satisfaction image. The larger contractor who operates with a sophisticated closing technique and fails to consider that business is generated beyond this model has failed to measure the accurate costs of his leads.
The prospect’s values, concerns, and needs are the core of the expressed interests. Actually, their property is the prospect with the need for the services provided by the contractor. When the smaller contractor ignores an inquiry it is callous. When the larger contractor submits the prospect to a “rock ‘em, sock ‘em, sell them, or forget them” sales methodology, they show little understanding of what will build their business.
At the core of all sound marketing plans is an examination of how the prospect thinks and feels. Not responding to
someone’s inquiry sometimes after repeated phone calls can leave the potential customer frustrated and critical of the industry. The contractor who does not “follow-up” on an unsold lead also misses the point. In surveys of prospects that didn’t buy after showing interest, it is not uncommon to hear the phrase “the contractor/or salesperson never called back.” The majority of small businesses cannot adopt this laissez-faire attitude for prospects. The prospect’s interest is truly the life-blood of your business and any actions that threaten this will lead to a contamination of the business.
When contractors large and small recognize the true value of their lead will be examined by the level of the interest and care exhibited, then these contractors and the industry as a whole will take a step towards maturity.
New and inexpensive lead sources. Advertising costs are soaring, and the quantity and quality of inquiries may have declined. However, your best prospects are still out there if you can get to them before your competition.
In recent seminars, dozens of new, low-cost lead generating ideas were unveiled. Exhibits at fairs, malls, and public attractions ranked highly. Methods involving large and small retail outlets for displays are also productive.
You will have to change your “mind set” on how to deal with leads from new sources. Email addresses and fax numbers are a key. They will aid you in replacing advertising methods, which are costly. Email and fax reminders to past prospects and solicitation for referrals from completed jobs and are being used by marketers. You should acquire email
addresses and fax numbers on every incoming call, every contract, and all field contacts.
Can direct mail still be a valuable source for leads? Direct mail, if used wisely, is an ideal source for building leads. A well designed piece sent to targeted markets, such as property owners in the vicinity of completed jobs, past prospects, and previous customers, or a lead list as an aftermath of a tradeshow can be effective even if they return a small percent of the mailing. Direct mail campaigns tied to jobs in progress, special events, programs in a showroom, seasonal or energy conservation issues usually have an improved return.
Today, compiling your own mailing list is simpler than ever. Increasing your base by using special lists is not complicated and with the ease of acquiring graphics, as well as, inexpensive color printing, mailing is still a viable source. Be sure your company is keeping pace with the methods for producing high quality leads then using them effectively. PR
David Alan Yoho,Jr. is a Senior Account Executive with Dave Yoho Associates. He is featured on the new web-based video training series entitled Super Sales Training. He can be contacted via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by calling 703-591-2490.