Most likely, you already know that it’s harder than ever to get a home improvement lead. You probably also already know that it’s more expensive than ever to drive a home improvement lead. This means that properly handling leads when they come in the door is also more important than ever before. Yet handling and managing leads is often the point where profits slip away. So, here’s a quick guide to maximizing your profits through more effective lead management.
Answer the Phone — Quickly
The first step to proper lead management should seem obvious, and that’s picking up the phone. It sounds simple enough, but time after time, remodelers simply drop the ball at this step. After studying countless remodeler phone call recordings, I’ve found that the number of unanswered phone calls is astoundingly high. Profits shrink with every ring, as homeowners get impatient, move on and call your competitors.
Don’t just answer the phone — do it quickly because homeowners start judging you from the very first ring. If they have to wait 90 seconds for you to answer, they form the impression that you’ll always keep them waiting, that you’re not responsive and that you’re difficult to work with. But if you answer in the first 10 seconds, the homeowner forms the impression that you’re fast, you’re responsive and you’re going to listen to and take care of them.
I’m a friendly person, and you probably are, too, and that goes a long way when talking to a homeowner. But I’ve listened to thousands of remodeler phone calls, and this, again, is not always true. Many times, I hear a remodeler answer calls with a curt “Hello?” or “Can I call you back?”
You don’t want your calls answered this way. So, don’t do it to valuable prospects. Instead, use a friendly, cheerful voice to greet inbound phone calls. A great initial greeting continues to form the right impression with the homeowner, and gets them thinking, “Hey, this is a remodeler that could be good to work with.”
Reply to Those Internet Leads
You can’t be a growing remodeler these days and not embrace Internet leads. Internet leads require a different approach than inbound phone calls. Responding to Internet leads immediately is the key to success. Every second you spend not replying to an Internet lead is one second closer to an appointment being booked with a competitor.
While you receive Internet leads differently than inbound phone calls, you can still create positive first impressions with homeowners. Fast callbacks result in homeowners saying, “Wow, this company is super-responsive.”
The opposite is also true. If you take hours or even days to call back, you’ll have a much more difficult time getting that homeowner to pick up the phone. Secondly, the homeowner forms a very different impression of you, thinking, “They’re not very responsive. I must not be important to this remodeler.”
Nail Down Qualification Criteria
Picking up the phone quickly and answering in a friendly manner are simple techniques, but you can’t stop there. Add effective and consistent lead qualification, and now you’re talking. Qualification criteria invariably create a tug-of-war within home improvement companies, because your marketing team wants to maximize lead volume and will naturally want qualification criteria as loose as possible, while your salespeople want just the opposite. They’re looking for the strongest, most qualified leads they can get. In short, they “don’t want to waste their time” pitching unqualified prospects.
The key to qualifying prospects is consistency. Create a defined set of criteria, then write it down and blend it into your scripting. This ensures that everyone in your company has a clear understanding of what constitutes a qualified prospect.
Even the strongest appointments can experience complications, such as homeowners rescheduling. Sometimes they reschedule three or four times. Or, they can fail to show up for an appointment, but still want to see your salesperson. With thousands of inquiries per year, this can become frustrating and difficult to track.
This is why strong lead management and scheduling systems are so important. Keeping appointments on a white board or in a free online calendar system can work for smaller organizations, but as you grow these systems fall short in a critical way — they don’t maximize the number of sales appointments you’ll make.
For one thing, loose appointment keeping leads to lost sales opportunities. In addition, rescheduled meetings become difficult to manage, and callbacks and confirmation calls slip through the cracks. No-shows increase. Confusion mounts.
Remodelers must embrace a professional lead management and scheduling system, such as the solution that MarketSharp provides for remodelers. Many other such systems are available, and they all offer a number of key advantages.
First, they provide a central system that everyone in the organization can understand. These systems simplify the process of handling reschedules, making confirmation calls and sending reminder emails to homeowners.
Take the confusion out of the process, and automate your operation with one of these systems. The immediate improvements will be subtle, but when you review your numbers, you’ll find your company is sitting more appointments and closing more business.
Make Lead Handling a Priority
Too many home improvement companies get so caught up in selling deals and installing product that they miss the big picture of how they handle their lead flow. And that’s an oversight that costs them in growth and profits. Lead handling must be your priority — not just for you, but for everyone in your company. When that phone rings or that email arrives, you can ring up big dollars through great lead handling.
Todd Bairstow is a founder and partner at Keyword Connects. He is a writer and speaker in the area of online marketing for home improvement and writes a popular lead generation blog. Keyword Connects runs hundreds of risk-free, online lead generation campaigns for home improvement companies that produce exclusive, branded sales leads.