Tired of Losing Leads? Your Timing May Be Off

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Have you ever thought that the timeline you use to react to leads may have an impact on your conversion rate? Also called a closing ratio, the conversion rate is the number of leads out of 100 that convert into a signed contract after your intervention. Your response strategy to a lead should have three phases. Learn what they are through some examples and tips and watch your leads convert.              

Phase 1: The initial response

Last month, I needed a new lawnmower. So I start to call different stores to gather information and find out where to go. I start by calling a local company called Joe-Lawn. Here is that exchange:

“Joe-Lawn here, what do you need?”

“Umm, a gas-powered lawn mower would be great. I’d like to have some information on….”

“Come and see us for that, I’m busy with a customer right now!”

“Oh. Ok. Thank you, good bye.”

As you can imagine from that exchange, I don’t feel like going to Joe-Lawn. So I move on and call the second one, Champion Mowers, but I end up getting an outgoing voicemail message that was very professional. I leave a short message and ask for a call back. I start looking for the number of the third one and while I’m dialing, my phone rings! It’s Champion Mowers calling back:

“Good afternoon, Mr. Bailly! I got your message and I’m sorry I couldn’t take your call. I understand you want some information on gas-powered lawn mowers. I’d like to know more about the size and condition of your yard so I can point you toward the right product for your specific needs.”

According to Velocify*, a leading provider of cloud-based intelligent sales software, a callback within one minute improves your chance of closing that lead by 391%!** It would be difficult to find another marketing tool that could ever have this level of influence over your conversion rate. The longer you wait, the less likely it is that you will secure the customer. You want to sell more? Return calls immediately or have someone else do it and make sure the first contact is you talking about THEM and THEIR needs – not about you and your product.

Phase 2: Attempt to reach

You know how you feel when you leave five messages and the customer doesn’t call you back. You don’t want to lose that lead because you need the sale, but you feel disrespected. Plus, you will start to have bad feelings toward them that you’ll try to hide as best as you can when they finally call you back.

Velocify’s study found that less than 50% of converted leads are reached in one attempt.** Should you try again? Absolutely! Most converted leads take multiple attempts. Below is a personal strategy I developed and works for me. In most cases, if you had the lead, you have a phone number and an email address as well. Here’s the game plan:

Day Time after lead is received Item
1 <60 seconds Immediate first call after the lead is received.
1 20-40 minutes Second phone call attempt. Just after this call, I will send the first email.
1 Before the end of day 1 Third phone call attempt.
3 Send second email.
4 Fourth phone call attempt.
6-7 Send third email.
10 Fifth phone call attempt.

There is absolutely no good reason to shoot from the hip when figuring out when to call people. In the first attempt, I’ll introduce myself and tell them I’m calling in regard to their inquiry. In the second phone call, I’ll leave a message asking for the best time to talk with them. My first email will be very similar to the second message; I’ll ask if they prefer phone or email communication at this point. Before the end of day one, I’ll call back to let them know I am finishing my day and tell them when I’m available and what times. When I send the second email on day three, I will let them know I’ve tried to reach them but was unsuccessful and will try to call them again tomorrow, which I do. In the third email, I will summarize what I know from the situation and point out some services that we offer that might interest them and mention that we could talk next week if it is a better time. Finally, in the following week, I will call one last time and if still unsuccessful, will leave on the voicemail that I understand they were interested in some of our services but maybe this is just not the right timing and they can call or email me back anytime when the timing is better.

Phase 3: Maintaining the Contact

After you have scheduled an appointment with the lead, it is imperative that you only contact a lead when you have NEW INFORMATION to share. Don’t call them to let them know the weather or to chit chat. It is a great idea to call them 30 to 60 minutes before the sales visit to ensure both parties will be there and that it is a good time for them to decide what would likely be their biggest investment of the year. Their state of mind at the moment of the visit is an important yet ignored factor that can affect their decision. Don’t be afraid of rescheduling if the conditions are not good enough to conduct business. You probably have some third calls and second emails to send to other prospects anyway, don’t you? If you don’t close the job on the spot, you have one mission, should you choose to accept it: Do NOT leave the house without having set the next meeting or at least a day when it’s good to call them back to know their decision. Resist the temptation to give the profit away to get the job. It’s rarely worth it. A company that closes a lot of sales based on low price might not be able to give you a better compensation next year. A company that makes a lot in profit certainly can!

After you get the job, you should contact them before the work actually starts to let them know the crew leader’s name and to make sure everything is a go. Confirm that nothing has changed. Then pass it on to the crew leader to contact them the day before arrival to confirm timing. He/she will maintain the contact until the work is completed and then hand the baton back to you. Once the work is completed, you should call them and, if possible, visit to make sure everything is to their satisfaction. Ask them if this is a good day to process the final payment. Asking is a courtesy that a customer will appreciate.

Once you have taken the final payment, you want to maintain contact with the customer until… when? When does the sale end? Some people suggest that it’s when the job is done or when payment is received. While that is true for the most part, it’s not the most effective way to build customer loyalty. CARE (GAF’s Center for the Advancement of Roofing Excellence) always recommends maintaining that relationship well beyond the end of the work scope. There is one clear reason: referrals! Cold leads result in a low closing rate. The close rate for a referred lead is typically much higher. Work less for the lead with the same result. Keep the phone lines open.

Within a month after the project is completed, mail them a thank-you card for doing business with you and enroll them in your referral program. Let them know about upcoming incentives for customers who pass along referrals. Finally, at the end of the year, some contractors have found success with throwing a Customer Appreciation Party. Provide food and music, and make it a fun and exciting day. It truly never ends…

In old English, sales was “sala” from the root “sal,” meaning “to grasp, take”. Don’t wait for the next sale to come to you. Have a plan of action to grasp those leads and turn them into jobs.

* Velocify and GAF are not related in any way and neither company sponsors or endorses the other.

**Velocify, The Ultimate Contact Strategy, How to Use Phone and Email for Contact and Conversion Success, Sales Optimization Study http://pages.velocify.com/UltimateContactStrategy.html



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