Welcome to our three-part series on home improvement lead generation, where we discuss marketing techniques that work for busy residential contractors. In the first part of the series with MarketSharp, we talked about why today’s home improvement professionals need to start focusing more on lead generation, rather than relying solely on word-of-mouth referrals. Today, we’ll walk you through strategies you can use to obtain quality leads, and how you can turn more of those leads into completed projects.
It’s not enough to purchase a bunch of leads or invest in a new website. You’ve also got to follow up—this is where the magic happens. Just by calling leads, you’ll already be doing better than the majority of your competition. According to research from Forbes, only 27% of online leads ever get a call back. That means your odds of winning business increase every time you pick up the phone—but there’s an art to it.
Lead management efforts are more likely to succeed if you allocate resources to handle calls and organize lead details. Also, your personal touch will set you apart from the competition. You’ll get further than you think by having empathy for your clients and their pains, as well as an innate understanding of the home improvement process.
Give Yourself the Resources You Need
When you vie for a homeowner’s dollars, you’re up against a ton of competitors—especially if you’re relying on a lead generation service. These services help you cut out some of the work, but the homeowners using lead generation services have their choice between tens of different bids, so the competition is fierce.
Research shows that leads overwhelmingly go to the first to respond, so you won’t have time to finish installing that window first. Homeowners can’t see that you’re busy; they want someone who appears to return their calls at once.
This is why it’s crucial to dedicate the separate resources to handle calls—people who can jump on the line with new leads right away. This can be an employee or even a whole team hired expressly for the purpose of lead management. These staff members take care of scheduling appointments and converting leads, while you go about the business of running your company.
You know what’s embarrassing? Dialing a homeowner after they’ve already said they’re not interested. Even worse? Letting a lead slide into oblivion without following up. Or calling a potential client three months after they made their initial request. Or any of the other errors call staff make daily.
Organization forms a pivotal part of your lead management effort. To respond to calls quickly and accurately, you need a well-articulated process that helps you avoid duplicate calls and dropped leads. Some services may provide a platform or user portal, but for many, you’ll be on your own.
You also need a way to distinguish leads that contact you directly from the contact us form on your website or through social media. For many contractors, the best bet is to invest in a quality customer relationship management (CRM) tool. Software like this not only helps you sort details like names, dates, and phone numbers, but also keep notes about your clients—the type of project they have in mind and their level of interest.
Timing your response is everything if you hope to win business from leads—especially when you’re competing with other contractors. One of the most famous studies found that leads are 100 times less likely to convert if the first phone call occurs 30 minutes after a potential customer makes contact. Those odds drop by 3,000% if you call five hours after the initial contact.
That said, homeowners won’t be happy about calls that come during dinner or in the middle of the workday. Research on the issue indicates that follow-ups come off more successfully when you call between eight to nine a.m. or in the four to five o’clock range.
So what’s the lesson here? Just use common sense. If you can’t call a lead back instantly, then it’s better to wait for an appropriate time in the day when your potential customer is less likely to be occupied by work or family duties. This is where a service like Modernize can be helpful. Our representatives will make that first contact for you, quickly, then reroute the call to you for you to follow up when you can.
Personalize the Experience
No one likes to feel like a walking wallet. When you call leads, approach each customer as an individual with their own needs. To soften the transition from “lead” to “human client,” you should come to the conversation prepared, rather than dialing blindly.
That means referencing the projects the customer is interested in and the size of their home. At Modernize, for instance, we gather information about the project type, budget, size and the customer’s residence before we jump on the line with a client. Our sales team attaches this information to the customer’s internal profile so that anyone who follows up has all their background information. The more you can come to customers prepared with a personalized frame of reference, the less time clients will have to spend explaining and re-explaining what they’re looking for. And that means happier clients overall.
Win Them with Your Online Presence
Customers do their research online these days, so there’s a high chance that your clients will visit your website as part of their decision-making process. And when they do, they’ll be expecting a high degree of professionalism and efficiency.
Research indicates that many consumers will wait no longer than four seconds for a website to load. Sites with confusing navigation or bad content (think typos) will also turn off prospective leads. Your content—text, photos, logos and contact details—should all be current. In other words, if your “showcase” photos feature shag carpeting, it’s time for a reshoot.
You can help yourself keep content fresh—and obtain higher search engine rankings as well—by taking some time to establish and update a blog. Blogging also gives you a chance to show off completed projects, keep customers in the know, and offer some of your expertise for free, which leads us directly to the key tenet of successful lead conversion: always be helping.
Always Be Helping
Modern customers are way too savvy to fall for high-pressure sales techniques. Attempts to squeeze clients usually result in negative reviews and an eventual drop in business.
One of the less frequently talked about sales skills is the ability to empathize with the person at the end of the phone. Leads aren’t really “leads,” after all; they’re parents, significant others, and team members—in other words, human. If potential clients seem unsure it’s because they’re putting their livelihoods in your hands. Most are feeling worried about how they’ll manage their budgets, or what would happen if something went wrong.
You will set yourself leagues above the competition if you can learn to identify with these fears and assuage them. Part of that comes from active listening. All too often, we see contractors who aren’t willing to truly hear their clients out. It also means being generous with your time. Be willing to offer advice, even when the client hasn’t signed anything. Your generosity will likely be rewarded with successful projects and repeat clients who are happy to sing your praises to anyone who’ll listen.
On our third part about lead generation in the modern day, we will discuss how to land the leads that are the most important to your contractor business. Learn how to find your ideal customer and land the home improvement leads that matter the most.