Running & Closing Leads

Running Leads

 

A homeowner has called your office or responded on your web site requesting a free estimate and lawn evaluation.  Your office staff prints the estimate form and you either give this lead along with others to your techs or sales staff or put it in a pile that you are going to run yourself.

 

First & Foremost - Don't put off running leads. Same day is the best; next day is ok; 3 days later is not nearly as good unless you have contacted them to let them know that. If you don’t get to some leads for 4 or 5 days or more, you'll be lucky to close any of them so you’ve just wasted the money you spent on marketing to generate them.

 

Second - Make sure everyone running lawn leads understands the questions they might encounter while running leads and are capable of answering them.  These might not be your sales people but they should be trained with some basic sales skills.

 

 

 

Here are few tips for running leads:

 

  • Build trust— not relationships.  When trust is established between you and your customers, you'll naturally develop a good, long-lasting business relationship.

 

  • Be professional, not pushy.  Selling additional services is part of the industry, but don't treat your customers like an ATM machine.  Only make recommendations that are right and necessary for the situation.

 

  • Present a professional image when you leave an estimate.  This should include a neatly printed estimated form, a professional looking business card, and a brochure or presentation folder that includes information about your company and the services you offer.  This should all be placed inside a plastic door-hanging bag that will keep your valuable information neat, legible, and safe from the elements.

 

  • Follow up immediately on all leads that come in.  Don't wait to run a lead until the weather improves or you have additional staff.  If you can't get out immediately, call them and tell them why you can't be there. Every day a lead sits idle, it gets colder and colder and less likely to close.  We did a test not long ago that indicated that after the first two days upon receiving a lead, closing rates dropped by 4 to 5% per day for every day delayed in running the lead.  This is even more pronounced in running telemarketing leads.  One week after receiving that lead, if it hasn't been contacted, you just threw the money it cost to generate it away.

 

  • Accurate measurements are IMPORTANT when preparing an estimate.  Most of your new sales will be homeowners who have previously hired a lawn service company.  They already have a good idea of what their lawn size is and what the going rates for treating it are.  Your competition may not have taken the time to get that measurement right and this one fact can differentiate you from your competitors.  A lawn size of 4,930 sq. ft. indicates to the prospect that you measured and looked at his lawn.  A lawn size of 5,000 sq. ft. does not.  Accurate measurements also mean more precise estimates of product usage.  Avoid using online plot maps that only measure length x width of the property.  Many properties have extensive landscaping / hardscaping that are not recorded on these plot plans.  By only measuring actual lawn area, you'll have better information on which to base your estimate and product usage, and you'll actually be more competitive in your pricing.

 

  • Always include your business card with each estimate

 

  • Include comments specifically about the back yard.  This helps insure the prospect knows you actually spent time looking at their lawn.

 

  • Keep the measurement and other detailed property information in your marketing database.  Homeowners change, but property lines usually don't.  Even if you don’t close the lead right now, there’s a great chance that you can turn it into a sale at a later date.

 

  • Call your prospects NOW!  Don't wait OR expect them to call you after you've left an estimate.

 

  • Keep track of every lead.  You should know where it came from, how much it cost and what your historical closing rate is on leads from that source.

 

  • For new hires and as a refresher for old hands, conduct leads training exercises where techs role-play against "typical prospects".

 

OK - One of your technicians has been out to the property (ideally within a day or two after receiving the lead) and given it a good look, measured the property accurately, made a few comments on the estimate form, especially about the back yard, and handed in the paper work.  What's next?

 

 

Turning Leads into Sales

 

Hopefully, you have captured how that potential customer would like to be contacted.  Does he or she want you to call them, email them, or send them a text?  This should be part of your on line form and one of the questions your office staff asks when receiving the call.  If you have that information, make sure that you use it.

 

If at all possible, you should try and contact this potential customer the same day you run the lead.  Don't wait.  The longer you wait between leaving the estimate and contacting the prospect, the less chance you have of turning the lead into a sale.  If you call and get an answering machine, leave a message that you called, and that you will call back.  Don't leave a message asking them to call you.  When you don’t reach them call again the next day during business hours.  If still no contact, call again that evening.  If you sent them an email or text, wait a day or two and follow up with another email or text to see if they have any questions or would like to talk to you either on the phone or in person.

 

If you have a phone room in which to make these calls set up for your employees, have a supervisor in the room at all times.  It's very easy for people to get distracted when they have to do something that may not be comfortable for them.  You want someone with experience in closing leads over the phone overseeing these call-back session.

 

You can even invest in the phone equipment that allows the supervisor to listen in to the sales calls to make sure things are being handled in the right way.

 

Make sure that each person contacting potential customers understands your business.  Make sure they understand what makes you different from your competition.  Give each sales person a cheat sheet of your benefits and how they compare with your competition.  Know what your competition is offering: price, products, services and how they differ from the services you offer.  Train your sales staff to sell the value of your service, not the price.

 

To get an understanding of what your competition is doing, ask family members, friends and employees to request estimates from your competitors.  Look at what they give to their prospects.  Make notes about what they say in their call backs or emails in their effort to close sales.   Make sure your staff understands and can verbalize or write how and why your service is of better value. What features make you unique?  What products do you use that are superior to your competition?  What services are better?

 

Also ask family members and friends to request an estimate from your company to see if leads are being handled the way you have trained your staff to handle them.

 

Every day, about an hour before each call-back session, meet with your sales staff.  Discuss where you are in the campaign to date and the goals of the upcoming session.  Then role play.  Have each sales person practice in front of the others.  Offer constructive criticism and how to handle difficult situations.  If you're a sole operator, role play with your spouse / best friend / significant other.  Practice makes everyone better at whatever they are trying to accomplish and in this case that is higher closing rates and more sales.  Track closing rates by employee.  Leads are just too damned expensive to waste on a sales person that's not closing 40-50% of non-telemarketing leads consistently. Find out why they're not closing and fix the problem! Retrain!

 

Remember, this golden opportunity comes around once a year.  Make the most of it and your marketing investment just might pay off.