The Burden of Proof
25 years ago, the word of a business owner was enough for a prospective customer to trust them. In fact, just offering a service that someone needed was generally enough for that person to engage in business with a service-based company - but that’s no longer the case.
Nowadays, pest control and lawn care companies are burdened with convincing new customers of the benefits of using them over the competitors, and it doesn’t stop there. They also now need to get in touch with prospective new customers when they are available - and that’s not an easy feat to accomplish.
Timing is everything
Put yourself in the position of your target customers when thinking about how to get in touch with them. Tuesday at 2pm is probably not the best time for them, but it likely is for you. If you want to increase your close rate for people who have reached out after hours or while you were closed, you’re likely going to need to reach back out to them in the same timeframe.
Changing your schedule to accommodate your target market is always an option - but not a necessary one. There are a lot of great tools you can use to reach people who don’t follow the traditional sales path, and they’re easy to use and implement.
Draw a Roadmap to Success
Step 1 - MVPs
Before you decide to spend any more time following up with leads who haven’t been responsive, you want to make sure that they are indeed worth your time. To do this, you will need to define who your most valuable prospects are. There are some general characteristics that can help you root them out:
They are looking for recurring revenue service
- They are your ideal customer from your ideal location
- They are a referral
- They have a low risk of cancellation
Once you know who adds the most value to your yearly revenue, you can justify spending more time trying to reach them.
Step 2 - Start with a follow-up process
Here’s a fun fact about me: I am a process junkie and will process out anything I can.
Having something on paper will not only allow you to replicate it across your sales team, but it will make it crystal clear what’s working and what isn’t. It also allows you to easily measure success of different ways of doing things, and find the most efficient and effective methods.
I get asked a lot how to create the best process, so I’ll follow up with another blog post on how I approach it, but until then, if you have a question, feel free to reach out - I’m always happy to help!
For your sales follow-up process, your focus will be getting in touch with leads who aren’t responding to traditional methods, or who are responding but are difficult to get ahold of. Examples of these folks include:
- Called them back from a contact form
- Returned a missed call
- Responded to a direct email
(Pro tip: You can definitely use this process for general follow-ups as wll!)
Step 3 - Define a win and a loss
A win might be someone calling you back and leaving another voicemail, or replying to an email rather than calling you. This isn’t the ultimate goal, these are all the reasons to keep following up. I don’t give up when someone emails me instead of calling me back - I show them I value their time and investment with Coalmarch, and that goes a long way.
A loss, on the other hand, might be that you’ve reached out 3 or 4 times and haven’t gotten a response. You called 3 times and sent 2 emails or vice versa. Defining a loss, and more importantly, how many losses warrant you putting your outreach on hold (or for you email-savvy folks, moving them into an email drip campaign,) will allow you to focus your time on people who are most likely to convert.
Step 4 - Set goals
Don’t just go into this without goals in mind. I say goals, because they can differ depending on your service. A free inspection, a service sign-up, or an upsell can all be considered a goal. Having this defined is crucial to measuring your close rate, and essentially, how successful each tool is in closing tough leads.
Reaching the Hard-to-Reach
Once you’ve got a solid process in place and you know who is worth reaching out to, there are a few tools you can use to actually get in touch with them - but please, don’t just get excited and jump into using a shiny new tool - process things out first!
- When: If you have a cell phone number or direct line
- How: Call when they will be free
- Call on weekends
- Do not call at times when you historically haven’t been able to reach them
- Track: When you do/don’t get through to leads
- Your close rate
- When: If you do not have a phone number
- How: Send/schedule for when people check their emails
- Do not fear clever subject lines
- Concise and direct content
- Track: Open rates and times
- Close rate
- When: When you have a cell phone number
- When calls have not worked
- How: Keep it short/Who are you
- Add value ($ off service, bonus service, etc.)
- Have an action (respond to text, submit webform, call back, etc.)
- Track: Response rate
- Close rate
Three Little Words
Everything that I just told you can be boiled down to three little words: Process. Measure. Adapt.
Processes not only help you to organize your own workflow, they make it infinitely easier to pass these tasks on to other people with minimal difficulty. Write out your goals and the individual steps you take to achieve them. Keep that file in a centralized location (we use Google Drive) so that anyone on your team can find it. And most importantly, follow the process! What way, when you're measuring the outcomes, you know you've established a baseline for comparison.
Measuring is the only way you'll truly know what works and what doesn't. Follow your process. Note the outcomes. When you have enough information to identify trends (the phone answer rate is only 18% on Tuesdays at 3pm) you can adapt your process and try something new.
"Adapt or die" is a common phrase in business these days. It sounds dramatic, but it's true. Attracting and retaining your customers is the only way to stay afloat, and certainly the only way to grow. Review your processes, review your results, and adapt as needed to hit your goals. Keep track of your email subject lines, keep track of the timing of your calls, keep track of the value add in your text messages. Test them over time, keep what works, and eliminate what doesn't.